The 90s was one of the most impactful decades for video games. Those years saw the rise of video game consoles that surpassed previous generations' 8-bit. Sure, 80s consoles were impressive, but consoles of the 90s are overwhelmingly more popular. In fact, remakes of 90s consoles can be purchased by retro gamers today.
Chances are you've heard of at least one of the consoles below. They have aged, but are still every bit as enjoyable as the day they released. Finding a 90s console in working condition is rare, which is why they can be costly. 90s gaming was perhaps more impactful than what followed in the next decade. 2000s consoles wouldn't exist in the forms that they did if it weren't for developments from the 90s. Without further ado, here are the 10 best consoles of the 90s.
10 Virtual Boy (1995)
The Virtual Boy is Nintendo's second-lowest selling console. It was meant to be portable, but with all the gear required to play the Virtual Boy, portability seemed like a pipe dream. Interestingly enough, movie rental store Blockbuster offered a rental option for Virtual Boy. Only 22 games were made for the system, including a game based on the 1995 Waterworld movie and Mario's Tennis.
Virtual Boy played games in 32-bit and was capable of displaying stereoscopic three-dimensional images in red and black. Years later, Nintendo would take another shot at three-dimensional games by releasing the Nintendo 3DS. The concept of the console sounded interesting, but in practice, it didn't impress enough people to be a successful console.
9 Atari Jaguar (1993)
The Atari company was a leading force in the video game industry during the 70s and 80s. They are well-recognized for creating arcade games, computers, and video game consoles. One of their most peculiar and controversial products was the Atari Jaguar.
The Atari Jaguar was a 32-bit console with a 64-bit object processor. In reality, the games played in 32-bit, which was typical for its time. Due to the fact that they marketed the console as a 64-bit system, the console received bad publicity. The Atari Jaguar was unsuccessful since Atari was only able to sell about half of their inventory. Atari claimed to have the most advanced console, but they instead upset potential customers and were forced to merge with JT Storage.
8 Sega Game Gear (1990)
There have been significant advances in portable video game consoles, and the Sega Game Gear was once a relevant handheld system. Compared to Nintendo's Game Boy, the Sega Game Gear sold fewer units. Sega Game Gear did display games in color, which the Nintendo Game Boy could not, but it didn't make it as a successful handheld console due to Sega focusing on their home console, the Sega Genesis. With Sega shifting their focus, the Nintendo Game Boy was able to become the highest-selling handheld console to date.
7 Neo Geo (1990)
According to dualshockers.com, "SNK announced they have plans to revive their NeoGeo line of consoles with a NeoGeo 2 and later on a NeoGeo 3." Neo Geo was not as widespread back when it released. They sold 1 million units, which was admirable for the time, but it's still way less than other leading consoles like the Nintendo Wii which sold over 100 million units. Games like Metal Slug, Garou: Mark of the Wolves, The King of Fighters '98, and Blazing Star were some of the console's greatest hits.
6 Sega Dreamcast (1998)
For the most part, Sega Dreamcast was a complete failure. Between the time it launched in 1998 and the time it was discontinued in 2001, the Sega Dreamcast sold 10.6 million units. Perhaps Sega Dreamcast was ahead of its time. It was the first console to truly embrace online play, and it had quite a few Sega hits. We remember the Sega Dreamcast for hosting games such as Jet Set Radio, Sonic Adventure, Shenmue, Soulcalibur, The House of the Dead 2, Dead or Alive 2, and NFL Blitz 2000.
5 Sega Saturn (1994)
Released years after the Sega Genesis, the Sega Saturn may be one of the most underrated consoles on this list. Only four years after its release, the Sega Saturn was discontinued in North America and Europe but was still sold in Japan. Graphically, Saturn's games were impressive. For many people, Sega Saturn is their favorite console of all time. Having to compete with consoles like the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation contributed to the downfall of Sega Saturn.
There is a multitude of reasons to explain why the Sega Saturn was a failure. Its launch came abruptly, so not many people knew about the console. Also, a lack of availability in stores was problematic. Sega Saturn was a significant upgrade over the Sega Genesis due to having higher display capabilities and a stronger VDP1 & VDP2 video display processor. We miss Sega Saturn for games like Panzer Dragoon Saga, Street Fighter Alpha 3, and Rayman.
4 Super Nintendo (1990)
Games such as Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, Earthbound, Star Fox, and Super Castlevania IV are why Super Nintendo stands out from the rest. Sure the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) was impactful for making 8-bit games come to life, but the Super Nintendo was a huge improvement over the NES. Quite a few people still have Super Nintendos in working condition. If you're not one of those, you can pick up the SNES Classic Mini for under $200.
3 Game Boy Color (1998)
Nintendo's Game Boy Color is one of the most revolutionary and meaningful handheld systems in video game history. Being able to play a video game console in your hands was never fully realized until the release of the original Game Boy. Years after the release of the first iteration of the Game Boy, a smaller version of the system that displayed color was released. It was named the "Game Boy Color." It's worth noting that not all games released on the Game Boy Color were compatible with Game Boy. The Game Boy did, however, pave the way for the release of the Game Boy Color.
2 Nintendo 64 (1996)
The number of exclusives and hits on Nintendo 64 make it a top-tier console. Sure, newer consoles like the Nintendo Switch have more bells and whistles, but in the end, quality games are important for the success of a console.
The Nintendo 64 was the platform for games like GoldenEye 007, Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Donkey Kong 64, Mario Kart 64, Banjo Kazooie, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Pokémon Snap, and the list goes on. By using an expansion pack, one could increase the N64's RAM from 4 MB to 8 MB. The Nintendo 64 doesn't sport the best graphics on this list, but they were good for its time.
1 Sony PlayStation (1994)
And so we come to the last console on this list. The PlayStation is the best console of the 90s. Sony was able to capitalize on the gaming market by developing a video game console that surpassed its competition in quality peripherals and games. PlayStation's DualShock controllers were a revolutionary invention that inspired later video game controllers.
Recently, Sony released a miniature version of the console, which contains 20 of the "best games from the original PlayStation console." It's called the PlayStation Classic, and it can be purchased for $40-$50. Sony PlayStation is the best representation of 90s gaming. PlayStation was the platform for games like Metal Gear Solid, Parappa The Rapper, Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night, and Resident Evil 2.