Dr. Frankenstein's Games Console
I am a gaming Dr. Frankenstein, a Dr. J.S. Steinman, splicing together a gaming masterpiece in Rapture. But instead of relying upon a metropolis full of vain and willing cattle, I'm getting my slabs of flesh from EBay, Amazon and a neighbour's garage sale. This is the ultimate console, bringing together the best parts of a number of real-life platforms, past and present, to create a plastic Picasso that you can plug into your TV.
This is what the industry needs.
This is progress.
This is an excuse for a mid-week blog post.
1. The Name - The Magnavox Odyssey
As far as names go, the world's first video game console has yet to be bettered. I have no idea what a Magnavox is, but it sounds fucking wicked, like an 80's electronica band mixed with Sweden. That it had such an awesome name is quite surprising considering its unimaginatively titled games, such as "Hockey", "Shooting Gallery", "Volleyball", and "Dogfight". The Magnavox Odyssey is the first and best. If you knew nothing about video games, would you really choose to play a Wii, PlayStation 3, or Xbox 360 over a Magnavox Odyssey? Of course you wouldn't, and that's why I'm having it.
Runner-up: Neo Geo
2. The Logo - Atari
Finding a great existing logo was actually a lot more difficult than I had envisioned, with most of the offerings being either overly childish, or far too simple and unmemorable. Off the top of my head, I was thinking the PlayStation logo, as it has become a universally recognizable symbol, in the same vein as the Nike tick or Apple's apple, but on close inspection it's pretty ugly and far too colourful. So I've decided to go with the simplicity of Atari, which is still recognized today by people who wouldn't be able to name an Atari console if their life depended on it.
Runner-up: Super Famicom Disk System
3. The Vision - Sega Dreamcast
Say what you want about the Dreamcast, but it was undoubtedly a trailblazer, well ahead of its time and the competition. It stressed online gaming when Internet connections were still squealing out dial tones, something that is now so integral to our gaming experience that we take it for granted. Innovative and stylish games like Jet Set Radio and Shenmue still stand proud, and much like a musician that died before their time, the DC has retained a certain amount of cool. I can't think of another console that left such an impression in such a short time.
4. The Console Design - PlayStation 2 Slim line (black)
The PlayStation 2 Slim line (black model) is sleek, stylish, and most importantly doesn't look like a toy. It marked a huge improvement over the original chunky PS2 model, and is nowhere near as invasive as the current generation PS3 and 360, which need a corner of the living room all to themselves. When it comes to appearance, I also have a soft spot for the Nintendo GameCube, but it loses marks for looking a little too much like a toy, hence the PS2 Slim will provide the blueprint.
5. The Controller - Sega Saturn
There is a very good reason why Saturn USB controllers are still in demand. It fits so perfectly in the hand, the shoulder buttons feel just right and it strikes a perfect balance between being light weight yet substantial. Sure, you'd need to add a set of analogue sticks and a rumble function, but the basics are all there. The Night's 3D pad, despite looking rather unwieldy and far too round, was an excellent extension of the original and further cements the Saturn's position as king of the controllers.
6. The Game Catalogue - PlayStation 2
Sure other consoles may be able to boast a larger number of all time greats, but no platform before or since has provided such an extensive library of software and high volume of quality games. If you were to ask 10 gamers for their defining PS2 game, it's quite likely that you would get 10 different answers, and that speaks volumes. Metal Gear Solid 2 + 3, God of War 1+2, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Final Fantasy X-XII, Timesplitters 2, the GTA titles, Devil May Cry, Onimusha, Resident Evil 4, Guitar Hero, Okami, Ratchet & Clank, Kingdom Hearts, Gran Turismo 4 and on it goes. Listing games has never been so much fun!
7. The Game Packaging - Mega Drive / Genesis
Never overlook the importance of visually attractive packaging, or more importantly, the damage done by unattractive examples. I'm convinced the only reason the Saturn failed in Europe was because of the god awful plastic and cardboard cases! Should you go with something instantly recognizable, by aping DVD or CD cases, or do you throw convention out the window and create something unique, ala the Neo Geo or GameBoy? I've decided to land somewhere in the middle by choosing the Mega Drive. Close enough in appearance to other case types, yet distinctive enough to not get lost in a pile of DVDs, they provide the ideal middle ground. They are chunky, nice and glossy and most importantly they look like they house a video game.
Runner-up: The current generation of packaging
With roots in Greek epic poetry, a universally recognized logo, a forward thinking premise, game cases almost the same size as the console, a 16 year old control pad and an absolute shit-load of games, I present to you the past, present and future of home consoles. Close your eyes and enjoy it.