With the recent announcement of the Final Fantasy X HD remake coming to the Vita and the PlayStation 3, it would seem that Sony has learned from their previous HD collections what Nintendo has known for years now: people will pay top dollar all over again for the games that they have fond memories of. Nintendo recently threw a ton of free games at the "3DS Ambassadors" as their penance for the price drop debacle they've found themselves in.
This conundrum of sorts wakes a burning question for all gamers throughout the decades, a battle of the ages if you will. Which console holds more reverence in its designated decade: the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System or the PlayStation 2? Both are consoles that saw the mainstreaming of video games take center stage while also offering significant technical leaps in the technology that provided us the games we've come to know and love. With all this said, let's look at scientific breakdown of which made each console so great in a couple of categories, and in the end, comment on what YOU believe is the more revered of the two.
ROUND ONE - Characters and Mascots
Without doubt, it's easy for anyone in the gaming world...let alone the real world...to recognize the Nintendo mascots from a mile away. The faces of Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Samus Aran, and Kirby are unmistakable in both their designs as well as their unique gaming styles. If anything, it's almost a one-sided battle for us all. How can you side against this quintet of worldwide recognition and highly potent merchandising opportunities?
For Sony, it meant that they needed a wide variety of characters to appeal to multiple audiences. Unfortunately, many of their most memorable characters were not all necessary "in-house" characters. If you were to look at the heyday of the PS2, characters like Ratchet & Clank and Sly Cooper were developed by studios that were Sony exclusive but not actually owned by Sony. However, Sony had a secret weapon that Nintendo could never combat against, a character for the mature audience: Kratos. The Spartan warrior of vengeance and anger found a place where he could easily sit on his throne and laugh at the litter of bodies he left behind. Mario's head is sitting on a pike while Kratos bangs a triple set of Greek virgins in the blood of the Italian plumber. Beyond that, however, none of the characters can match the same broad appeal as what Nintendo had to offer. At the same time, no one can speculate what the reverence would be for character like Kratos, Ratchet, Clank, or Sly in the next six years as well.
ROUND TWO - Quality of Flagship Exclusives
The variety of ways that Nintendo has always been able to use their characters in a myriad of games has been an incredible journey. Even looking back at the original NES, it's amazing how diverse the genres each mascot approached could work in. The Super Mario Bros. franchise and Kirby focused on simple and fun platforming. Metroid focused on grinding through an incredibly dark world with precision accuracy and deadly weaponry. Duck Hunt allowed you to physically hold a "gun" in your hand and shoot your targets. Kid Icarus preferred verticality over traditional platforming. Mega Man was balls-ass difficult but somehow made you want to continue playing BECAUSE of its striking difficulty. Hell, even StarTropics took the tropes of The Legend of Zelda and gave them a course of natural progression. In an era where exclusives were mandatory to make your platform matter, Nintendo was untouched...and many would say that they still are.
Sony, on the other hand, represents a different era. The world had moved from simple "games" and into the world of "interactive experience". You didn't have to stare at small sprites for hours on end, but instead were transported into vast worlds lovingly rendered in polygonal graphics to immerse you into the characters and environments. Franchises like Metal Gear Solid showed what was capable with a graphics chip and a thoroughly active imagination, while Ratchet & Clank and Sly Cooper showed that platforming wasn't exactly dead, but rather needed a fresh coat of paint and a kick in the ass. For every hit that was out there like God of War, it seemed there was another game like Ico or Shadow of the Colossus that offered a unique artsy perspective to what a "game" could be. If the NES was an era of creating characters and gaming genres, the PlayStation 2 era was about breaking those genres down and retooling them to create something fresh and fun. Sony offered this in spades with their exclusives.
When it's all said and done, though, both companies must have done something right if they are able to repackage their old games for new-ish game price and still sell like hotcakes every...damn...time.
ROUND THREE - Console Innovations
Sure, the modern day techie inside of all of us is willing to flat-out say "SONY WINS" because of the ways that the PlayStation 2 pushed the envelope of home console technology. However, that would be severely undercutting the power of the NES.
When the NES came out, people saw it as a box to plug a game into, then turn it on and play a game. However, over the lifespan of the NES, the console saw many incredible innovations that helped garner it some unique attention, even if those innovations were not always the greatest thing in the world. Nintendo realized the power of the peripheral. Providing something that would allow players a different way to play beyond holding a small controller was a way to not only immerse people but to also broaden the sales market. Thanks to the Zapper, it wasn't just kids that were playing something like Duck Hunt. Thanks to the Game Genie, people were able to find ways to "hack" their games and experience new ways to play their favorite games. Hell, even not-so-great peripherals like R.O.B. and the Power Glove gave us a unique perspective on how to change the way games were perceived. Nintendo even went beyond this, offering a couple of jacks on the side of the console to record your gameplay footage onto a VHS (through a slightly complicated process back in those days). It was a console not just about experiencing worlds and fun times, but sharing them as well.
The PlayStation 2, however, pushed things into a whole new world. Single-handedly, the PS2 was responsible for the widespread popularity and consequential drastic price drop of DVD as a media format. Eventually, it led to the move from CD-ROM to DVD as the format of choice for retail games, lasting a solid 15 years and continuing still with the Xbox 360. It also brought the world the EyeToy, a camera that could be used to interact with games in a new way. This little camera would eventually lead the way to current motion gaming technology. While the Dreamcast before it brought us the first experience of online gaming on our home gaming console, the PlayStation 2 helped to popularize the idea with a franchise called S.O.C.O.M. Despite their best efforts, however, Microsoft would later take the cake from them with a service called Xbox Live. In the end, though, the power and the potency of the features that Sony included in their console was how they edged out over their competitors.
Let's be honest with ourselves: picking one side will only lead to us saying to ourselves in low-voiced mumbles "buuuuuuut I also like this about..." and leading to the ongoing debate that will always rage inside us. In the end, there is only one true winner: the gamers. Without these two magnificent steps in the history of gaming, things could've been very different all around. For all we know, home console gaming wouldn't even have survived through the 1990s due to the Arcade Crash. No matter which side you pick, you are picking the right side.
TAKE PART IN THE DEBATE!
There's a comment section below. Use it to offer your opinions on which is better, what makes them better, or if you just want to take a trip down Nostalgia Lane. Just..ya know...don't get caught by the guy with the bat in the alley there that wants to murder you slowly. That would be...bad?