Thirty two consoles battle for the top spot in the editor's heart.

Super NES
Game Cube
Nintendo 64



Sega CD

Philips CD-I


NeoGeo Pocket
5200 & Vectrex
& Lynx
Virtual Boy
Gameboy Color
Since consoles have a habit of vanishing from my top and bottom ten lists, I've decided to create a more comprehensive guide to the game systems I like most... and least.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Jessboard.  Let me explain how it works... the systems on the left hand side of the board, marked in green, are in my opinion among the best ever created.  Their selection was based on several factors, including their impact on the video game industry, how much time I spent playing their games, and how much I enjoyed the experience.  I've chosen the NES as the best game system of all time due to its massive software selection, including dozens of classics like Super Mario Bros., Castlevania, Mega Man, and Kirby's Adventure.  Next to it is the Playstation, a similarly supported and important console that, frankly, is a lot more impressive than its 8-bit counterpart.  Flanking them is the 2600, the console that made all the others possible, and the Dreamcast, a terrific system with an ironclad software library that deserved more support than it actually received from both Sega and the game playing public.

Just outside this winner's circle of systems are the Gameboy Advance, Playstation 2, Genesis, and Super NES.  The Gameboy Advance is, without question, the most impressive handheld I've ever owned, and if it weren't for the frustratingly tough to see screen it would be more or less perfect.  The Playstation 2 deserves praise for being so versatile... in addition to having a pretty good software library, it's a great DVD player that also enhances original Playstation games.  Despite the Achille's Heels that negatively affect their performance, the Super NES and Genesis are both superb consoles that are well worth owning.  One advantage the Genesis has over its main competitor is that its games can be played on the go with a Nomad, which until the release of the Gameboy Advance could very easily have been considered the best portable game system ever made.

Hanging on the edge of greatness are the Saturn, Neo-Geo, its little brother the Neo-Geo Pocket, and the ColecoVision, sort of the early 80's equivalent of the Playstation.  I like to compare the ColecoVision to the Playstation because they were both created by companies with limited industry experience, who were nevertheless able to make their consoles successful with popular licenses.  Sega's Saturn would be considered a pretty lousy system if you judged it by its American software library, but things were much better for Japanese players, who could choose from hundreds of quality games that demonstrated the Saturn's potential.  The Neo-Geo combined the strengths of both the Genesis and Super NES, and would have scored much higher on my list if it had been a practical home system (it's much too expensive for this to be the case).  Its handheld counterpart, the Neo-Geo Pocket Color, had underwhelming hardware by comparison, but it was also a lot cheaper, and had incredible third party support its big brother could only dream about.

OK, on we go to the middle of the board, which showcases systems that haven't quite proven their greatness but were fun to play nevertheless.  So far, the X-Box rates a bit higher than its competitor the GameCube.  They share some of the same problems (the lousy controllers come to mind) but Microsoft's system is more powerful and flexible than Nintendo's.  Speaking of system rivalries, the Atari 5200 has smoother, more colorful graphics than the ColecoVision, but fewer games and some really nasty controllers.  If you've found one that works, don't expect it to stay that way for long.  The Game Gear and Lynx share a spot on this board... as far as I'm concerned, they fare about equally.  Sure, the Lynx has scaling and rotation, but its limited color palette and resolution tend to add a bitter aftertaste to this eyecandy.  Meanwhile, the Game Gear has a large selection of titles with popular Sega licenses, but many of these games don't compare favorably to their Genesis counterparts.

We've entered more dangerous territory now.  The systems in the orange column are disappointments, at least as far as I'm concerned.  It may have had its fans back when Mario 64 was released, but these days, nobody wants to touch the Nintendo 64... not game players, not used game stores... not even Nintendo itself, which normally supports their consoles well after they've been obsoleted but will have nothing to do with this one.  I had high hopes for the 3DO, but it performed below my expectations with a HUGE price and a software library that was anything but.  The Atari 7800 and Master System both have their fans, but I'm not one of them.  The Master System's games are generally much less polished than their NES counterparts, with poor level design and washed out graphics.  As for the 7800, well, all I can offer in its defense is that it looks more stylish than the 2600, and can play most of its games.

The next four systems weren't just disappointments... they were full-fledged mistakes.  I can't believe the Jaguar has such an underground following, because from what I remember of it there was absolutely no reason to show such devotion to this system.  Its 3D games were slow and choppy.  Its 2D games were bland and uninspired.  If previous Atari systems offered something for everybody, the Jaguar had nothing for anybody.  The Sega CD was a little more promising... everyone (but me) seemed to love Lunar, but the technology was clunky and there were more full-motion video games available for the system than any man should ever have to play in his entire lifetime.  Trust me, these used to be impressive ten years ago, but they have not aged well AT ALL.  Sewer Shark in particular looks like the inside of a cataract, and a particularly ugly one at that.  Speaking of severe eye trauma, we have the vicious tag-team combo of the original Gameboy and the Virtual Boy.  It's hard to find a handheld game system more primitive than the Gameboy (although sadly, there were a few).  As for the Virtual Boy... well, I loaned mine to a friend fairly recently and he couldn't give it BACK to me quickly enough.  As good as it is, even Wario Land is not adequate restitution for the massive headaches the Virtual Boy's stark red and black display gave most players.

I don't even know where to begin with the next handful of systems.  The Odyssey2 was much too specialized for its own good... because its graphics were already programmed into the unit, nearly every one of its games featured square-headed robots.  Yes, that's right... it didn't matter whether you put in Alien Invaders Plus!, or Pachinko!, or Quest for the Rings! (an early precursor to Gauntlet)... those square-headed robots would be right there waiting for you.  Frankly, I'm amazed that they didn't replace the ghosts in the Pac-Man clone KC Munchkin.  The robots thankfully weren't in Philips' next system, the CD-i, but you COULD find popular Nintendo characters like Link and Mario doing everything within their power to humiliate themselves.  I imagine that these games were created while Hiroshi Yamauchi was high on ether fumes, like in that episode of The Simpsons.  Mark my words... if you work for Philips and look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, your days are numbered.

The Gameboy Color was little more than a compost heap for misguided translations of Playstation hits and awful adaptations of equally rotten films.  It started out strong, but six months later, there was absolutely nothing of value on the system for adult players.  If they were the ones driving the portable game market rather than young children, the Neo-Geo Pocket would have absolutely DESTROYED the Gameboy Color rather than the other way around.  It's a crime that this piece of garbage was able to not only survive, but thrive on the success of one damned game (and you know which one I'm talking about).  Oh well, at least it's better than the Microvision...

I've put the systems I utterly hate on the far right hand side of the board.  The absolute worst of any of the consoles listed here is the, Tiger's foolish attempt to extend themselves beyond dedicated handhelds.  Smooth gameplay is very important to me, and the is very obviously incapable of delivering it... nearly every game on the system is choppy with a capital C, H, O, double P, and Y.  I can't help but wonder if they got the processor for the system from discarded toasters or something, because it couldn't possibly have been designed to handle graphics.  Fairchild's Channel F?  Man, that's just too easy.  If you can't find a joke in the name, try looking at the phallic joysticks for a while.

The Eversuck Asscadia- er, Emerson Arcadia- and 32X are locked in eternal battle, both hoping to be officially recognized as the gaming industry's biggest insult to its customers.  There was no thought of the greater good when Emerson released the Arcadia... the only thing they considered were the dollar signs dancing in front of their eyes when they released this sub-2600 quality console at a time when the 5200, Vectrex, and ColecoVision made their respective debuts.  Much later, the 32X drove yet another wedge into the user base of the Sega Genesis, offering a dozen near-Genesis quality games for $200.  Gee, what a deal!  Best of all, the 32X was tough to set up (just try to insert those electro-popamatic plates!) and never wanted to work properly.  If the game you put in actually DID start, there's no guarantee it would be presented in the correct colors.  There's nothing quite like playing Virtua Fighter with a clear green sky and ocean in the background.