Video games are pretty cool. And you know what? There are a lot of them. You’ll never be able to try them all. You’ll probably die knowing there was some random version of Super Mario Bros. you never got to experience firsthand. But these days, you don’t really need to have a comprehensive knowledge of everything. There’s too much content.
At the same time, there is still value in getting your feet wet and trying out all the different platforms or, at the very least, as many as you can get your hands on. I took the time to make a list of my favorite platforms,and a handful of games you shouldn’t miss, even if you might be stepping out of your comfort zone. I tried to stick to exclusives, but due to things like remasters, later ports, and laziness, that might not be totally accurate.
Anyway, here are some cool video games you can click through. Enjoy!
The PlayStation 3 had some issues coming out of the gate, as it was pitted against the more commercially successful Xbox 360 and Wii. But, it still had loads of great games for people. Uncharted got its start there with the first, second, and third entries in the series. People could marvel over Ico and Shadow of the Colossus again in a remastered collection. LittleBigPlanet and its sequel let people get creative. Plus, Demon’s Souls kicked off the whole Soulsborne genre!
Nintendo Entertainment System
A lot of NES games haven’t aged very well. But at the same time, there’s nothing more important to gaming than that big, ugly, grey box. Some games are better off read about or watched than played, but there are genuine classics that are still amazing today. Of course, there are the Nintendo classics; Mario , Zelda , and Kirby’s Adventure all stand out. But then, there are the third party greats, which consist of series like Contra, Mega Man , and Castlevania . There’s also River City Ransom , which you can thank for that Scott Pilgrim game.
The Super Nintendo came out and so did a whole bunch of awesome, updated versions of games that were great on the NES. You had a new Mario , a new The Legend of Zelda , a couple of Kirby greats, and one of the best games of all time, Super Metroid . But the Super Nintendo was a powerhouse of new stuff as well. Square Soft really came into its own with games like Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger . Capcom cranked out classic after classic, from Street Fighter 2 to Final Fight . You could trip over a Super Nintendo cart and it was probably a good game. That’s a lie; don’t believe that. But there are a lot of games people still talk about and say are their favorites on this platform.
The Sega Genesis ultimately didn’t help Sega win the console wars, but it was such a distinctly different console from the SNES that these experiences were worth seeking out if you didn’t have one then, and vice-versa. The Sonic the Hedgehog series was the Super Mario parallel, but its gameplay feel was entirely different. There were also unique RPGs, such as Phantasy Star and Shining Force . And Mickey Mouse games of all kinds had a banging time on Genesis, with nearly every Disney game with his face on it being a high quality experience ( Fantasia is bad though). Don’t forget to give ToeJam and Earl a whirl either, especially if you like modern roguelikes.
I ran out of room for portable platforms, but I had to at least include the OG. Well, the Game Boy wasn’t the first handheld gaming platform, but it’s the one that made the most impact and turned handheld gaming into a big deal. Things happened on Game Boy that changed video games forever. Things like Tetris and Pokemon , which left an immesurable mark on us all. The Game Boy also had a lot of cool weird stuff, like Gargoyle’s Quest , a strange spinoff of the Ghouls n Ghosts series. It even gave us Wario Land and the most bizarrely great remake of Donkey Kong nobody would have ever expected.
When Sony introduced the PlayStation, it also introduced a console war that reached a scale the Sega and Nintendo battle never could. Most of that is due to the vast difference in what games could do when using CD media. Because of that, different sorts of experiences were developed and new twists on the familiar formulas emerged as well. With all that space for higher production values and innovation that were previously unheard of, new doors for things like storytelling were unlocked. Sure, there are your Crash Bandicoots and Spyro the Dragons , but there’s also the worldwide explosion of Final Fantasy , the weird vibes of PaRappa the Rapper , and the movie-like ambition of Metal Gear Solid .
The cool thing about the PlayStation 2 is that it was ludicrously popular and the gaming industry was swimming in money. So that meant the floodgates opened, and games were coming out left and right. Not only were there tons of games, there were tons of ideas. The PlayStation 2 brought us new concepts like character action, with Devil May Cry . Shooters started becoming bigger and better than ever, and western developers started exploring new spaces. Final Fantasy got more weird, and Kingdom Hearts made the impossible look trivial. Sports games really took off during this time as well, with massive leaps in physics technologies.
Microsoft’s Xbox wasn’t full of instant classics (outside of like Halo , naturally), but it snagged market share like nobody expected. Its next console, the Xbox 360, dominated the market in North America like a spreading virus. Part of that was because of the oncoming Halo sequels, but this console also saw the debut of Gears of War , a game that tried to add drama to shooters and introduced the whole chest-high walls everywhere to provide cover thing. Xbox 360 also made the Xbox Live Arcade (which was technically introduced in the last console) one of the biggest deals in games at the time, making online gameplay more accessible on consoles. Games like Geometry Wars could not have existed otherwise.
The Xbox One is one of the current generation’s consoles, and that’s a generation that’s nearly over in 2019. Microsoft’s hubris (within the Xbox executive team) cost it in a similar manner to Sony failing with the PlayStation 3. But, while a lot of the Xbox One’s big exclusives somewhat failed to make their intended mark, there are still games that really deserve a look. Gears 5 recently cast the series in a renewed light, while smaller titles like Cuphead and Ori and the Blind Forest are easily contemporary classics. It’s also important to point to services like the Xbox Game Pass as effective new vehicles for gaming experiences.
The PlayStation 4 is a powerhouse like nobody expected it to be. The way things were going before this generation, a lot of people thought that consoles would begin to die out in favor of mobile devices. While that’s sort of true in Japan, in the rest of the world, video games have been experiencing a boom. This is due, in part, to some degree of economic recovery, but also the lineup of software and brand messaging of the PS4. Naughty Dog has become a prestige house of games with The Last of Us ( Remastered ) and Uncharted 4 , and titles like Horizon: Zero Dawn showed how effective new IP could be with the proper muscle behind it. Resident Evil has made a multiplatform comeback, but without the PS4, Japanese games may have fallen off more to the wayside.
Speaking of recovery, with the Switch, Nintendo has made a miraculous comeback. While the Wii U was practically another Dreamcast, the Nintendo Switch exploded off the charts in 2019, only two years after its debut. While a lot of that is due to how appealing the hardware is, the games have been exceptional. You can’t go wrong with any Nintendo title, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fire Emblem: Three Houses . Third-party support has been wild as well, with Octopath Traveler bringing classic Square Enix magic with a brand new IP and PlatinumGames’ Astral Chain taking character action in a new direction. Also, so many ports of older games have made a home on the platform that, with the Switch’s high-fidelity portability, often makes many legacy titles feel like new experiences.