A video game system is an electronic device enabling a person to play video games, usually through a television.
- Magnavox Odyssey
Second Generation (1976-1983)
- Atari 2600
- Atari 5200
Third Generation (1983-1992)
- Atari 7800
- Sega Master System
The third generation of Video Game Systems was dominated by Nintendo, followed by Atari, then Sega:
- US Market:
- NES: 76%
- Atari: 15%
- Sega: 09%
Fourth Generation (1987-1996)
- SNES-CD (by Phillips)
- Atari 8200
- Sega Genesis
- Sega CD-32 add-on
- Turbografx 16
The SNES was released in 1991, with the CD add-on released in 1993, and the compact version in 1995. The SNES-CD enhanced the system with a 32-bit processor and more RAM, and included greater polygon processing for all games, bringing the SuperFX chip's abilities to all games on a consistent basis. Donkey Kong Country 3 was released on CD, making use of this ability. The SNES-CD essentially replaced the SNES CPU with a newer 32-bit 22.75MHz processor, and a CD-ROM interface. Early units used 650MB CDs, but the first hardware revision enabled the playing of 700MB discs.
The Sega Genesis was released earlier than the SNES to leapfrog Nintendo, but after the SNES was released, Sega sought to bring their now underpowered Genesis up-to-date while also working towards a future console. Initial plans to create a 16-bit CD Drive were scrapped when early press reports leaked the SNES-CD would be 32-bit, so Sega released a CD-32 add-on for the system that brought the specs up to holding 32,768 simultaneous colors on-screen, twin 32-bit RISC processors at 23MHz each, and a 2x CD drive (later models improved this to 4x).
The TurboGrafx-16 was also enhanced with a CD-ROM attachment later on, but could not compete with Nintendo and Sega, especially after their CD systems took off. The Atari 8200 did not develop a CD-ROM attachment, for which Atari would wait for its next game system. This generation was 'won' by Nintendo, followed by Sega, then Atari, then TurboGrafx-16.
Notable games for these consoles: SNES - Super Mario World, Super Mario RPG-CD, Donkey Kong Country, DKC CD, Killer Instinct; Genesis - Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic CD, Altered Beast, Altered Beast CD, Earthworm Jim
Fifth Generation (1993-2002)
- Atari Jaguar
- Nintendo 64
- Amiga CD32
- Sega Saturn
- Sony Playstation
This generation was fought between the Playstation, the Saturn, and the N64, with the other consoles attempting to gain market share. The N64 came about from the success of the SNES-CD partnership with Phillips Electronics, and the failed deal with Sony. To leapfrog Sony, Nintendo decided to produce a unit capable of CD and cartridge playback. The N64 was released with Mario 64 on Cartridge, with an expansion called Mario 64: Second World, released on CD once Nintendo had demonstrated the success of the console. Killer Instinct was released on CD, due to the size limitations of cartridges, and as the console aged, more games were released on CD than cartridge. Early consoles were difficult to develop for in Japan, for which Nintendo retooled the originally limited texture cache, the high latency of RDRAM, and adding DMA access for the North American release, which eventually made its way back to Japan. Final Fantasy VII, released on N64 and Playstation, was a huge success on the N64, bringing more sales to the system.
The Jaguar was Atari's entry into the 5th Generation of video game consoles. It was much more successful than the 8200 system, with an integrated CD-ROM and cartridge, used mainly for expanded RAM packs, but the console was not the commercial success Atari had hoped. It was in 4th place this generation, behind Sony, Nintendo, then Sega. It contained several notable games, including Pitfall 95, Tomb Raider, and Alien vs. Predator.
Sixth Generation (1998-2005)
Microsoft entered the console game after collaborating with Sega on the Dreamcast, a successful Japanese console, and eventually the second-place console of the Sixth Generation. It was launched in 2001, and proved to be a moderate success for Microsoft, bringing big name titles such as Halo and Halo 2.
The N64-2 was Nintendo's attempt to refresh its aging N64 system in 2001, being a moderate update of the hardware with a faster processor, more RAM, a DVD-ROM drive, DVD playback, and hardware simplification that made programming much easier than the original N64. This system experienced moderate success, enough to allow Nintendo time to introduce its completely new console by 2004.
The Atari Jaguar-2 was also a limited refresh of the original Jaguar rather than a completely new system. It upgraded to a DVD-ROM drive, with more memory, and abandoned the cartridge format of the original Jaguar. Aside from titles such as Bonk, Madden 2001, and Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Atari released Pitfall 2k, its most popular title on the Jaguar 2, followed by Pitfall 2K2, which introduced Harry's girlfriend, Tara. This game would prove popular enough to drive Jaguar to 3rd place in this generation in console sales.
Seventh Generation (2005-present)
- Atari Leopard
- X-Box 360 HD
- Playstation 3
- Sega Star-HD
- Nintendo Revolution
With the DVD format settled, and HD TV taking off, the HD format war had also started. Microsoft wanted to place an HD-DVD drive in its X-Box 360, but decided against it to bring the console to market sooner than Sony's oft-delayed Playstation 3. It did, however, manage to release an HD-DVD add-on which enabled the X-Box 360 to play games as massive as Final Fantasy XII on one HD-DVD rather than 2 DVDs. In 2007, due to system overheating and other reliability issues, Microsoft released a refresh of the X-Box 360 dubbed the X-Box 360HD with a built-in HDMI port, HD-DVD drive, a 120GB hard drive, and Zune Marketplace integration, enabling content purchased on the X-Box marketplace to be viewed in the Zune PC software and vice-versa.
Sony's PS3 was delayed due to the insistence of using the Blu-Ray format for its disc drive. Unfortunately for Sony, a high price, production difficulties, fabrication difficulties, and the failure of the Blu-Ray format by January 2008 had dealt several blows to the PS3's launch fervor. The system remains behind the Sega Star-HD in sales.
Atari finally released a completely new console in 2007, retiring the aging Jaguar 2, and utilizing the HD-DVD format for games, a controller with a 6-button face and dual analog sticks, and motion control for driving and FPS games. Nintendo's Revolution console made use of the same HD-DVD format as well, going a step further in motion control, providing a remote control interface for advanced motion control of its games.
So far, the X-Box 360HD is the bestselling console, followed by UHD, Leopard, Star-HD, and finally PS3.
Uniquely, in this generation, Nintendo and Sega cooperated on a joint venture called "Mario and Sonic Smash Bros," bringing numerous famous Nintendo and Sega characters together in a fighting game, released for the Star-HD and the Revolution, with unique bonus features in both versions.
Microsoft's Halo 3 HD, released on the HD-DVD drive, along with Gears of War, Mortal Kombat vs. DC, and Street Fighter IV, brought sales of the HD-DVD add-on, and the HD-enabled X-Box 360 HD to a new level.