Best Console Design Decisions

General and high profile video game topics.
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VideoGameCritic
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Best Console Design Decisions

Postby VideoGameCritic » April 14th, 2020, 7:47 am

I was thinking about making a page to counter my Console Design Blunder page. This new one would contain the top 20 best design decisions.

So like before I'd like to get your input, but I'll toss out a few candidates to get things started.

- the pause button on the Atari 5200 controller.

- DVD capability in PS2

- switches on Atari 2600

CharlieR
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Re: Best Console Design Decisions

Postby CharlieR » April 14th, 2020, 10:02 am

Off the top of my head, I have a small one (no pun intended,) but it makes a huge difference to me. The stylus placement on the DS lite is awesome. It's right on the right side where it should be, making it easy to pull out during gameplay.

Further iterations of the ds/3ds systems have the stylus in weird spots. Some have it on the top or bottom. I know this is to make way for the systems' internals, and it would be difficult for them to put the stylus on the right, but I'm not sure I buy that. would it have really been that hard to put it on the right side?

Teddybear
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Re: Best Console Design Decisions

Postby Teddybear » April 14th, 2020, 11:30 am

Nintendo creating the dogbone style controller for the Super Nintendo (and using the design later for the controllers that came with the top-loader NES).

The dogbone is my all-time favorite controller - no more sore hands from using the rectangle-shaped NES controller from hours of playing Tecmo Super Bowl in a single sitting.

Teddybear
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Re: Best Console Design Decisions

Postby Teddybear » April 14th, 2020, 11:54 am

I just re-read your NES console review and discovered that you may disagree with me!

I just remember the palms of my hands being sore from the hours-long contact with the pointed corners of the original NES controller.

Either way....years later when I acquired a top-loader with the dogbone I never touched the original controller again.

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C64_Critic
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Re: Best Console Design Decisions

Postby C64_Critic » April 14th, 2020, 2:56 pm

Original Xbox, internal hard drive FTW!!!

I was so sick of dealing with both dead batteries on old SNES carts and trying to keep track of the bazillion little memory cards for the Playstation/PS2 - and don't even get me started on those dinky little VMU memory cards for the Dreamcast.

By adding a simple, small, 10MB (I believe that was the original spec) internal hard drive on the Xbox Microsoft had me shouting HALLELUJAH from the highest mount. All game saves for everyone on the house was self-contained and easily accessible from the moment you powered that little black box on. Absolutely glorious, a total game-changer.

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Retro STrife
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Re: Best Console Design Decisions

Postby Retro STrife » April 14th, 2020, 3:11 pm

Coming up with great designs is definitely trickier. Most console designs seem pretty straightforward, so it's hard to think of times that a hardware company really went above and beyond, or really thought outside the box. Even positive innovations have some degree of controversy or gray area in how they're received (like Wii motion controls, for example).

-Like the C64 Critic, the first one that popped in my head was the original Xbox hard drive. It added a lot to the cost, and risked the chance of failing easier than a memory card, but it was a good design decision overall and very necessary that a company finally go that route.

-Similar but even better: the detachable hard drive from the Xbox 360. I think that definitely makes the list. Smart design and very easy to remove. You can easily bring your games and saves to your friends house just by bringing the hard drive with you. But the real genius of the 360 hard drive came to light when the Red Rings of Death happened. Rather than lost all your files, you just junked the system and attached the hard drive to a new one. What a headache it would have been if the hard drive was internal.

These were the first two that popped in my head.

icepeople
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Re: Best Console Design Decisions

Postby icepeople » April 14th, 2020, 3:45 pm

D-pad on NES. The "joystick" controller that became the standard after every previous controller had some kind of flaw.

Alucard1191
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Re: Best Console Design Decisions

Postby Alucard1191 » April 14th, 2020, 4:08 pm

I really, really like the Switch's ability to be played in portable mode or hooked up to a TV. I didn't think that would matter that much to me as I'm not really a portable gamer, but I LOVE that it is portable. Makes it my most played of my consoles by far because I can just grab it and go. I have only ever owned a regular gameboy, so I never was the market for portable gaming. Consoles and PCs please... I love that the switch allows for both.

ActRaiser
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Re: Best Console Design Decisions

Postby ActRaiser » April 14th, 2020, 4:21 pm

The Xbox supported LAN out of the box with Halo.

N64 - supports four controllers without requiring a peripheral splitter or add on. This one pretty much defined my college years

For the Atari 7800 how about its backwards compatibility with the Atari 2600? We wouldn't see that same level of backward compatibility until the Wii and its backward compatibility with the Gamecube.

On the Wii front its controllers deserve some love via the IR receiver tied to the Wii console.

On the Dreamcast front what about including the hardware that made it easy to port the Naomi arcade games? Or that it shipped with a 56k modem by default and could be upgraded to a broadband connection?

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Retro STrife
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Re: Best Console Design Decisions

Postby Retro STrife » April 14th, 2020, 6:30 pm

^ Bunch of good ones here. The NES d-pad. Switch portability. N64 with 4 controller ports.

ActRaiser wrote:For the Atari 7800 how about its backwards compatibility with the Atari 2600? We wouldn't see that same level of backward compatibility until the Wii and its backward compatibility with the Gamecube.


This is a really good one too. Backwards compatibility is huge. I don't recall if Atari 7800 was the first to do it, but regardless, it seems like the first use of it where it was a big deal. As to the Wii-Gamecube though, I would point first to the PS2 backwards compatibility with PS1.

That reminds me... the PS2/PS1 compatibility was a great design decision in its own right, and worth mentioning. The PS1 was the best selling console ever at that point, so it allowed the PS2 to ride the PS1 coat tails while its game library was pretty weak for the first couple years. Another great design decision was the PS2 playing DVDs out of the box (even the Xbox needed an adapter). With most DVD players selling for like $200 back then, it was a no-brainer for many people to buy a PS2. Both of these features helped the PS2 become the best selling home console ever, and no other console has come close since.

ActRaiser wrote:On the Dreamcast front what about including the hardware that made it easy to port the Naomi arcade games? Or that it shipped with a 56k modem by default and could be upgraded to a broadband connection?


The built-in modem is another great point. Dreamcast online play was heavily flawed, but bringing consoles online was a huge deal back then.

Along the same lines, I'd also throw in the Dashboard and Xbox Live on Xbox 360 for consideration. If you ask me the biggest innovation in consoles during the last 20 years - I would say hands down, 100% it's what the Xbox 360 did to expand the user interface and online play for home consoles. Microsoft took the archaic system that other consoles used and modernized it to a level that instantly made the competitors look 10 years behind them. That innovation has influenced every single console and game since, and exploded online play on consoles to a level where multiplayer is now just as important as single-player. There's a lot of credit to go around for that, but I think the Xbox 360 deserves most of it. Now the big question, is this a "console design" or is it more of a software design? Personally, I'd consider the Dashboard operating system and Live online as part of the console design, because it is built into each console, but I acknowledge it's a gray area. If considered, I'd put it very high on the list because of its influence.


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