Cross Generation Console Wars, Part 1: PS2 vs NES

The PS2, the best selling console in history and the one responsible for making videogames a mainstream media in households all over the world, versus the NES, the console that saved the gaming industry from disappearing and set a standard for videogame quality. Who would win in a console war?

To make this a fair fight, graphics and power are not taken into consideration in this war, only games, gameplay, market share, controllers, design and users’ opinions.


VS

GAMES
The mayor selling point for every console out there ends up being the games. While the ideal console should have an equal amount of games per genre, it is often found that consoles tend to go with one genre over the others. This is specially true for the NES and most Nintendo consoles, where platformers and other non-violent games tend to become the norm, this of course doesn’t mean you can’t find a shooter for the NES, Contra is one of the best shooters ever and was very popular, still it didn’t even make it to the Top 6 best selling games. For the PS2 on the other hand, there is a tendency to go with racing games and action. Here is the list of the Top 6 best selling games of each console:

Best selling NES games:
- Super Mario Bros
- Super Mario Bros 3
- Super Mario Bros 2
- The legend of Zelda
- Tetris
- Dr Mario

Best selling PS2 games:
- GTA San Andreas
- Grand Turismo 3
- Grand Turismo 4
- GTA Vice City
- GTA 3
- Metal Gear Solid 2

If I had to choose I’d go for the PS2 because it has MGS2 and Vice City there, but leaving my opinion aside, seeing how well most NES franchises have done to the point where we still play them today I will pick the NES as a winner.

Winner: the NES

Games like these still live on in spirit in today’s generations

GAMEPLAY AND CONTROLS
While good quality games is a must, being able to enjoy playing your games is crutial. The simplistic design of the NES controller was either very good for some games, or very frustrating for others. On the other hand, being more technologically advanced, the PS2 controller allow for more precise actions and more freedom in-game.
I know it’s a bit off to compare two controllers that are so far apart in time, but this comparison may become more clear with upcoming Cross Generation Console Wars.

Winner: the PS2

Being more technologically advanced, the DualShock 2 far surpasses the minimalistic design of the NES controller.

MARKET SHARE AND SALES
This one is tough. The NES came out in a time where videogames where going extinct due to the videogame crash that the Atari 2600 caused. People thought videogames was a fading fad until Nintendo entered the business for good and changed all of this.
The Big N set a few standards for videogame quality to prevent shovelware titles, one of the causes of the crash. This lead to the NES becoming the one and only console in the market with a 90% market share, leaving the Sega MasterSystem lack behind, a lot.
On the other hand, the PS2, while having only 60% of the market share, it was able to outsell every console ever created and it still is the top selling console in history, aside from being the only console to compete in 2 generations for over a decade.

To sum up: the NES had a bigger market share, but it quickly dropped in the generation that succeed it, while the PS2 managed to stay strong for 2 consecutinve generations, and PS2 games are still sold today. With this said, I believe both consoles are tied here.

Winner: None, both are tied.

DESIGN
The design of a console is a very important selling point. Nobody wants an ugly-looking console, nor a console that easily breaks. This said, lets take a look at what both consoles have to offer.

The NES on one side was design to look like a VCR. Nintendo didn’t want people to call the system a “videogame system”, to prevent people from linking it to the past generation disaster, but this eventually lead to an oversized console, with more air inside than actual electronics. This lead to one mayor flaw in the console design: the pins that connect to the cartridge bent easily, leading to the console to take extra effort to read the games, or to stop reading them altogether. People though that blowing your cartridges was a solution, but it wasn’t, this lead to moisture starting to break down the electronics, causing more bad than good. There was an NES 2, which used top loading for cartridges instead of the VCR-like interface of the original NES, but it wasn’t that popular.

While smaller and more reliable, the NES 2 wasn’t as popular as it’s bulkier counterpart.

The PS2 started being a very big and bulky console. Not only that, but the disc feeding tray had a tendency to break down. The system made a lot of noise with the fan, and the lack of good HDD support made that extra hole for the HDD unnecessary.
Sony eventually fixed all this by launching a much smaller redesign of the console, with a much quieter fan, and no big HDD bay. This model of the console quickly became popular, and was the model that continued to sell in the next generation.

Winner: The PS2

the NES’s faulty drive and bulky size is a big impact here, and while the PS2 was initially just as bulky (if not more), its smaller redesign was very popular, unlike the NES 2.

VOX POPULI
Last but not least, I created a thread in /talk to ask users which of the consoles they prefer most. While most people chose the PS2 simply because they grew up with it or because it’s the only they have played of the two, some of the NES voters had a pretty solid point:

“Oh wow, tough call.
Too many games I like on both.

I’m going to say NES.
As much fun as I had on the PS2, its the NES that keeps coming back as the place to be.
Can’t beat that 8bit Megaman music.”
- jc_gargma

“NES
i like classic games
i never had a ps2 i have a xbox”

- >forces<

And I specially liked this PS2 voter’s opinion:

“I probably finished more NES games than PS2 games but I have to say PS2 because of FMCB and SMS Media Player. I used the ps2 for ages as an avi player on my old tv.”

- b2p1mp

It is true that for Media Center the PS2 is great, but only if it’s modded, which was not so common back in the era where FMCB didn’t exist. DVDs where a thing though, and the PS2 could read them.

You can view the entire thread .

The overall score in this vote was:
PS2: 7/10
NES: 3/10

Winner: the PS2

Most people today have only played the PS2, so it’s a no-brainer that it’ll get more votes.

CONSLUSION
The PS2 has scored 3/5, tying up in one of the categories, while the NES only scored 1/5, tying up in one of the category. This makes the PS2 the all-time winner, mostly due to hardware faults and the technological gap between the two. This doesn’t change the fact that both consoles made history, and both are still enjoyable even today.

  1. Somehting Something Somehting Light Side’s avatar

    i don’t get why Mario is so popular, its the dumbest game in history and it never changes, they re-use most of the levels so you find the exact same level in ever game, its just dumb, it’s like Nintendo Milks that dead cow while the Mario fan base give give the cow mouth to mouth resuscitation

    Reply

    1. VIRACY’s avatar

      I’m just going to assume your under the age of 15.

      Reply

      1. Somehting Something Somehting Light Side’s avatar

        ahh no, I’m a very bored 20 year old who in his spare time compares Video Game levels for games and their sequels as hobby and my finding have been so far for Mario are that:

        A lot of Mario levels are re-used, so far to say that world 3-4 of Super Mario Brothers 1 is the same as world 5-2 in Super Mario Brothers 3 except SMB3 is slightly better graphics and some blocks have been replaced with either holes in the floor or star blocks instead of Normal blocks

        Reply

        1. Thrawn’s avatar

          You’re 20? That’s too young, you never touched the NES in it’s PRIME TIME, you would not know.
          I’m 27, even I didn’t touch the NES, and barely touched the SNES considering it was released 1991 and I got one when I was eight so 1995.
          And also, it doesn’t matter how many times they re-use a level, mario is a kid friendly game or would you give a six year old battlefield 4 or cod black ops whatever?
          It has a simplicity to it that other games do not have, you cannot expect a six year old kid to be an einstein.

          Reply

          1. Somehting Something Somehting Light Side’s avatar

            i guess your right, but yes, yes i would give a 6 year old Battlefield 4, i wouldn’t give them Call of Duty though as i want them to be a good kid, not like those foul mouth kids who play it, when i was 3 i played Doom

        2. Darkova’s avatar

          The problem here is a pseudo-philosophical young adult ignorantly asserting what he believes to be fact. His subterfuge in the guise of narrow-sighted observations of levels plays to a queer sort of logic that he probably misinterpreted as Vulcan logic after watching a few episodes of star trek. He probably came to the conclusion that all the episodes of star trek have the same theme or plot design.

          Reply

          1. Darkova’s avatar

            However, I will not claim this as fact; It’s just an observation…

          2. vicsidious’s avatar

            Man, you use big words… But I agree with you!

    2. thediamante’s avatar

      I agree with VIRACY.

      Does your mom even know you’re using the computer?

      Reply

      1. Somehting Something Somehting Light Side’s avatar

        read my reply to VIRACY

        Reply

        1. NakedFaerie’s avatar

          LOL. kids.
          I was playing games before the NES was even invented. It was never really that good when it first came out. I think that gaming really started bigtime when the PS1 came out.
          It was more fun when you had to type in your games and made them yourself. Now that was fun.

          The problem with Nintendo is they are for kids where $ony made games for everyone. How many Nintendo games are aimed at adults? I’m guessing 0 or maybe 1. There are hundreds of $ony games that are adult games. There are also thousands that are kids games. $ony will always win the war against Nintendo.

          Reply

          1. NakedFaerie’s avatar

            My mistake, I meant CONSOLE GAMING was really started with the PS1 not gaming in general. Gaming did start with consoles then moved to computers then consoles tried again and now its sort of moved to consoles but games will ALWAYS look better on PCs no matter what console makers do.
            PCs these days are already better than the PS4 so if you want to see an awesome looking game get a PC and play it at full quality.

  2. Soldier’s avatar

    Ps2 is a doo doo juice. Nes will always be better than any of Sony or Microsofts products. The only brand that ever could slightly compete against Nintendo in quality was Sega. Actually Sega in my books was coming out with better games when the Dreamcast died. Genesis also did have an epic battle against Snes. I grew up with the Genesis and that console was also pretty cool. The Nes is the best tho because it had Contra, Super Mario Bros 3, Shatterhand, any many other titles I can’t remember off the top of my head. It also had many War games that were good such as Guerrilla War, that one tank game I can’t think of the name of it but you blow up buildings and rescue people that way.

    Reply

  3. Hellbelial’s avatar

    Admit it guys nintendo was the first console,well no,but one of the greatest ones,i like mario but i love grandia,legaia,fatal frame,parasite eve ad many many others.This is like comparing a candy with a chocolate TOFI or talking about that,x-com psx versus valkirye profile of course i will choose VP instead that shitty poor game.I have many of newest games in pc but sometimes i play Rockman nes,Monsters in my pocket,teenage ninja mutant turtles manhatan,Battletoads Double Dragon,Double Dragon 1,2 & 3,sonic,splatterhouse,castlevania bloodlines,splatterhouse 3 Rocket Knight,Mega Turrican,Comix Zone and many many others.Blame Dlc when it show up because of that the concept of play to unlock is lost.All consoles are great,Psx And ps2 were and still are great consoles.By the way,im fucking tired about indies and legos in ps vita sony needs another portable console vita will be dead sooner than they expected.

    Reply

  4. NakedFaerie’s avatar

    Easily the PS2 wins if its just about games as it has the most games out of the two consoles and the PS2 games cater for everyone where the NES is for kids.
    Nintendo have never really been a all round gamer, its always been for kids where $ony have been for everyone old and young.

    And how about posting how many games each console has. I’m guessing it’ll be like NES = 100 PS2 = 1000. Thats what it feels like to me.

    Reply

  5. mlc’s avatar

    worst article ever. lol

    i’m not even trolling, i just think this is a really bad idea

    and it’s from Acid_Snake, if you know what i mean, rofl ;P

    Reply

    1. Itherian’s avatar

      I think it was a interesting article agree with it or not. Fact is I do not see your articles, so if u can do better put up or shut up.

      Reply

      1. mlc’s avatar

        I don’t have anything to say of importance, which is why I haven’t volunteered to write articles for this site. Acid_Snake obviously doesn’t have anything to say either, as demonstrated by this sort of rather pointless post. This would do better as a forum thread than as a front page article.

        And obviously it’s not terrible in every way, I’m just saying that this isn’t a very interesting premise: The NES and PS2 are completely different, so any effort to compare them comes off as a bunch of pointless bullshit. Anyone with half a brain can write some bs, but it doesn’t mean it is of high enough quality to have a place on this site.

        Reply

        1. Acid_Snake’s avatar

          you obviously don’t know what the front page is about and what type of content goes here. Basically, the front page is about wololo and what he likes or dislikes, us guest bloggers simply help him spread his voice. If this article made it to the front page is because he liked this content, and again, this site is about wololo. If you do not like what wololo likes, I kindly ask you to leave the site altogether.

          Reply

          1. mlc’s avatar

            Um, I think this indicates that wololo is a nice guy, if you get my drift. I’m sorry to have offended you, and I certainly shouldn’t have implied something rude simply due to my past impression of you. I was attempting to criticize the article in a relatively lighthearted way, as shown by my usage of “lol,” the obviously excessive “worst article ever,” and the clarification that I simply think it was a really bad idea.

            I’ve seen what sort of content goes on the front page, and I might just criticize it occasionally if I think it’s too fluffy. I can see how that would offend the writer, though I doubt it would seriously offend an adult like wololo. But, once again, I’m sorry to have hurt you but I must admit that tact has never been my strong point. I’ll make sure to compliment any future articles of yours that I do like, so you shouldn’t feel the need to get so defensive as to ask me to leave.

          2. wololo’s avatar

            I’d like to nuance some of Acid_Snake’s choice of words here.

            I did read this article before publishing it, and I enjoyed it (and the concept behind it) a lot. I think it’s a solid article with good research and an interesting concept. In particular I like that Acid_Snake was able to handle quite seriously a subject that looked like it would lead to a comedy article in the first place. So I stand behind the choice of publishing the article, and will publish the other ones in the series.

            Now, I really don’t like the choice of words when Acid_Snake says: “the front page is about wololo and what he likes or dislikes, us guest bloggers simply help him spread his voice”. This is absolutely not true. I have published several times opinion pieces from guest bloggers even when I disagreed with their opinion. Guest bloggers here share some basic principles with me, but they are the sole owners of their opinion. I do review the articles, but unless some parts look like there hasn’t been enough reflection on a given subject, I do not alter them.

            At the end of the day, guest bloggers’ opinion on this site is their opinion and not necessarily mine.

            But then again, I would say this article was not an opinion piece, just a funny approach on the console wars, and I would publish again similar articles.

            I get where mlc is coming from (commenters are also entitled to their opinion, the comment section is here for that), and the only answer I can give about that for now is “avoid the next article in this series next time if you don’t like the idea”

          3. mlc’s avatar

            Don’t worry, I certainly won’t criticize any future articles in this series. I wasn’t trying to insult the article too harshly, but by (stupidly) being unduly rude in the same post I kind of ruined any possibility of it *not* being taken personally. Also, I’m sorry that I let it escalate to the point where you had to come here to put your word in… that was me being too defensive. (maybe one response to Acid_Snake’s response alone, rather than several to every one, would have been smarter on my part)

            Also I didn’t notice initially that this was part of a series, which clearly makes criticism of the premise a lot more harsh given the amount of work he’s clearly put into several pieces. I hope Acid_Snake realizes that I don’t come off looking good here (douche might be the appropriate term), and that he need not take my criticism too hard because I kind of put my foot in my mouth. Sorry again; it’s funny that I initially said “I’m not trolling” as it turned into a troll-y amount of time wasted. =(

    2. TheTokBoks’s avatar

      Certainly not worst article, but definitely the strangest idea. You can’t compare cross gen platforms! Console wars is all about the present because everything is up to date! Something Acid_Snake could have done is compare one failed console versus one that succeeded in the same gen. AKA N64 vs Dreamcast

      Reply

      1. Acid_Snake’s avatar

        Dreamcast was in the 6th gen, not 5th gen.

        Reply

      2. mlc’s avatar

        “Certainly not worst article, but definitely the strangest idea. You can’t compare cross gen platforms!”

        Exactly this! I may as well write an article comparing checkers to Monopoly; it can certainly be done, but there isn’t really any reason for it and you won’t gain any insight from the process.

        Reply

        1. Acid_Snake’s avatar

          anything is comparable if the right categories are chosen, if you are unable to see this then I can clearly see why you fail to understand the post, or even fail to make your own blog posts.

          Reply

          1. mlc’s avatar

            Like I said, you can certainly compare anything. I could write a long essay on just about anything, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be bullshit or trash. A key part of deciding to “professionally” “publish” something should be if it illuminates the subject or has original/important observations. In my opinion this particular topic isn’t so great, which is why I suggested in another comment that it would do better as a forum post than a front page article.

    3. Acid_Snake’s avatar

      Please link me to one of your articles so I can compare them with mine.

      Reply

      1. mlc’s avatar

        It is indeed easier to criticize than to produce, but it is a fallacy to suggest that you must do x to be able to criticize x.

        Reply

        1. Acid_Snake’s avatar

          there is no fallacy in my words, if you have close to no experience with what you criticize then you can’t really criticize it accordingly.

          Reply

          1. mlc’s avatar

            I read and write things. That’s my “experience.” ;P

  6. naishi’s avatar

    “The PS2, the best selling console in history and the one responsible for making videogames a mainstream media in households all over the world, versus the NES, THE CONSOLE THAT SAVED THE GAMING INDUSTRY FROM DISAPPEARING AND SET STANDARD FOR VIDEOGAME QUALITY.”

    Time always change everything, gameplay from the ps2 era and NES maybe different.. but the fun and excitement that it brings to everyone is just the same if you are living in the same time that these consoles are invented. And based on the highlighted statement above… Ps2 owes everything to NES.. cause without NES… they maybe stop innovating and console gaming would have died.

    Reply

    1. Somehting Something Somehting Light Side’s avatar

      actually without the NES, PC gaming would have probably taken off so no consoles holding it back

      Reply

      1. Acid_Snake’s avatar

        I have to disagree, PC gaming wasn’t even a thing when the NES came out, and the general disaster the Atari 2600 made against videogames would have made PC. games nonexistent.

        Reply

  7. Chuckthetekkie’s avatar

    It’s funny that out of the best selling PS2 games, I’ve only played one in the list, Gran Turismo 3. In fact it came with my PS2. As for the best selling NES games, I’ve played the first four. My favorite all time game of any generation is Super Mario Bros. 3 (The GBA version didn’t feel the same).

    The main reason is that is was the ONLY game that both of my parents played with me. One time my mother was pissed that I beat Bowser in SMB3 and I did it with a flower power suit so you couldn’t kill yourself so she could replay the level. We played so much of that game, our NES actually overheated a few times since we had to leave the console on all the time since there was no way to save the game.

    I continue to play SMB3 on my PS Vita as I find it enjoyable. At least I got over my fear of those damn Boo. Anytime I came up to a level with them, I had my dad play that level.

    Reply

  8. jlo138’s avatar

    Nintendo should of just made the SNES backwards compatible with NES Carts instead of that ugly (but HTF) top loader. I grew up with Atari 2600 as my older brother had two. My other brother and I broke the first one he had… So he says. Then NES. I spent tons more hours on my Nintendo than I ever did on my PS2 and that included watching DVDs. I had more fun with my NES but I was a lot younger than when I got my PS2 (which I got for free at a work Christmas party). Lol, awesome day. I already had one and another guy won the Xbox but his controlling wife wouldn’t let him trade me for it. She immediately made it known to everyone that she would be returning it for the money. The husband just listened and kept his head down…

    Reply

  9. ivo’s avatar

    hey, i still would buy a ps2 if i could run linux on it without sideeffects with it being a console
    and backups ofc :)

    where are they still selling old consoles and linuxkits ?
    can it allso run xp ?

    Reply

    1. Acid_Snake’s avatar

      there are some linux live CDs that run on both the fat and slim consoles, I believe it’s call BlackRhino or something like that.

      Reply

  10. ivo’s avatar

    u better check two consoles of the same generation
    … xbox vs ps2 ?

    Reply

    1. Acid_Snake’s avatar

      no point in doing so as we already know who won which generation, aside from the fact that there are thousands of reviews comparing consoles from the same generation

      Reply

  11. Randy Steele’s avatar

    The ps2 has an NES emulator.

    Reply

    1. Acid_Snake’s avatar

      except in some rare occasions that might come later, I try to avoid comparing the consoles using unofficial material (homebrews, hacks, emulators, third-party accessories, etc) as in the end, they weren’t really meant to happen in the first place. Just for clarification, imagine I’m comparing two non-modded, straight out of the box consoles.

      Reply

  12. Adams Myth’s avatar

    Like Star Trek the Original Series and the Next Generation – one can’t simply can’t compare the NES and the PS2. If you’re going to do a similar comparison in the future, then it has to be better than what’s already out there on the internet/game mags – I guess it’s in the right direction but could have been better written. Then again these are volunteer efforts so there’s still merit to this piece of work.

    Reply

  13. john10101’s avatar

    NES By far. Dont get me wrong i loved the ps2 but the NES.. something about it, just keeps drawing me back. I just love all them bits.

    Reply

  14. amanonimous’s avatar

    I don’t think that is nonsense to compare different generations. There are some aspects independent of the technical aspects that I’d like to be compared like:

    - Innovation (ther was new things or just a lot of things copied from the previous generation?)
    - Influence/inspiration (were platformers games different after smb? there was a ton of clones of smb because everybody wanted to make a smb? were driving games different after GT2?)
    - New Legendary IP’s (were new IP’s which now are considered legendary born in that generatin (megaman? kingdom hearts?)

    etc

    Reply

    1. Acid_Snake’s avatar

      interesting, I’ll consider all these points next time I compare the games.

      Reply

  15. The Last Nightmare’s avatar

    You used the fact we play the NES games today, but aren’t the PS2 franchises running just as strong? I’m also not sure why we’re limited to comparing the top sellers. Why not go with more direct comparisons?

    Metal Gear NES (Featuring no Metal Gear, and “I FEEL ASLEEP.”) vs. Metal Gear Solid PS2 (Featuring a cruel meta deconstruction of player agency and a hero swap out.)

    Final Fantasy NES (No storyline, and complete with nonworking elemental damage and status magic) vs. Final Fantasy X. (Tidus and Raiden ought to hang out.)

    Rad Racer (Outrun rip-off) vs. Outrun 2006 (A dramatic improvement over the original Outrun.)

    Godzilla (The king of sprite flicker, and you’re forced to slowly walk into tiny shots that blow you back.) vs. Godzilla.(even the angry videogame nerd was blown away.)

    The problem with the NES library was that once you leave the top classics like Castlevania, Megaman, Ninja Gaiden, and Contra behind, and the hidden gems like Shadow of the Ninja, Felix the Cat, Ultima IV, and Crystalis, the library takes a dramatic nosedive into garbage that would flunk Atari’s infamous quality control. It’s where western games developed a reputation for being trash, over in Japan.

    Compare that to the PS2: every single genre available at the time is represented by more than good game. It was the height of class gaming, and the only generation where critics complained they didn’t have time to play all the awesome games coming out.

    It must win any fair competition between libraries.

    Reply

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