Oooh. And the Game Boy takes the cake in last round's no-surprises match. For more details, read last week's post. This week: The console wars! This era is punctuated by the use of 16-bit graphics, rabid fanboyism, and early attempts at CD based gaming (although that latter part slides into the fifth gen)! Will Sega be able to dethrone the reigning champion Nintendo? Only time (and your precious, precious votes) will tell! As usual, a quick recap of the rules: Warning: Spoilers inside! Each week, video game history will be put to the test to see which console or handheld is the greatest. There can only be one! Warning: Spoilers inside! Vote for your favourite and follow it through to the end as we try to determine GBATemp's favourite console/handheld! Consoles and handhelds will face off in brackets comprised of their generation. Because there can only be one, in the event of a tie I will cast a tie-breaking vote. Once a winner has been declared for each generation, the console winners and the handheld winners will face off in individual brackets. Once an ultimate console and ultimate handheld have been chosen, they will face off against each other to see who is the greatest! For a concrete example of the brackets, see the image at the bottom of this post. Enough of that crap! Let's get too it! This week's challengers are: The NEC PC-Engine/Turbo GraFX-16 This beast of a console, which we saw had a portable version in the TurboExpress, was released way back in 1987, and sold initially for $399.99US. It was called Turbo because it had variable turbo buttons built-in to the controller, something that third party companies had been putting into their controllers to distinguish them for years. Some consider this cheating, but it was interesting to have in a stock controller. In Japan it fared quite well, where it initially beat FAMICOM sales, but in North America and Europe (where it was released in very limited quantities) it never made a foothole. Eventually the PC Engine was over taken in Japan by the Super Famicom upon its release, but it is still remembered fondly there. The PC Engine has the unique distinction of being the first console with a CD add-on, and is also known for having a large number of different models of the same console released. If you thought Nintendo was nuts for releasing so many versions of the DS, try and find a complete PC Engine line… Worldwide sales for the PC Engine/Turbo GraFX/Turbo GraFX 16 were ~10 million. The Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis “Sega does what Nintendon’t”. That infamous line is from an attack campaign from Sega during the heated battle of the console wars of the early 90s. Touted as having fictional “blast processing”, the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive was released in 1989 into direct competition with the Turbo GraFX 16 (with ads mocking the Turbo GraFX for not really being a 16-bit console). In Japan, the Genesis couldn’t make more of a splash than the PC Engine/Turbo GraFX, but in North America and Europe it did quite well, benefitted hugely from its aggressive ads campaigns. Later, Sega would release the Mega CD/Sega CD for the console, which would add the ability to play games off of CDs. Most of those games were interactive movies (a genre which plagued the early disc-based consoles) and the add-on did not sell very well. Later, in 1994, Sega announced the Sega 32X, a 32-bit attachment meant to increase the systems power with a minor upgrade. Sadly, they sold it for $159, which was more expensive than what the base console was selling for. Sega soon discontinued it. Sega also had a service called the Sega Channel, which it seems was only in the US. For ~$15 a month, plus an initial $25 activation fee, one could download games off the internet and play them on your console. The service was not hugely successful, but garnered a lot of money for Time-Warner. Sega has not released their world sales figures for this console, but guesses range from 29 to 40 million units worldwide. Its best-selling game was Sonic the Hedgehog with 15 million units. Its best-selling game that wasn’t a pack-in was Aladdin which sold 4 million units. The SNK Neo Geo Arcade games? At home? You must be joking! That’s exactly what this console set out to do, bring the arcade home. Since Neo Geo arcade units used cartridges to help save the arcade owners from buying a whole new cabinet every time they wanted a new game. If you wanted a new game you could simply swap the cartridges (and maybe the panelling if you were feeling frivolous). Because they had the cartridges all ready to go, making it a home system was pretty easy, and it obviously brought the arcade experience home faithfully. The major problem with the console was that it was $649.99US (and you thought the Turbo GraFX was bad!). Because the cartridges were so expensive (and huge!), the system eventually got a CD attachment, which cut down on game costs. Because it survived from 1990 to 2004 its lifespan is second only to the Atari 2600s. It is mostly something for hobbyists these days, and you will probably see some cabinets in your local arcade (if you even have any around). The Super Famicom/Super Nintendo Entertainment System This system was quite late to the party, being released in 1991, 4 years after the PC Engine/Turbo GraFX, 2 after the Genesis/Mega Drive. Some might consider that a disadvantage, but Nintendo didn’t need to release a new system; the FAMICOM/NES was doing so well, even against these new competitors. It launched for $199US, and came with Super Mario World as a pack-in title. In Japan the Satellaview was released for the system that worked a lot like the Sega Channel, in that one could download games off of the internet. The only difference being that you could get games that weren’t commercially available (such as a remake of the original Legend of Zelda). Nintendo also partnered with Sony for a CD add-on (we’ll talk about that later), but eventually stabbed them in the back and went with Phillips because they decided they didn’t like the contract they signed. They eventually abandoned the concept with Phillips as well. Despite Sega’s ad campaign to label the Nintendo as a ‘kid’ console, it still managed to outsell the Genesis, with a worldwide sales total of 49.1 million. Super Mario World shipped 20.6 million units. The non-pack best-seller was Super Mario Kart with 8 million units. Phillips CDi Ah yes. Remember how I just said Nintendo was working with Phillips to make a CD add-on for the SNES? Well… after they abandoned the endeavour, Phillips went ahead with the tech anyway. They eventually released the console in the fall of ’91 as the Phillips Compact Disc Interactive system. The CDi was supposed to be an all-in-one entertainment system. It played CDs, CDi games, Kareoke CDs as well as MPEG1 Video CDs (VCDs). Just like the Sega CD, it was plagued with horrible interactive movie games. Not only that, but the real games weren’t great either! This console is best known for having licencing to a Mario game and 3 Legend of Zelda titles as a lay-over from their dealings with Nintendo. Those games were Mario Hotel, Link: The Faces of Evil, Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon and Zelda’s Adventure. Discontinued in 1998 (!!!, they just didn’t give up!), it reportedly sold a dismal 570,000 units. If you're up for it, here's an informertial on the thing. Housekeeping!!! So there you have it folks. The fifth generation of consoles. Hope you enjoy this week, remember to post a nice little reminiscence, and don't forget: vote now, vote often! Stay tuned next week for the Second Generation of handhelds! Here are the brackets as the stand: Who will win? It could be you!* *Note: it can't be you. EDIT: The poll is now closed! Yay!