Part of 2 of this huge battle of the console generation, Being a gamer for most of my life and being in the industry for over half my life I’ve been close to many gaming platforms, I’ve seen it almost all for the last 30 plus years, and over those years I have opinions and thoughts across the platforms, they can often be regarded and Consoles Wars and put into generations.
This was the biggest console war to date, with Neo geo and Atari setting in the background and PC gaming has its own niche, we saw 4 big companies launching their consoles within a short time of each other but who came out on top? what was my favourite?
Well in Part 1 we saw the continued rise of the mighty PlayStation with the PS2, its tech, games choice, and advancements started strong, but we also saw the last Harah of Sega with the Dreamcast, arguably one of the most underrated consoles with a solid quality choice of games, innovative ideas and a glimpse of the future gaming, but that went hand in the hand of Segas own self-destruction. But we move on to the old school champ Nintendo and the new contender, Microsoft and their Xbox.
Nintendo let’s be honest is the biggest and reigns multi-time champs, and even at this point they were still coming off the Game boy dominance and their previous successors, but the N64 battle with PS1 was a little bruising, they might not admit it but they didn’t win, and not as bad as Sega with decisions but they were beginning to make some slightly questionable decisions in the gaming world.
The N64 for some was a much-loved console and had some great classic games but Nintendo was pinning themselves into a niche corner, diehard fans loved them but everyone else was moving to a more adult or just simply bigger range of consoles. They stood tall with Cartridges and the complicated mess of N64 expansions backs and stuff but surely it was time to embrace Disks?
Well yes and no, in late 2001 in Japan and early 2002 for everyone else Nintendo were launching their new console, Sega were just about out of the door and PS2 had started well but the stock was still limited, but they were charging with DVD and the games, Nintendo brought out there unique console called Gamecube! it was in the shape of a Cube and a lot of the early stuff was all about the cube logo including the version of the Nintendo Gamecube logo that should how much they were putting behind this design.
They embraced the disc and had memories cards, but…. as I’ve mentioned before Nintendo do things differently good and bad, but they took the decision to not use the new and popular formate DVD, they used a miniDVD disk, a step up from cartridge storage design to hold games etc. and also saw unrivalled Copywrite protection, but this specific disk meant that their disks didn’t work anywhere else, and more importantly the hardware didn’t support CD of DVD, which made it a solely gaming console.
At the time of tech increasing in our lives and all-around entertainment it was a risk, however, it then allowed the console to be released at a very affordable price range, the memory blocks were still confusing with again the ret of the world going GB and memory etc.. where Nintendo said NO! we do blocks…, another learning was there controller, a much more universal design like PlayStation and Microsoft with there design,
However, Nintendo changed the layout including a big A button which was a commonly used button, along with a little analogue stick, again they were trying but being different at the same time, which also led to the wave bird controller, a wireless controller! a great leap in there tech
However there was a mixed amount of hype, the console looked unique with a cube and handled on it for carrying, while its initial launch of games was better than any of the other 3, Luigi’s Mansion was new IP but utilised a popular character and it was great, Star Wars Rogue squadron was another excellent choice as was the popular Wave Racer.
As time went on other huge games were made there was out, Super Mario Sunshine, Mario Kart, a variety of different Mario games, and of corse Zelda which also helped the popularity. Nintendo was making steps forward and back, they opened up to more games for third parties, including once bitter rivals Sega! Ubisoft and Co were one of the last game’s makers towards the end of its life.
But yet again Nintendo was making the same mistakes again, their console was loved by Nintendo fans, it was unique, novel, niche, but was restricted to everyone else, the traditional games were present again and a couple of new neat games were out, but this wasn’t mass market, they hadn’t found the way to attract people outside of there own fan base,
They were moving on from the last two console releases, and what was worse Gameboy and now Gameboy colour was being to run out of steam, Gameboy SP was great and did well but it was the same games again.. just upgraded Hardware, Gamecube did not swell as they like and for the first time Nintendo was on the ropes a little.
A new contender rose through the mists, Microsoft were the company at the time in PC and PC gaming, Apple was still more of Office type company and not what they are now, Steam and other software platforms weren’t really a desired or sort after thing, but Microsft and Windows were dominating. But they wanted to enter the gaming console market.
Utilising their own tech team and own software Direct X, windows etc.. they wanted something to compete to there own PC gaming levels and tackle the dominant PlayStation. Like Nintendo releasing last 2001 but this time in America and early 2002 for the rest of the world we saw them release the new console XBOX.
The Xbox was the most powerful of all of this generation of consoles, it too had DVD playability but you needed a remote to enable it (weird I know), it was compatible with CD’s also and had a built-in hard drive, a first in Gaming, but also had the ability to take your profile or saves via memory card that slotted into the controller much like the Dreamcast, it had built-in modern..much like a Dreamcast, and its first version controller was a chunk and similar to design to the rest…much like the Dreamcast, they might not admit it but they were looking around at what was good and utilising it and combining it with what they wanted to do.
But they were new and unknown, they had no history, they were playing catching up in games and reputation to both Sony and Nintendo with Sega earlier falling by the wayside. It launched with a small selection of games, however, the people who knew tech and on the inside were eagerly excited to what was coming, however, in reality, the games choice was dominated by one game… HALO, everyone who had an Xbox got Halo, you then choose another game or two after that one, Dead or alive and Project gotten racing were seen as good games to get, PGR was actually a new version of MSR from the Dreamcast utilising Sega demise.
Microsft continued to improve their lineup of games including getting Sega franchises over and bit titles like Fifa and eventually GTA, owners of the console will all have a favourite game and with the release of Halo 2 the popularity was now increasing. Forze arrived to combat Gran Turismo as the line between the two consoles was getting thinner however it was commonly known that the games looked and ran better on the Xbox but the PS2 had the game choice.
For Microsoft it was a learning, they might not admit this aswell but it was all about leading into the console market, they were trying things set up for the future, the controller got slimmer and was tweaker, and much better received. They launched something called Xbox Live, a service that you could play against other people online, much like PC, this was still new thing Sega touched it but couldn’t sustain it, while Nintendo and Sony again dabbled in it.
Xbox live was a success and added more eyes to the console, and its sales overtook both Sega and Nintendo, but the console was a stepping stone and they annoyed the new Xbox 3 years into its life. But they had done what they wanted to, they were here and for a new console had made significant steps with only the Playstation one making a more dominant first impression in gaming history.
In someway its a tough call, and someways it is not, all 4 really took the console market in different directions, previously to this the consoles were getting similar with 1 -4 players, new games, gaming consoles, gets released ends new models done…and that was the cycle.
However all 4 showed innovative ideas, the Sega Dreamcast will probably never get the recognition it deserves, people who played it and took it for what it was knows how good the console was, and actually could have been, it was inspiring and launched many things that we know even till today. But infighting, poor decisions and the launch of PS2 and doing things right ended Sega’s run, and it’s sad in reflection.
The GameCube for many Nintendo fans will go down as a great console, and it did indeed have some great games, I owned one (like the rest of the consoles) and really enjoyed games like Mario kart, Animal Crossing, Star wars etc.. there were some terrific games, the pearly white Cube was lovely, and the Resident evil chainsaw was excellent.
But Nintendo did what they do, focus on themselves and what they like and what their customers like, which is fine if you have lots of customers and fans following your product, but the general fans were moving away, they didn’t buy into there unique ways of doing things and fell out of love for them.
Microsoft pips Nintendo on console sales and even though in reflection Nintendo probably had a stronger lineup of games Xbox had done what they needed to, they were arguably second after starting from the beginning, but they had grown into popularity, Xbox Live, the controller, the games like Halo, Fable, Forza among a few others had garnished high praised and the power of the console was evident, look at steel battalion, the game and mech controller was unbelievable. They had laid solid foundations and for the people out there it was the console to own alongside your other one, especially if you didn’t have a high-end PC.
However there was one king, and for 2 generations in a row it was Playstation, the PS2 still had Ps1 launches at the same time and it took time to move people over, but once again like the PS1 everyone had a PS2 at some point, it lasted long into the next decade and is still played now, there are so many games launched for it.
At the time it was a fantastic DVD player, the choice of games catered to young kids of 3+ all the way up to 18+, it hit every genre, and every time of the person with their games. Even the controller and Slimline models were excellent and id argues that in any console generation it’s probably the best all-around console.
I cannot stress the hype of the console and the games, it felt every week there was 5\10+ games launched and a triple AAA release. The other 3 can beat it in certain parts, kind of…but not all around, it was the console to own again and Sony was still on a high with their PS3 being announced, not that it slowed PS2 for a few years after, but Weldone PS2, if you still didn’t own one get it, look at the games, if your a fan and cant remember just google PS2 games, there are so many.