NES vs PS2: A Battle for Reverence

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.

THE VERDICT

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?

35 Comments
36 Comments
Edited by jakob187

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.

THE VERDICT

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?

Posted by iAmJohn

As I've always said and will continue to say, NES and PS2 are the two most important consoles of all time. Without them, gaming wouldn't be anywhere near what it is today.

Posted by Animasta

PS2 still has a bigger, better library than the NES does, so...

Posted by jakob187

@Laketown: Quantity does not always equal quality, however. Sure, I love Dark Cloud 2 as much as the next guy, but I know that I've played Ghosts 'n' Goblins more times than most of the games that exist in the world.

Posted by TurboMan

wait... people prefer the NES over the SNES?

Online
Posted by iAmJohn

@TurboMan said:

wait... people prefer the NES over the SNES?

Quality of games between the two is debatable (I've always been more privy to 16-bit myself), but I think it would be pretty hard to argue that NES isn't a far more important console in the grand scheme of things than the SNES.

Posted by Video_Game_King

I'm kinda forced to go with the NES out of experience, but I do wish to get to know the PS2 more intimately. That's all I've to say on the subject.

Edited by MordeaniisChaos

More people revere the PS2, people who revere the NES revere it to a greater extent.

Generally speaking anyway.

Posted by jakob187

@MordeaniisChaos: A dubious point, good sir. However, does more reverence from a smaller community truly mean it is more revered? Again, the issue of quality vs quantity rears its ugly, misshapen head.

Posted by TehFlan

I have fond memories from both consoles, which makes it hard to choose. I will say that I think Kratos is a stupid character, though.

Posted by huntad

While I liked some of the games from the NES, the PC is really where I got started gaming. Then, the PS2 helped me find things other than FPS and Strategy games, so I give my vote to the PS2. Even though I only had an XBOX, I still played a lot of the PS2 and continue to play the games today.

The NES is awesome, but the games don't hold up for me today. I always moved forward, so when Nintendo remade their games to shit, it was a lot harder to get behind any of their franchises. I think Kirby, and Donkey Kong are some badasses, but the rest of their characters have ceased to do anything for me other than become intertwined with pop culture.

@TehFlan said:

I have fond memories from both consoles, which makes it hard to choose. I will say that I think Kratos is a stupid character, though.

I agree. He is a really really dumb character. The only thing going for him is his connection with the rest of the characters in Greek Mythology.

Posted by jakob187

@TehFlan: I agree that Kratos isn't the greatest of characters, but at the same time, he is a defining character in a way. People were afraid of marketing to Mature audiences, and above that, people didn't know how to make a character that could be in a Mature title that captured a huge audience...at least, in the mainstream that is. The most we had before that were guys like Sub-Zero and Scorpion. Kratos busted out and said "don't be afraid of advertising your bloody ass brutal game". If anything, games like Gears of War, Halo, and many of the other M rated titles nowadays owe a great deal to the ways that Kratos paved and how Jaffe and Sony were willing to push him out into the open.

Posted by TehFlan

@jakob187 said:

@TehFlan: I agree that Kratos isn't the greatest of characters, but at the same time, he is a defining character in a way. People were afraid of marketing to Mature audiences, and above that, people didn't know how to make a character that could be in a Mature title that captured a huge audience...at least, in the mainstream that is. The most we had before that were guys like Sub-Zero and Scorpion. Kratos busted out and said "don't be afraid of advertising your bloody ass brutal game". If anything, games like Gears of War, Halo, and many of the other M rated titles nowadays owe a great deal to the ways that Kratos paved and how Jaffe and Sony were willing to push him out into the open.

Yeah, I suppose I can respect that.

Posted by Matthew

hmmmm . . . Jakob, you're cool and all, but this smells a bit of console wars...

Posted by Rolyatkcinmai

PS2 is the obvious choice here.

Posted by Guided_By_Tigers

PS2 by far.

Posted by EVO

The PS2 practically raised me through my teenage years. On the other hand, I've never owned a NES. So take this with a grain of salt:

PS2 wins.

The fact that it's still selling a decade after it's release is telling of its legacy. There is literally a game for everyone. While the same could've been said about the NES in its time, I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone, given the choice between the two consoles and their respective libraries, take the NES over the PS2.

Posted by Jnorman

For me the PS2 is the winner but that is probably due to the fact that I spent more of my young life with a PS2 than I did with a NES. I wonder if a poll were taken and participants were grouped by age would there be a divide between the youner and older crowd.

Posted by Fizzy

Tough choice. I love Mario and Donkey Kong but I also loved Champions of Norrath...I can't decide.

Posted by TrashMustache

I'm sorry but I don't understand the comparison? the Nes versus the PS2? there's a 15 year difference there, even with SNES there's still a huge leap , they're different generations, besides you forgot crash bandicoot as a mascot

Posted by jakob187

@Matthew said:

hmmmm . . . Jakob, you're cool and all, but this smells a bit of console wars...

I've been on these forums since the dawn of time, and I've always spoken AGAINST console wars. This blog was meant as a healthy look into why we hold these things in such reverence, and in particular, what makes them reverent to us as individuals. I'm not looking for "this one is obviously the best". I'm looking for people to reminisce on why they liked one more than the other. Like I said in my original blog: in the end, the gamers are the winners for these two consoles existing. I personally pick neither one over the other. I spent a lot of time with both, and I enjoyed many games on both.

You of all people should know I'd never start a console war. If it turns into a console war thread, then I'll have a mod lock it. That's how I roll.

Posted by sopranosfan

Every time I would start to post one I would talk myself out of it with memories of something from the other console. I think I am going to go with the PS2 though because the NES had just so much focused on the platformer and beat em up games and I have always sucked at platformer games.

Posted by Matthew

@jakob187: Oh, believe me, I know you've been around here. Heck, we both have been here since essentially the start of this thing.

I just wanted to play devils advocate. While I can appreciate the thought and attentiveness you put into the compare and contrast of these two grandfathers, some might not come from my appreciative point of view. You did a great job breaking these two down; I actually really dig how you brought about the point of mascots. The PS2 (or playstation brand in particular) has never really had that strong Mario-like figurehead, instead (like you pointed out) they've had to cater a specific image towards its targeted demographic. And for the 64, you could make the argument that was Mario's last stand as a 'pure' iconic mascot, and has since then been relegated to the role of sellout cheerleader.

Posted by snake911

Oh yeah, I guess you're right. The NES and PS2 are probably the most successful of there times.

The PS2 and its hardware made it the perfect console for its generation because of a few major items:

- Embraced the DVD format and used it for both games and for standard video playback.

- Separate option for online playability.

- Perfect backwards compatibility with PS1 games. Plus the ability to speed up load times or provide texture smoothing.

- To my knowledge, the first console to replicate its predecessor's controller's form factor with the DualShock, which made it familiar to those who have played with the PS1.

- Inexpensive price, given all it could offer back in 2000.

With the NES, it was successful because of a few reasons too:

- Out of the box, gave you two games.

- Included a huge library of games spanning a large number of genres.

- Ensured gamers that their games were of a certain quality by having a Quality Assurance team test out each game for bugs and playability.

- All of your friends, enemies, and relatives had one. Which kept conversations focused mainly on the NES. This would be the primary item noting the system's success.

At least, these are what come to mind when I think of these two consoles.

Posted by likeapresident

@iamjohn: Whoa, whoa, whoa stop the clock. NES paved the way, and yes the gaming industry would be completely different without, it probably would be all personal computers as it turning to after Atari tanked the industry.

But PS2 has is just longevity, it didn't break anything as far as gaming goes. PS2 was SONY's response to SEGA's Dreamcast.

It was the Dreamcast that took gaming to a whole new generation and everyone followed.

Posted by iAmJohn

@iamjohn: Whoa, whoa, whoa stop the clock. NES paved the way, and yes the gaming industry would be completely different without, it probably would be all personal computers as it turning to after Atari tanked the industry.

But PS2 has is just longevity, it didn't break anything as far as gaming goes. PS2 was SONY's response to SEGA's Dreamcast.

It was the Dreamcast that took gaming to a whole new generation and everyone followed.

No lie, I cannot disagree with that last statement.

Posted by Tom_omb

I have little reverence for PS2, I was perfectly happy with my Game Cube at the time. I did eventually pick up a PS2 after its day, but didn't get deep into any of the games I bought. A list that included God of War, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Kingdom Hearts and a couple Metal Gear Solid games. Although I did play, and enjoy, the Sly Cooper trilogy on PS3.

On the other hand, the NES was my introduction to games. It's the year zero of games, as far as I'm concerned. Before NES is a primitive dark age of chaos and fear, after NES the age of enlightenment and civilization we currently reside.

Posted by Nekroskop

Stop the clock indeed... 2 years, 3 months ago. New users can't stop necroing. Don't tell me it's still relevant, it's still bad forum etiquette.

@iamjohn: Whoa, whoa, whoa stop the clock.

Posted by jakob187

N-N-N-N-N-N-NECRO THREAD!

Edited by Fredchuckdave

PS2 is the king, the monster, the invincible, the 85% market share motherfucker.

That said, Vagrant Story was a PS1 game.

Edited by HatKing

This shit is getting ridiculous.

But here's my two cents, both are great for their own reasons (I know, look at me being edgy over here). I'm nostalgically attached to both, so it's hard for me to say that one was more important than the other because they were both pretty damn important for one reason or another. Having said that, I think if the PS2 didn't exist, the crowd would have just flocked over to the Xbox. I realize that's a weird thing to assume, but the systems were relatively identical as far as hardware and software sophistication, and catered to similar audiences (much like the 360/PS3 and XB1/PS4). NES sort of saved an industry when there weren't really any similarly accessible avenues (sure computer games were still golden, but that was even more of a niche then than it is now).

Also, SNES is the best console ever released and PS1 had better games than PS2, so fuck all of you.

Posted by believer258

I don't think it's even a competition. The NES wins out only in terms of importance to video game consoles, and only because it largely saved the home console market. In pretty much every other category you can think of - especially enduring quality - the PS2 wins.

It might be a different story if we were talking about the SNES.

Posted by jakob187

I don't think it's even a competition. The NES wins out only in terms of importance to video game consoles, and only because it largely saved the home console market. In pretty much every other category you can think of - especially enduring quality - the PS2 wins.

It might be a different story if we were talking about the SNES.

Ah, but if you look at the PS2, it also had its share of importance to not just video game consoles, but technology in general.

Because of the PS2, DVD ended up winning out over laserdisc and became the go-to physical media format. Remember when the PS2 was the cheapest DVD player on the market? I do. Also, without the PS2, we wouldn't have seen how well free online could be handled all around, pushing for consoles to have online connectivity. Hell, they even had Final Fantasy XI on the thing, as well as an Everquest game. They were doing MMOs before consoles knew how to do MMOs.

Edited by believer258

@jakob187 said:

@believer258 said:

I don't think it's even a competition. The NES wins out only in terms of importance to video game consoles, and only because it largely saved the home console market. In pretty much every other category you can think of - especially enduring quality - the PS2 wins.

It might be a different story if we were talking about the SNES.

Ah, but if you look at the PS2, it also had its share of importance to not just video game consoles, but technology in general.

Because of the PS2, DVD ended up winning out over laserdisc and became the go-to physical media format. Remember when the PS2 was the cheapest DVD player on the market? I do. Also, without the PS2, we wouldn't have seen how well free online could be handled all around, pushing for consoles to have online connectivity. Hell, they even had Final Fantasy XI on the thing, as well as an Everquest game. They were doing MMOs before consoles knew how to do MMOs.

I just have a hard time placing more importance on a console that made DVD's and console MMO's popular than one that kickstarted home video gaming back into relevance. Sure, without the PS2, we might be using laserdiscs and we might not have MMO's on consoles, but without the NES we might not have a home console market at all.

EDIT: A note - there's a difference between a console's quality and its importance. The NES may be more important overall, but the PS2 was just chock full of great games, from pretty much any genre that works on a console.

Posted by jakob187

@believer258: It's the reason that I said in the OP that no matter which side you pick, you are picking the right side. = D

Edited by Veektarius

I don't like rectangular controllers, so PS2 wins.