For many of us, the holiday season is about video games. Since we were kids we’ve been waking up on Christmas morning and hoping that the latest video game or gaming console is lying beneath that tree for us, and we’ve almost wept with joy whenever we discovered that dear ol’ Saint Nick had answered our wishes, checked his Christmas list and realized that we firmly belong on the ‘Nice’ pile.
With the holiday season just around the bend, we’ve decided to take a look back at all the consoles that have truly made the day something to remember over the years.
Here are the top 10 video game consoles that made Christmas special.
Video Game Consoles That Made Christmas Special
Ah, the Super Nintendo. My personal favorite console of all time, when I found the SNES lying beneath the tree on Christmas morning with Super Mario World and F-Zero I was thrilled.
While it looks tame by today's standards, the pseudo-3D of the console's Mode 7 graphics and the vivid colors of Super Mario World felt like the
future at the time, and for me it was my first experience of video games.
After playing the game for so long I could eventually whip through Super Mario World with ease, being an amateur speedrunner of the game before I even knew what speedrunning was.
I know many kids were as happy as me when they first received their SNES, and while I didn't quite go full 'Nintendo 64 Kid,' I came pretty close.
The best-selling console of all time, the PlayStation 2 was a landmark moment in gaming, with Sony strongly pushing the console to a more mature crowd.
However, younger players will always want to mimic their cooler, older siblings, and as such the PS2 was desired by both pre-teen and teenage gamers.
With a launch line-up of games including the mighty Tekken Tag Tournament and TimeSplitters, with plenty more fantastic titles just around the corner, as years went by practically everybody owned a PS2... but those who received it on Christmas 2000 were the luckiest kids in school.
While the Sega Dreamcast would underperform and eventually lead to the collapse of Sega as a console manufacturer, the Dreamcast had a wide selection of great games and was a hugely exciting console release at the time.
I remember the Dreamcast sitting side-by-side with Nintendo 64 in a booth at Toys 'R' Us, with Banjo-Kazooie playing on the N64 and Ready 2 Rumble Boxing on the Dreamcast.
While I never got my hands on the console, with a launch line-up consisting of Sonic Adventure, Power Stone and SoulCalibur, there was plenty for kids to get excited about in Christmas '99
Nintendo Entertainment System
Back in the 1985 holiday season news presenters were hurriedly trying to explain the appeal of the NES, which had swiftly found its way to the top of kids' Christmas lists throughout the country.
Launching with Super Mario Bros. the NES was the must-have Christmas present, allowing players to visit the Mushroom Kingdom for the very first time. The memories made with the NES would forge a life-long love of Nintendo for many players, and an early fascination with video games as an entertainment medium.
Game Boy Color
The Game Boy revolutionized handheld gaming, but the Game Boy Color was truly the greatest Christmas present to receive out of the two due to it coming armed with a very special couple of games - Pokemon Red and Blue.
The Game Boy Color propelled the Pokemon franchise into the stratosphere, launching a phenomenon that would soon encompass TV shows, trading cards, toys, stickers and more. Pokemon Red and Blue were two excellent RPG-light games that were actually released before the launch of the Game Boy Color, but the majority of us had to wait until the Holiday to get our hands on a copy alongside Nintendo's handheld device.
The original Xbox was a big, unsightly thing, with horrifically clunky controllers at launch and a bogey-green aesthetic that was entirely off-putting. However, it had one thing that no other home console had: Halo: Combat Evolved.
Those who got the Xbox back in 2001 had put it at the top of their Christmas list for one reason and one reason only, and that reason was to shoot some aliens in the hefty boots of Master Chief.
Though this system has been somewhat forgotten thanks to it lingering in the shadow of its much more popular successor, for many this console granted them their first experiences with online gaming, and with one of the greatest FPS series of all time.
We've all seen the "NINTENDO SIXTY-FOOOOUR!" kid, and the reason why that video is so popular is because it mimics that childlike excitement we all used to feel during the holiday season.
The thing that I personally love about Nintendo consoles is that they've always felt like really great
toys. Sure, the Xbox One may be a robust entertainment center and the PS4 a graphical powerhouse, but the Wii U is focused only upon creating as much fun for its owner as possible.
The Nintendo 64 was full to the brim with joy. Launching with Super Mario 64, a wondrous and revolutionary 3D platformer that transported Mario to greater heights than ever before thanks to the console's 64-bit technology, waking up on Christmas morning and being able to wander through the grounds of Princess Peach's castle made for an unforgettable holiday memory.
The ultimate console for the holiday season, the inclusiveness of the Wii's launch line-up, which included the simple yet overwhelmingly fun Wii Sports, meant that on Christmas Day 2006 everyone could pick up a controller and play.
Families around the western world spent the entirety of December 25th playing Wii Sports Tennis and Bowling, with it bringing the entire family together in the living room - the way that Christmas is meant to be spent.
Back when arcades were still "a thing," the Sega Genesis looked to transport that arcade experience to the living room, offering up a launch line-up of arcade ports such as Altered Beast that piqued the interest of many a kid back in 1989.
While the Sega Genesis' launch line-up was relatively decent, it was later in its life cycle when Sonic the Hedgehog was introduced as a pack-in game that it really began to surface to the top of Christmas lists worldwide.
The blue blur situated Sega in a battle against Nintendo and its mascot Mario, one which would divide playgrounds everywhere. Nintendo of course eventually won the "war," but Sega won many Christmas battles with its Genesis.
The PlayStation 3 doesn't feature on this list. Now before you raise your pitchforks, hear me out: when the PS3 was first launched, it was a ludicrously expensive, underdeveloped console that didn't exactly know what it wanted to be.
The PS3's first years were spent playing the underdog to the Wii and Xbox 360, and while it would perform far better in its later years, by that point most of us were old enough to go out and buy the console ourselves.
While the Xbox 360 didn't exactly have a stellar launch line-up, its more refined version of Xbox Live made playing online with friends even more of a breeze than it was on the original Xbox. I even managed to have fun playing Perfect Day Zero simply because I was playing it with friends, even though that game was horrifically bad in hindsight.
While the gap in quality between the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 would steadily decrease over the years, at launch the Xbox 360 was the far better (and more affordable) gift.