Eighth Generation of Gaming Retrospective: The Good, the Bad and the Gimmicky
In the world of video games, there are such things known as generations. Eras spanning from the birth of one console to the arrival of the next. This month is no different, bring the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X in less than a few weeks. However, while the next generation is just around the corner, the last generation deserves a send-off for the good it did (mostly). This is a retrospective of the eighth generation of gaming.
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The Nintendo 3DS
- Company: Nintendo
- Release: Spring 2011
- Variants: 3DS,3DS XL, 2DS, new 3DS, new 3DS XL, new 2DS
- Notable Games: Pokémon Sun/Moon, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Super Mario 3D Land
Speaking of the gimmicky. Ladies, gentlemen and non-binary folk, I present the 3DS. Following the success of the regular DS, you would think that Nintendo would expand on everything that made it great. “However,” thought the geniuses at Nintendo headquarters, “what if we do that while also coupling it with the current Imax 3D craze!” This sentiment aged like milk in a desert.
The 3DS was an alright console. It had fun games and was good for what it was: a portable, stronger DS. However, the push of such a gimmicky feature, coupled with the lacklustre hardware, is why the only notable games for the system were made by Nintendo themselves. No other studio wanted anything to do it. However, Nintendo’s games alone paid off as it still sold over 75 million copies. The 3DS did well, but it could have been so much better.
The PlayStation Vita
- Company: Sony
- Release: Winter 2011
- Notable Games: Persona 4: Golden, Tearaway, Wipeout 2048
The PlayStation Vita launched to critical acclaim. People were praising it for its, amazing graphics, for a handheld, fun games, and great hardware. It looked to be a success and a legitimate competitor to the Nintendo 3DS. However, that is where the problem lied—the 3DS.
At the time of the PlayStation Vita’s launch, the Nintendo 3DS had been out, worldwide, for nine months. That was enough time for Nintendo to port, both, one of the highest-rated games of all time (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) to the system and bring a Mario Kart to the console. Who needs a new handheld when you can have Mario Kart?
Sales for the Vita dropped off almost immediately. Its flagship game, Tearaway, was later ported to PlayStation 4; and, aside from fans of anime-esque games, nobody cared about the PlayStation Vita. A tragic end for, what could have been, an amazing handheld.
The Wii U
- Company: Nintendo
- Release: Winter 2012
- Notable Games: Super Smash Brothers’ for Wii U, Mario Kart 8, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
The Wii was a big deal. As you know, everyone and their grandmother bought a Wii. So, when Nintendo was looking to create their next console, they did the smart thing and decided to make a better Wii. Thinking “if the Wii sold well, imagine the Wii 2!”, led to the creation of the Wii U. It released November 2012. Nobody bought it.
People give many reasons to why the Wii U sold poorly. Some say the games, others said the hardware. The truth, however, was the advertising. For a long time, people didn’t know whether the Wii U was a new console or just a better Wii. This led to people not buying it on release, sales plummeting and all other companies running for the hills–taking their games with them.
Much like the PlayStation Vita, if you had the console, you enjoyed it. However, the lack of support from other companies meant the console struggled throughout its lifetime; Nintendo starting work on a new console just 2 years after its launch. Another sad death for an, arguably less, good console.
The PlayStation 4
- Company: Sony
- Year: Winter 2013
- Variants: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Slim, PlayStation 4 Pro
- Notable Games: God of War, Detroit: Become Human, Spiderman
In early 2013, Sony held two spaces in the top five best-selling consoles of all time. Thanks to the PlayStation 4, Sony now holds three. What can be said about the PlayStation 4 which has not been said already? On launch, it received unanimous praise and that has just not stopped growing. The graphics are great. The games are some of the best ever made. The only complaint is that the PS4 Pro, the 4K variant, has a somewhat loud fan. However, that is all. Praise be to the PlayStation 4; may the PlayStation 5 do even better.
The Xbox One
- Company: Microsoft
- Release: Winter 2013
- Variants: Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X
- Notable Games: Halo 5, Gears 5, Xbox Game Pass
For the first three years, the Xbox One felt like a joke. Following the strength of the Xbox 360, Microsoft, launched a console forcing players to use the worst part of the previous console (Xbox Kinect: a glorified webcam), tried marketing it as a TV alternative and it had few games. Then they released Xbox Game Pass.
Instead of buying a new game, you could pay Xbox £10 a month to get a Netflix sized catalogue of games, ranging through all genres. Suddenly, the laughing stock just got the best deal in all of gaming. Double takes were had by all. The Xbox One was not a great console. Now, it is one of the best consoles out there—nothing more to say than that.
The Nintendo Switch
- Company: Nintendo
- Release: Spring 2017
- Variants: Switch, Switch Lite
- Notable Games: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, Super Mario Odyssey
After the Wii U, Nintendo was almost done for. Not financially but reputably. If the Xbox One was the laughingstock, the Wii U was the court jester. It would take a miracle for Nintendo to come back from this. That miracle has a name; the Nintendo Switch.
Take the fun of the previous consoles (ground-breaking games, multiplayer, solid graphics) and give it the portability of the 3DS. That is how you print money. The Switch, within 3 years, has almost managed to outsell the Xbox One and the Wii U combined. Those three notable games, upon release, were cited as some of the best ever made. The Nintendo Switch is a masterclass of a console and, if Nintendo plays their cards right, could end up as the bestselling console of all time. It is that good.
The eighth generation of gaming will go down in history as when all three of the big developers ended on a high. If the next is anywhere as good as what we have now, the future looks bright. Almost blinding.
Written by Features Editor: Harry Potton.