15 Video Game Consoles Filipinos Grew Up With
Starting around the late ‘70s, there’s a generation of kids who grew up playing video games on dedicated game consoles. These consoles have long and varied histories that are linked with the evolution of computers as an entertainment medium. For nearly 40 years, two generations have discovered the unknown pleasures of fiddling with joysticks and controllers while blowing out dust from cartridges. Ask any Gen X and Millennials who were reared on video games and they’ll tell you there’s no sound sweeter than that of their favorite console booting up.
We’ve collected the game machines that defined a generation. See if yours on the list.
Year introduced: 1977
This is the machine that started the home console revolution. Although it was not the first in the market, it became the most dominant system. For a lot of ‘80s kids, the Atari 2600 was their first encounter with a home video game system after playing games in the arcades. The machine was officially called the Video Computer System or VCS but somehow it was simply called the Atari. The machine introduced the use of joysticks as standard controllers for games such as Adventure, Yar’s Revenge, Asteroids, Missile Command, Pitfall!, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man.
Nintendo Family Computer
Year introduced: 1983
Manufactured by a Japanese company that started in 1889, the Family Computer is considered one of the greatest consoles of all time. No ‘80s childhood was complete without the Family Computer. The iconic white and red console came with two controllers bearing the signature cross-shaped directional key and A and B buttons. With an expansive game library, the Family Computer introduced another legend to a global audience: an athletic plumber who was the star of the game Super Mario Bros.
Sega Mega Drive
Year introduced: 1988
Nintendo’s dominance didn’t stay unchallenged for a long time. Sega’s release of the Mega Drive system set off a fierce console war between the two companies. With a 16-bit hardware that was more advanced than the Family Computer, the Mega Drive also introduced Sonic the Hedgehog as a rival to Nintendo’s Mario. Launch games such as Altered Beast, Golden Axe, and Space Harrier II and later on Golden Axe and NBA Jam helped the Mega Drive thrive well into the early ‘90s.
Nintendo Game Boy
Year introduced: 1989
Nintendo had already made a name for itself making handheld game machines with the single-game Game & Watch units in the early ‘80s. The Game Boy was the next technological step. Like its console counterpart, the Game Boy used a cartridge system for its games which were displayed on a monochrome LCD screen. Powered by AA batteries, the Game Boy became, well, the poster boy for portable gaming. We’re still having flashbacks to a time when Tetris, Dr. Mario, Pokemon Red and Blue, and Metroid II kept us company on our daily commute.
Year introduced: 1990
By the time the ‘90s rolled in, Nintendo has upped its game with more advanced 16-bit hardware. The Super Famicom (also known as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System or SNES) became another must-have system from Nintendo. Because of Nintendo’s strict curation, the quality of most games for the system was top-notch. First-party titles such as Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda, F-Zero, and Star Fox made the Super Famicom the console king.
Sega Game Gear
Year introduced: 1990
One of the most desirable gaming handhelds during its time, the Game Gear was the portable equivalent of Sega’s Master System. The Game Gear’s main selling point was its color screen and a more ergonomic landscape orientation. Despite the Game Gear’s reputation for being power hungry, sucking six AA batteries in no time, gamers were glued to the portable versions of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Gunstar Heroes, The GG Shinobi, and Space Harrier. As a bonus, the Game Gear turned into a portable TV with the TV tuner accessory.
Year introduced: 1993
Because of its much-advertised 64-bit hardware, the Atari Jaguar was marketed as the most powerful console compared to its rivals. Its multi-chip design was rather complex and developers found it difficult to develop for the system. Another noteworthy feature of the Jaguar was its multi-button controller that had a numeric keypad. The most popular Jaguar games were console ports of PC games such as Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. The Jaguar had few hits on the system such as Aliens vs. Predator and Tempest 2000. Due to poor sales and a weak library, the Jaguar became Atari’s last console.
Year introduced: 1993
Released a year before the PlayStation, the 3DO was one of the most expensive consoles in the market. Multiple manufacturers licensed the technology from the 3DO company and several versions of the console were made by Panasonic, GoldStar, and Sanyo. The 3DO was designed as a multimedia machine that played video, audio, photo discs, and games. Sports games such as FIFA, PGA Golf Tour, and John Madden Football stood out on the 3DO.
Year introduced: 1994
The Sega Saturn ushered in the era of the 32-bit game console. Sega was blazing the arcades with several hits under its belt and the Sega Saturn was the only way to experience arcade hits such as the Virtua Fighter, Virtua Racer, and Virtua Cop series of games at home. The Sega Saturn was also good at translating arcade favorites such as Sega Rally Championship, Street Fighter Alpha 3, and Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter. When it came to exclusives, the Saturn wasn’t lacking because of the Panzer Dragoon series and Guardian Heroes.
Year introduced: 1994
After a failed partnership with Nintendo which tried to create a disc-based add-on for the Famicom/SNES, Sony decided to launch its own console called the PlayStation. Having no previous experience in making game consoles, Sony had to fight it out between Nintendo and Sega for market dominance. Although it wasn’t the first, the PlayStation popularized the CD-ROM format. A new generation of 3D Final Fantasy games flourished on the PlayStation and exclusives such as Resident Evil, Gran Turismo. and Metal Gear Solid became bonafide hits.
Year introduced: 1996
In battle for hardware superiority, Nintendo’s answer to the stalwart PlayStation was a powerful machine called the Nintendo 64. The N64 still used cartridges but the real innovation was Nintendo’s introduction of a quirky three-pronged controller that had an analog joystick. The N64 delivered on its promise in showcasing outstanding 3D games which are still held in high regard up to this day such as Super Mario 64, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and GoldenEye 007.
Year introduced: 1998
In a bid to reclaim market share and avoid repeating its mistake with the Saturn, Sega launched the Dreamcast, marking the start of the sixth generation of video game consoles. The Dreamcast was designed with multiple connectivity features such as a detachable VMU which acted as a memory card, secondary display, and mini-handheld. Online multiplayer, internet browsing, and connectivity was possible with the Dreamcast when a modem accessory and broadband adapter was attached to the back of the unit. Shenmue, an open-world action RPG became the system’s signature game.
Year introduced: 2001
At the turn of the new millennium, Nintendo released its first disc-based system, the GameCube. The GameCube’s miniscule footprint and grab handle made it look like a child’s toy. Inside, it was a very capable machine that had an extensive library of superb titles such as Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Super Mario Sunshine, Pikmin 2, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, and Metroid Prime.
Year introduced: 2001
Made with components found in desktop computers, the Xbox challenged the dominance of the PlayStation 2. The Xbox was the designed to fully take advantage of broadband internet and had its own dedicated online gaming service called Xbox Live. It’s also the first console to have a built-in hard drive which sped up the loading times games and stored additional content. Being the most powerful console at the time, the Xbox became a technological showcase for graphically intense games such as Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Ninja Gaiden, Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, and Forza Motorsport.
Nintendo Game Boy Advance
Year released: 2001
Nintendo continued to dominate handheld gaming with the successor to the Game Boy Color, the Game Boy Advance. With a 32-bit processor, the Advance shared similarities with the Famicom/SNES. The power-efficient GBA had a color screen and supported multi-player via cables. From casual games, platformers, strategy games, and Japanese-style RPGs, the GBA’s game library was quite well-rounded. Outstanding games include Advance Wars, Golden Sun, Metroid Fusion, Fire Emblem, Wario Ware: Mega Microgames, and Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire.