When people talk about the happiest days of their lives, they usually mention something like their wedding day, or the birth of their children. And that means those people have clearly never received a video game system as a gift. If they had, that day would definitely make their top five.
Don’t believe me? First of all, what’s your problem, dude? But second, we’ve got photos of kids taken the moment they got their game console, and their faces say it all. You will never see a more pure collection of human joy than this.
Last thing before we begin. As someone who’s wasted a big chunk of his life playing these consoles, I may turn into a nostalgic mess during this. Apologies beforehand!
1. Telegames’ Pong, released in North America 1975
Pong wasn’t the first home video game, but it’s an icon. These game systems were before my time, but if they had been around when I was a kid, I’m sure I would have happily spent my entire waking life playing them.
2. The Magnavox Odyssey 100, released in 1975
The original Magnavox Odyssey was released in 1972, and the 100 was its sequel. It was the first game console with sequels!
3. Atari Video Computer System, released in 1977
Ah, the Atari. Wasn’t the first game console, but it was the first GREAT game console. Its library of games is chock full of all-time greats, like Pac Man, Centipede, Missile Command, and Asteroids. It also had its share of flops, like E.T.: The Extraterrestrial bury unsold copies, which undersold so badly that Atari had to literally in the desert. Just like the mob does with their enemies!
4. Mattel’s Intellivision, released in 1977
You may remember Intellivision from the delightfully cheesy TV ads with George Plimpton, who clearly had no idea Intellivision or video games in general were. Intellivision was touted as “the closest thing to the real thing.” Of course, this was in reference to an 8-bit gaming system, but hey, at the time, it WAS the closest thing to the real thing.
5. Nintendo Entertainment System, released in 1985
Here we go. The NES is my first game console. Here’s a list of things I could have done with the hours I spent playing NES:
-Learn Mandarin AND Japanese.
-Build an entire neighborhood by hand.
-Receive an MD.
-Walk across every continent.
-Construct my own rocket and undergo the first manned mission to Mars.
And I wouldn’t trade any of it. If you’ve ever played Mario 3, you know why.
6. Nintendo Game Boy, released in 1989
The Game Boy and its many successors, like Game Boy Color, have sold over 118 million units, and for good reason–it’s one of the first handheld games that took cartridges. Over the years it offered hundreds of classic Nintendo titles you couple play anywhere, thus saving many a long plane flight. I feel sad that there’s a generation of kids who will never know the horror and dismay of losing an epic Donkey Kong playthrough because their batteries ran out.
7. SEGA Genesis Model 2, released in 1993
I never had a SEGA. But my friend Justin did, and he let me play Earthworm Jim. He is an all time great friend.
8. Super Nintendo, released in 1991
I never had a Super Nintendo. But my friend Michael did, and he let me play Street Fighter II, AND he would let me be Vega. If Michael was unavailable, I would go to my neighbor Kyle’s house. We weren’t friends, and we both knew why I was really there.
9. SEGA Game Gear, released in 1991
Now we’re talking! The Game Gear was SEGA’s answer to the Game Boy, and it debuted with a color screen, which at the time was huge. I did have a Game Gear, and once during a family vacation in the Outer Banks, my cousin Tom borrowed it and dropped it in the ocean, starting a blood feud between our families that continues to this very day.
10. Tiger Electronic Handhelds, released in 1992
These handheld games offered only one game per device, meaning they had much less cachet among elementary school boys. Owning one of these a not a Game Boy or a Game Gear could jeopardize your place in the Elementary School Boy Social Hierarchy. If word got out you had a Tiger Handheld, the best option for you was to change your name and move to a new country.