Friday, 22 January 2016

Top Five...Best-Looking Consoles

Big slabs of plastic aren't usually the type of things that anybody would describe as attractive or sexy but there's something undeniably cool and visually appealing about some of the lumps of hardware that we use in our hobby. Maybe it's an unconvential styling choice or an array of pretty lights? Perhaps it's a practical or functional thing? Or perhaps it's simply something we can't explain. Below are my personal top five videogame console designs, in no particular order...

1. Playstation 2 (original design)

"Really?" I hear you ask. Yes - really. The ridged edges may have filled up with muck in the hands of careless owners and they loved to break down but there's a no-nonsense appeal to the original Playstation 2. Some people would see this as the beginning of the end for interesting console designs, a point where hardware stopped looking unique and started resembling audio equipment or DVD players. Personally, the "80's audio equipment" look is precisely why I like the PS2. As far as anonymous black slabs go, the CD-i and Xbox One are far uglier in my opinion.

2. Sega Mega CD Mk1/Mega Drive Mk1 

As a gaming platform, Sega's Mega CD (or Sega CD if you live in the US) is a divisive prospect. Some love the quirky FMV games and the peppering of worthy exclusives while others will assure you that it was a monumental waste of money and crushing disappointment (I recall a forum conversation where a member admitted to throwing their Mega CD into a lake such was their disappointment with it back in the early 90's). What isn't up for debate however is the awesome image of one of gaming's greatest consoles beefed-up with its CD attachment. I can't quite put my finger on why this combo looks so damn good but it looks like it was in Sega's mind when they designed the MD itself; plenty of other expansions for different machines are clearly bolted-on afterthoughts. The Mega CD is no different but it sure could fool me.

3. Sega Wonder-Mega

Another of Sega's greatest hits. There were different variants of the Wonder Mega but the most popular design that the majority of gamers will picture in their head is this one by Victor. This MD/MCD combined unit wasn't released outside of Japan but it remains one heck of a desirable import. The sex factor increases when the WM is viewed in the dark with its various lights illuminated around the edge of the disc cover! I want one but I can't justify it in any way...

4. Gamecube (Mint Green Tales of Symphonia edition)

A special edition likely too "out there" for use Westerners. The Gamecube took some heavy flak for its handbag appearance and bright purple exterior but it certainly stood a mile apart from both the PS2 and original Xbox. Numerous special colours were released during the GC's lifespan (mostly in Japan of course!) and while the Pearl White unit was the most exciting it got here in the UK, a gloriously different mint green variation hit the Japanese market as a Tales of Symphonia special edition, complete with matching pad and GBA player expansion. I'm personally not keen on the tacky ToS panel on the console's lid but the colour scheme is unlike anything else and fits perfectly with one of the most unusual console designs around.

5. PC Engine Shuttle

The PC Engine must have the most variations of any console ever manufactured, especially when you factor in the Super CD-Rom expansion and the numerous different versions of the add-on. One model that rarely gets a mention though is the fabulously odd 'Shuttle' edition which does actually resemble some sort of futuristic space shuttle. With a shell that looks nothing like any other PC Engine variation and two dramatic fins, the Shuttle is certainly a head-turner.


  1. The Shuttle's fun to look at, sure, but that odd shape means you can't use the CD attachment with it...

    The WonerMega's a thing of beauty though, definitely - I love the Multimega as well. And I MIGHT be in the minority when I say I like the look of the Mega Drive II/Mega CD II setup as well.

    Plonk a 32X into the top of the Multimega for happier days still! I like the bluntness of the original Xbox design as well - literally a big black box with a massive "X" on it, ha!

  2. I'm surprised that there wasn't an adaptor of some sort released so that PC Engine CD units could be used with the Shuttle. Such a shame when it's easily the best of the family (in my opinion of course).

    Re. the original Xbox - there probably isn't another console that so blatantly displays which country designed it!