Q: It happened. My ColecoVision console finally bit the dust. Any recommendations on something new for this avid gamer?
A: They just don’t make them like they used to…35+ years ago, amirite? Well, assuming you have gotten some updated AV equipment (HDTV, Surround Sound, or based upon your last system, we’ll start with hard wired electricity), there are several options to choose from.
For this article, we’re going to stick to the big players for the most part. I would, however, like to briefly mention that Atari, Nintendo, Sega, etc. have been rolling out modern versions of their original consoles pre-loaded with tons of their greatest hits. If you are feeling nostalgic and don’t want to drop a ton of money on one of the more recent consoles, those are some very fun options.
You can find some nice choices here (amzn.to/2qouDTF). If you are ok playing on a computer, there are sites like playretrogames.com that offer a great variety of titles for old school gamers, including games that were only released in other countries.
As for the big boys, two of the major players have relatively dated, but high powered, consoles out. Microsoft’s Xbox One X (bit.ly/2qrcKDb) and Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro (bit.ly/2s1FPr5) were both released within the past 2 years but are really just newer versions of the consoles each company released way back in November 2013. The newer iterations have faster processors, improved graphics, and expansion options for additional memory. Depending on the options you choose, you’re looking at spending $300-$400 to get up and running with one controller and a game.
Over the past 5 years, some peripherals like the Xbox Kinect (bit.ly/2xpIwWg) and the PlayStation VR (bit.ly/1OwJ0xe) have added some additional, fun options to the playing experience, but both still fall squarely in the traditional console design, focusing on realistic graphics, lightning fast game play, and now online competition, in very similar ways.
Here at PropellerHead HQ, we don’t endorse specific products, but a more recent entry into the console wars from one of the original players has certainly caught our eye. After trying (and failing) to compete with the Microsoft & Sony with the release of the Wii U in 2012, Nintendo recaptured the wow and fun factor that accompanied their release of their groundbreaking original NES & Wii consoles with the Switch (nintendo.com/switch) in October 2017.
Nintendo learned from its past mistakes here, making sure they had plenty of titles ready to go at launch, making significant changes to the hardware, and returning to its roots by focusing on a unique & fun user experience.
For example, the console itself is a tablet that can slide into a small docking station for traditional play on a TV, or taken with you as a touchscreen tablet wherever you go. Rather than using discs like its competitors, the Switch uses SD cards which are much smaller and sturdier. This means you can take more of your games with you and worry less about damaging the media.
It also has made its controllers a hybrid of sort, able to connect to the console itself, attached to a traditional controller accessory, or be stand-alone one-handed controllers. New accessories are taking advantage of this in some interesting ways. For example, Nintendo has an April 2018 release date for its new Labo (bit.ly/2HsdwYr) kit that is designed to integrate gaming with engineering and coding through STEM based learning. I know it’s designed for kids, but honestly, I can’t wait to try it out.
They still have the sports titles, first person shooters, and role playing games that hardcore gamers like, but they also have titles that focus on making the experience a social one for anyone in your household, rather than just one person playing online against others (the Switch allows for that too, though). When you throw in some flagship titles involving Mario, Link, and the rest of the gang, what you end up with is a gaming system unlike anything else you’ve played before that is fun whether you’re 5 or 65.
So, I’ve provided several options to try and suit your needs. If you want to try something really unique and fun, I encourage you to check out the Switch. At least, maybe check it out after your back-up Commodore 64 goes the way of the dodo.