While we’re all gamers, there’s plenty of healthy - no console wars here - debate to be had about what platforms are the best gaming systems of all time. Sure, some platforms surpass the rest on certain objective measures - a high-end PC will outperform any console, but it’ll also cost more; it can’t be denied that smartphones have more users by far than any other game-capable platform, but you could ask questions about interface, accessibility, game quality, and so on. We wanted to hear all of you, our dedicated community of gamers, make a case for your platforms of choice.
So that’s what you did. There aren’t any particularly obscure choices in here, but there is a little thinking outside of the box, and plenty of excellent picks to begin our guide to the best gaming systems of all time.
"The excitement of proper 3D graphics, which were mindblowing at the time, on this machine that was pretty reasonably priced, was a game changer! I remember getting up early, wrapping myself in my duvet and sitting on a chair right in front of the tv just playing the various demos over and over.
“I had so much fun playing classics like Gran Turismo, Tekken, Adidas Power Soccer, G-Police, Future Cop LAPD, Jet Moto (which was the closest thing I could get on PS1 to Wave Race 64!), Rapid Racer, Resident Evil 2, Tomb Raider, and then the game which took it to levels way beyond anything I’d ever played at that point… Metal Gear Solid.”
Of course, many of us no doubt share Murray’s enthusiasm for the original PlayStation being one of our first gaming experiences, as it sold over 100 million units. Like Murray, I have fond memories of playing games such as Crash Bash, Rollcage, and Micro Machines, sitting cross-legged in front of the big telly after school. Of course, the PlayStation One was simply the precursor to the best-selling console of all time, with over 150 million units sold and multiple nominations in this bounty…
"I would argue that the PS2 is probably one of the most influential gaming systems which makes it stand out above the rest for its innovation with 3D worlds and characters, platformer games having a much smoother feel than previous systems, the sheer amount of games that the system had, as well as its dual functionality as a DVD/CD player too - making it the perfect entertainment system.
“Gaming rose a lot in the early 2000s and the PS2 came out at just the right time to capitalise on that and gave us some iconic platformer mascots in the form of Ratchet, Sly, and Jak - all of which utilised the system’s power and crafted some memorable locations and shaped many people’s childhood gaming experience.”
Of course, the catalogue of games on the PS2 was also ridiculously large, with 4,376 games for the platform according to Wikipedia. These were all physical discs too - while the PS4 has just under 3,500, many of these are digital-only releases. In an era before the gaming press was so mainstream, this meant you could go to your local gaming store and find all manner of hidden gems - or complete flops - in the bargain bin.
"I played on a PS1 and PS2 at my friend’s house, but the PS2 Slim was the first console I owned - I bought it from my first salary and got to deal with weeks of being yelled at for "wasting my money. Alongside the sentimental value it holds now, it had some of the best Final Fantasy games (Dirge of Cerberus, X, X-2 and XII), and the .hack// series still has a special place in my heart.
“The Slim version was truly slim, compared to the size on the original PS2. I travelled a lot for work and uni at the time, and carried my PS2 slim, cables, and controller with me easily in a small bag and just had to connect it to a TV wherever I went. So until Sony comes up with such a compact yet powerful console again, I’m not interested in any of the slim versions - I’m looking at you, PS5 'slim’!”
“There simply isn’t anything that comes close to Gears of War, Halo Reach, or Forza Motorsport. These were the pinnacle of game design, where everything was crafted meticulously for Xbox, where you were taken in, then taken aback by the visuals. The elements just transcend the era it was in, making the X360 and the games stand out.”
“3am Call of Duty lobbies with Xbox voice chat. Yeah, that was the stuff. I hope everyone has had the experience at one point of plugging another controller in, then screaming at the other player for screen watching, so you’d haphazardly use some cardboard to split the screen. Or maybe you worked a bit better and played Kinect Sports together, then laughed with each other as the photoshoots show the most horrendous photos ever.”
If there’s still a gap, it’s only a matter of time before that also closes - the iPhone 15 Pro Max can even run Resident Evil Village, and will have Assassin’s Creed Mirage in early 2024 - and in the meantime, there’s no denying that phone gaming has introduced hundreds of millions, maybe even billions, to the joys of interactive entertainment. Philip gave his thoughts:
“Thinking outside of the box, I’m gonna say smartphones. You can carry them wherever you go, and they are accessible whenever you have a free moment to play games. The app store allows you to quickly find and download new games, many of which are free. The revolution of touch screen technology has also meant that many games have found their natural home in your pocket, such as puzzle games like Candy Crush Saga. These games would be too clunky using console controls and using a touch screen is also easier than using a mouse on a PC. In conclusion, Smartphones have made mobile gaming commonplace, and an easily accessible gaming option for everyone.”
“The last console I had was an Xbox. I played Halo with my friends and had an awesome time, but once I got my first PC, I stuck to it. In every aspect PC wins - consoles have controllers, but so does the PC. Someone has even created a controller out of a banana, with a wire and a button attached.”
He goes on to explain about his time playing games such as Splinter Cell, Diablo, and Counter-Strike - catch the full video embedded below.