The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have changed the meaning of what a gaming console can do. But before there were consoles that could stream TV, record gameplay and respond to human voices, there were machines like the Super Nintendo and Sega Dreamcast that offered stellar game libraries and laid the groundwork for today's consoles.
Best of all, you can still buy these machines. Whether you want to relive your favorite games or finally discover ones you missed, here are 10 classic consoles you will love.
Sega Dreamcast (1999)
Sega's swan song in the console world, the short-lived Dreamcast was ahead of its time. In 1999, the small, white box launched as Sega's sixth console generation, delivering online play and crisp 3D graphics before the Sony PS2, Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube entered the market. Dreamcast controllers have their own screens with the system's unique VMU memory cards, allowing you to play mini games or gain a tactical advantage. And when it comes to fun, classics like "Shenmue," "Crazy Taxi" and "Sonic Adventure" are still just as enjoyable today.
Super Nintendo (1991)
While Nintendo's new Wii U console is known for its unique controller and motion-sensing capability, the Super Nintendo is known for one thing: games. This 16-bit powerhouse is responsible for shaping the tastes of many '90s gamers, whether they preferred exploring dungeons in "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past" or soaring through space in "Star Fox." And while you can play "Mario Kart" on just about any Nintendo system, there's something special about cruising down the tastefully pixelated Rainbow Road in its original incarnation.
Atari 7800 (1986)
Atari enthusiasts might have the fondest memories of the Atari 2600, but it's the 7800 (released in 1986) that has the widest range of classic 2D games. The 7800 is a sleeker version of the Atari consoles that came before it, packing the ability to play Atari 2600 favorites like "Joust" and "Q*Bert," as well as more visually rich Atari 7800 titles, like "Alien Brigade" and "Midnight Mutants." Owning any Atari console means owning a true piece of gaming history, and many of its games are still one heck of a good time.
Magnavox Odyssey 2 (1978)
The original Magnavox Odyssey pioneered the home video game console in 1972, and its 1978 sequel was an improvement in every way. The Odyssey 2 is one of the few consoles to sport a built-in keyboard, which made a nice complement to the system's educational games. The ancient Odyssey 2 won't wow your kids, but it's worth dusting off just to experience quirky titles like Pac-Man clone "K.C. Krazy Chase" and board-game/video-game hybrid "Quest for the Rings."
Sega Saturn (1995)
The Sega Saturn was ultimately eclipsed by the Sony PlayStation and Nintendo 64 in the states, but that doesn't mean it didn't leave a legacy of great games. This 32-bit powerhouse made way for well-loved adventure romps like "Guardian Heroes" and "Panzer Dragoon," and had arcade-perfect ports of quarter-suckers like "Virtua Cop" and "Virtua Fighter 2." Sega currently makes games for just about every platform out there, but many of the company's highlights are on the Saturn.
Nintendo Game Boy Advance (2001)
While Nintendo's flagship Game Boy console started as a blocky, white box in 1989, the Game Boy Advance evolved the machine to sleek perfection in 2001. This 32-bit handheld device hosted legendary role-playing games (RPGs) like "Golden Sun" and "Fire Emblem," and evolved classic Nintendo franchises with "Metroid Fusion" and "Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire." This pocket-size console plays Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance titles, so consider it your gateway into a good chunk of Nintendo's handheld history.
Neo Geo (1990)
This SNK Playmore powerhouse was released in 1990 as both an arcade system and home console. You might remember games like "Metal Slug," "Bust-A-Move" and "Blazing Star" from your local arcade, and the Neo Geo let you play them at home in all of their 2D sprite-based glory. If you're a fighting-game fanatic, you simply cannot beat a lineup that includes the "King of Fighters," "Samurai Shodown," "Fatal Fury" and "Art of Fighting" franchises. The Neo Geo launched at an infamously expensive $649, but you can get the new "Neo Geo X" re-release with 20 preloaded games for less than $200.
Sega Game Gear (1991)
Nintendo's Game Boy might have been the popular kid when it came to early-'90s handhelds, but it didn't have the full-color backlit screen and rich graphics of Sega's Game Gear. This console essentially puts a Sega Master System in your pocket, allowing you to play Sega classics like "Sonic the Hedgehog," "Shinobi II" and "Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya" wherever you go. You can now download many popular Game Gear titles on the Nintendo 3DS, but there's something special about playing them on Sega's own hardware.
Nintendo GameCube (2001)
While the Nintendo GameCube might have lacked the pure power of the PS2 and Xbox, it made up for it with some of the best overall games to ever grace consoles. "Super Mario Sunshine" and "Metroid Prime" gave new life to classic Nintendo characters, while hit franchises like "Pikmin" and "Animal Crossing" got their start on the Cube. Fighting game "Super Smash Bros. Melee" still has a huge competitive community surrounding it, and "Star Wars: Rogue Leader" still stands as one of the most exhilarating "Star Wars" games to date.
Sony PlayStation 2 (2000)
It's hard to classify the Sony PlayStation 2 as a classic, as the 13-year-old console still saw a new U.S. release in 2013 with "FIFA 2014." The PS2's stellar game library of more than 3,870 titles has something for everyone, whether you want to immerse yourself in RPG "Final Fantasy X," save the day in "Spider-Man 2" or win a Super Bowl in some of the best versions of "Madden NFL." If you've never experienced the stunning visuals of "Ico" or have yet to virtually rip some limbs in "God of War," it's time to make some new memories.
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