As new consoles get released (hello, PS5!) older consoles we all used to love enter oblivion. Or do they? Retro gaming has been really popular amongst 20- and 30- year olds, as the 80’s and 90’s revival spread through popular culture. That leads us to wonder: what are the most popular Retro Game Consoles? And: can we still buy them to play the games we used to love? The answer to that question? Of course you can!
NES (16 bit)
We need to start this list with the mother of all retro game consoles: the allround favorite NES. The Nintendo Entertainment System (in Japan: Famicom) is arguably the most famous Retro Console to date. It got released in 1983 in Japan and reached the rest of the world soon after. Super Mario Bros was the game that made sure the sales of the NES skyrocketed, and original cartridges of this game still go for 50 – 100 euro’s. With the price of an original NES in second hand condition still being at a steady 75 euro, that shows the popularity of this console.
While you can buy second hand versions of the NES, you might be better off buying the re-release of the NES. In 2016 Nintendo decided to jump on the retro-game hype train and released an emulator that looks like the NES (but smaller) and emulates 30 classics, with Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda as all time favourites.
Following the success of the NES, Nintendo released the Super Nes (Japan: Super Famicon) in 1991. Better quality in sound and image, but more important, new controllers with buttons you need to press with your indexfinger. Titles that really thrived on this console include Final Fantasy, Chronotrigger and of course Super Mario World.
Following the success of the re-release of the NES Classic Mini, Nintendo decided in 2017 to also release a mini version of the Super NES. It got released with 21 games, including Final Fantasy, Super Mario Kart, Mega Man X and F-Zero. Sadly, Chronotrigger wasn’t one of them. While Nintendo has released a lot of retro games via the Nintendo Switch Online services, ChronoTigger still isn’t one of them.
Sega Genesis / Sega Mega Drive
While Nintendo’s sales where skyrocketing with the release of the NES, Sega released it’s own console: the Sega Master System. But the console war between Nintendo and Sega really started with Sega’s release of the Sega Mega Drive, later renamed as the Sega Genesis. While Nintendo had Mario as its mascotte, Sega bundled it’s powers with Sonic the Hedgehog. (Btw: while Detective Pikachu was a bad idea, the Sonic Movie is actually ok). And while Nintendo had Prince of Persia, Sega had Aladin. Nintendo and Sega keep on competing, even now. Cause when the SNES mini got released, Sega had to release a mini of their own, which they did wit the Sega Genesis Mini. It got released in 2019 with Street Fighter, Sonic, Castlevania and Tetris as popular games.
There is one more big name in this list that we cannot forget when we talk about retro gaming: Sony. Playstation was late to the game, competing with Nintendo’s Nintendo 64 and the Sega Saturn. Safe to say it was a good bet of Sony to invest in their own console after the collab with Nintendo didn’t work, because Playstation is and has been one of the market leaders in console gaming. With the list of popular titles on the Playstation going on and on, a few classics are Gran Turismo, Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy.
And if your former competitors release a mini-version of their older consoles, you cannot stay behind. Sony released te Playstation Classic in 2018 including the classics Rayman, GTA, Final Fantasy and Tekken.
The final console in this retro game consoles -list is the Atari. Maybe this should have been higher on the list, because without Atari paving the way for console gaming, we might not have had all the others. Even though Atari deserves a special place in the list, the gameplay on the original controller was… challenging to say the least. While some people love the challenge older games bring, I for one would rather have a more people-friendly design. Nonetheless: the Atari will still remain popular just because of the impact it had on console gaming. If you still want the oldscool feel, get the Atari Flashback 8.
Ready, player one?
Let us know in the coments which retro console you love the most and why!