Games Gone By: From NES To Xbox One vs PS4
In 1996, I remember walking through the mall with my Mother. It was a few months before Christmas, and since it was before the time of online shopping, she would go all out for the holiday. I’m talking about the type of person who could find the unattainable items. Was the Nintendo 64 impossible to get? She got 2. Super Mario 64? She got 2. My brother and I wanted to try out the games at the kiosks before we got them for Christmas — she found the ones without a line.
We were poor growing up, but Christmas was when we were spoiled. I’m talking spoiled during Christmas to the point where it’s embarrassing that we asked for such things. The realization has made me despise gifts of any kind. That’s a whole other story. The point is that video games impact that sense of enjoyment I felt when I was a kid. Back then was the last real time I was obsessed with video games.
Before that time of N64 or Super Nintendo, I got my first Nintendo Entertainment System when I was around 6-years-old. It came with Super Mario Bro’s/Duck Hunt. It took my Dad and my Uncle a few hours to hook it up. It was so easy to hook up looking back, but since it was revolutionary, it was uncharted waters for parents to hook something like that up to a television — one made of wood. We just sat there anxiously like we would be waiting for pizza at a birthday party. They say time is different depending on the gravity you’re near. 10 minutes could be 5 hours watching grown-ups install the peak of childhood gaming.
After it was finally hooked up, we played for hours and hours. Any chance we had to spend any of our money was spent at Toys R’ Us to buy more games. They had these yellow tickets where the games were in the game aisle with prices on them. We bought Maniac Mansion for our next game. Did we buy it because it was the first choice? No. It was the cheapest we could pool our money to buy. Worth it? Yes. It took my entire neighborhood block 6 months to beat that game. It was such a memorable game that my friends and I would actually recreate it like Cops vs. Robbers when playing real-life game scenarios.
Then came the wonderful generations of Sega vs. SNES and N64 vs. Playstation. I would hear my friends argue relentlessly about which one was better at the time. I remember taking the sides of Sega and N64. I was never a fan of Playstation, and I preferred Sega because Sonic the Hedgehog was different and the music was great. Once I got tired of the console gaming of the time, I turned to PC gaming.
Quake 2 was almost a religion to everyone I knew. When we weren’t in school, we’d be on our computers playing against each other all day. It was around then that we found Winamp and could discover and play our favorite music. No one can deny that they had Napster, but since our connections were so bad, it would take over 24 hours to download a song. Kids are so lucky theses days… I sound so old.
The only system I bought between N64 and PS4/Xbox One was the Nintendo Wii and the Xbox 360. I played Nintendo Wii 3 times. 2 times was when I had family over and we played Wii Sports. The other time was when I had a buddy over and he played Super Mario Galaxy. After months of the Wii dust, I went onto Craigslist and exchanged it for the Xbox 360. I played that a few times, then eventually sold it on Craigslist to a guy in a 7/11 parking lot.
I was done with games. I couldn’t really get into them anymore. I would equate the fun of games to playing with my friends. We’d call each other out if we looked at each others screens to cheat and see where we are. With online gaming on consoles, there was none of that. You could play with your friends, but with the amount of games that came out every other month, they’d keep buying new ones while I finally bought the ones they were playing. I didn’t like playing games against strangers. I could only get maybe an hour in before I got bored. After that, it was maybe a half an hour. Then I just used my Xbox 360 to play Netflix or streaming my external HD off my network.
Now, we are in the present times of gaming, but I will only stick to PS4 and Xbox One. I own both of them. Knowing that I get extreme buyer’s remorse when spending money, having both of these feels stupid even now, but whatever. I’ve written before about the game No Man’s Sky (good review here, subsequent bad review here). I had no interest in buying any game system because I knew they would turn into expensive conduits to playing Netflix, but the trailers for that game, though dishonest after the fact, made me buy a PS4 months before the game was released.
It cost me about $400, but it came with Star Wars Battlefront and Fallout 4. Until my game came out, I got the game everyone is talking about and one of the most critically acclaimed games for PS4. Not bad! With the PS4, I was given back my love of gaming. I was out of the scene for so long that I forgot how beautiful games could be, and how great storytelling could be in this medium.
The PS4 has an operating system that’s really simple. It’s a horizontal line of options with icons that even a child could understand (and they do, because they kick my ass in SWBF).
Before No Man’s Sky came out, I got to get into all things PS4. And to be honest, for as much trash I talked for Playstation when I was younger, I take it all back if all the previous systems are as good as this system. Do I have Netflix on it? Duh. But I also get to do a bunch of other things on it that I would do on my laptop when I don’t really feel like sitting in my office behind a screen — a reason I got out of PC gaming. I bought many other games for PS4, and even games I didn’t enjoy were still good.
The one feature on the PS4 that I absolutely love is the PSNOW. It lets me play games from PS3. Games like The Last of Us and Red Dead Redemption were now available for me to play. The feeling that I missed all of these games felt like I’ve been missing what everyone has been freaking out over for years, but I’m only just now playing them. Then again, after everyone is done, I get to finally play them without anyone infiltrating that experience. It’s like watching Breaking Bad after the finale — I missed it when it was on, but I get to experience it all now!
While enjoying PS4 for those months, I saw a deal for a refurbished Xbox One online for $200. The ratings for the seller were 4.9 stars, and the system came with Ryse: Son of Rome and Sunset Overdrive. I remember seeing both of the games on an E3 remote that Conan did in 2014. Ryse looked beautiful, and Sunset Overdrive looked… interesting? Whatever, it was $200, so why the hell not?
I got the system in the mail, hooked it all up, tried to navigate the operating system, and noticed it was a bit confusing. I can understand it now, but I still get lost and have to Google how to do certain things. Have a look at the main screen:
As you can see, it’s a bit confusing. PS4 is more oriented towards gaming whereas Xbox One is focused on… well, everything you can think of at once. It’s more of a a computer than it is a gaming system. I could buy my parents an Xbox One, and they could not play one game. I could by my parents a PS4, and they would act like they did when I got them a DVD player — they won’t use it once unless I put a DVD on for them and play something.
I finally start to play the games. Ryse was amazing. It looks great, the action was great, the story was pretty good, and it took a me a while to beat. There was one level where the ground was clear and I could barely see what I was doing, so that might need an update, but overall I would play it again on a harder level just to enjoy myself. Sunset Overdrive wasn’t enjoyable at all. Not to mention th game not being enjoyable on any level, it also had zombies. Of course there are zombies! You can’t have a cool game about rollerblading on buildings without a stupid zombie bad guy. I played that for about an hour an have never touched it since.
I saw some deals on a few other games and thought I’d bite. I bought UFC 2 and Halo 5. I played UFC 2 twice, but quickly lost interest. I love the UFC, but maybe I am just not a huge fan of fighting games unless they’re Mortal Kombat? I played Halo 5 for a few weeks before I felt like I did with the Xbox One and lost interest after I beat the game and got tired of the same multiplayer I’ve played since the first Halo.
The argument seems to be curving towards PS4 over Xbox One, but that’s just my experience. I’ve played many games on Xbox One that I enjoyed. I played many games on PS4 that are bad. Star Wars Battlefront is a great game for an hour, but it’s incomplete and limited. The whole concept of releasing unfinished games is guilty on both sides: Downloadable Content (DLC) could be a great thing in gaming, but releasing unfinished games and charging you more to make the $60 you spent worth it.
I think Jeremy Jahns really nails the whole DLC thing in his video below:
Jahns’ rant hit every point that I want to make on DLC for both systems. The game that made me buy Ps4, No Man’s Sky, was an unfinished game on a level I’ve never seen before. Holy hell was it unfinished, but the developers are releasing patches to make it better (I suspect it was because the developers were forced to release on PS4 before they completed it, as evidenced by the content released lately that looks more like the trailers from pre-release). Star Wars Battlefront was an intentionally unfinished game. Why? They can charge people to pay more and more for it. $60 will turn into $200 after a year of release. Worth it? Not at all.
In a battle between the PS4 vs. Xbox One, the winner is both of them in their own way. For gaming, I will choose the PS4. For some gaming and more entertainment, I will go for the Xbox One. If I had to choose between all systems? Nintendo Entertainment System above all else.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post, UPROXX, BGR and by just looking up his name.