The Best-Looking Video Game Consoles Of All Time

The Best-Looking Video Game Consoles Of All Time

You silly fanboys. All these years arguing over things you thought were important, like specs, and libraries, and exclusives, and controllers, wasted. Not once have you considered the most crucial thing about a video game console: How good it looks. Who cares if it's stuck on a shelf, or crammed in an entertainment unit, or that in the dark all you're going to see are its status lights! An ugly console is a terrible console. What really matters is that you want to be able to welcome people into your home, and without even having to explain processing power or memory size have them think, phew, that looks like a tremendously powerful and/or exciting and/or fun piece of kit.

Which is horribly superficial, yes, but this is an entirely superficial list, so let's just run with it.

Over the past four decades, there have been some plain consoles, sometimes even some ugly consoles, but we don't care about them today. Today, we celebrate the best-looking video game consoles (no handhelds) of all time, for whatever the reason.

Images: Evan Amos, Muband & Bill Bertram

SEGA MARK III (1985)

The Best-Looking Video Game Consoles Of All Time

The Sega Mark III was never released in the West, which explains why you might never have seen it. Here, it would be repackaged and sold as the Sega Master System.

It might be my favourite of the bunch. It doesn't even look like a video game console. It looks like what a sci-fi anime from the 80s thought a video game console would look like in the distant future. A console that didn't even play discs, it just shot holograms into the air.

NINTENDO GAMECUBE (2001)

The Best-Looking Video Game Consoles Of All Time

The Nintendo GameCube was a tiny little box that played tiny little discs and had a tiny little handle so that tiny little hands could carry it with them to their friends houses and play the best Mario Kart game there ever was.

ZX SPECTRUM (1982)

The Best-Looking Video Game Consoles Of All Time

Yes, this is technically a computer. But like the C64 below, their platforms were so isolated, and the value of their games so vital to their overall success that fuck it, they have made this list.

Sir Clive Sinclair is a cool guy, whose eye for the future has led him to invent all kinds of weird and amazing machines. His most famous is the ZX Spectrum, which wasn't just an important machine -- it pretty much gave birth to the home computer scene in the UK -- but was very easy on the eyes as well.

The keyboard is great, as is the smartly compact form, but it's the colour scheme that really does it for the Spectrum; that rainbow splash along the side evokes everything from a Daft Punk album cover to old VHS tape art.

SONY PSX (2003)

The Best-Looking Video Game Consoles Of All Time

Of all the pieces of video game hardware Sony have released over the years, few have ended up as forgotten as the PSX. I'm not talking about the abbreviation for the original PlayStation, I'm talking about the system that was actually called the PSX.

Released in 2003, it combined a PlayStation 2 with a digital video recorder, cramming the whole thing inside a sleek, simple box that just screamed "I am a big, important, adult video game machine". It's a design that really gros on you; appearing a slab at first, the longer you look, the more you notice the subtle details, like the tapered flares running down the side of the machine.

A multitude of versions, a high price and the fact it never made it outside Japan doomed the PSX, and it was withdrawn from sale only two years after release.

COMMODORE SX-64 (1984)

The Best-Looking Video Game Consoles Of All Time

The normal Commodore 64 looked pretty good! It wins points for cramming the entire system inside a keyboard. But I prefer the SX-64, the world's first proper portable colour computer system, because it looks so badass.

If someone just sent you this image and didn't tell you what it was, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was some kind of Cold War targeting system for a laser nuclear artillery battery.

PANASONIC 3D0 (1993)

The Best-Looking Video Game Consoles Of All Time

It was a failure of a console. But that's what was so good about the 3DO. Everything about it was captured perfectly by its design. With its "pillars" it looked like a pantheon, an ancient shrine to a non-existent God, a hulking mass of plastic that wanted you to think it was the future, the conquerer, the greatest. Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!

Only it wasn't any of those things. It was a hulking great piece of plastic. And, like Ozymandius, all anyone remembers now is the bluster, not the works.

SEGA DREAMCAST (1998)

The Best-Looking Video Game Consoles Of All Time

If Sega had to go out, it was nice that they went out with this. The Dreamcast doesn't look like other video game consoles. It's not trying to look toy-like, or powerful, or expensive.

It looks like fun. Like a light breeze on a summer's afternoon while you're playing in the park. Like an ice cream cake. Like the Tamagotchi's home planet.

ATARI 2600 (1977)

The Best-Looking Video Game Consoles Of All Time

The 2600 sums up the decade it was designed and manufactured in better than any other console here. The chunky toggles, the orange, the wood panelling. Oh, the wood panelling! It's a wonder it didn't ship with a gold ashtray hanging off the side of it.

NINTENDO SUPER FAMICOM/SUPER NINTENDO (1990)

The Best-Looking Video Game Consoles Of All Time

I'm not a fan of the North American Super Nintendo. It's too...utilitarian. The version released in Europe, Australia and Japan, though, now that's a pretty video game console.

I've always thought the SNES was a lot like the Mazda MX-5. Built in Japan a very long time ago, its restrained use of curves created a design that almost timeless, looking as good today as it did at release. A classic colour scheme (those buttons!) didn't hurt, either.

SONY PLAYSTATION 4

The Best-Looking Video Game Consoles Of All Time

I wanted to include a more contemporary console on the list, but it was tough going! Like blockbuster console gaming itself, console design has become increasingly safe over the years; everything tends to look as "OK" and inoffensive as possible. The days of Nintendo 64s and original Xboxs are over.

I considered the PS2 Slim and the Wii, but ultimately went for the PS4. It looked pretty non-descript when first revealed, but the longer it's sat on my shelf, the more I've grown to love it. With its angular design and all-black surface, some days it looks like a shark breaking the surface of the water, other days like I've got a model of the Tyrell Corporation offices sitting on my entertainment unit.


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Comments

    What about the Atari Jag how it converted to a toilet when you added the CD unit?

      Atari sold the design to a dental company and you might see it at your dentist as a camera equipment.

    I had a Speccy, but it was the ugliest thing ever.
    The Atari 400 and 800 though, man they were cool. They were styled as if they were part of the console from the Millenium Falcon, had four joystick ports, and the best box art for games, bar none.

    As far as actual consoles go, you guys aren't even trying, what about the Binatone?
    http://www.tvfilmprops.co.uk/userdata/PRODPIC-229.jpg

    The Ping-o-tronic:
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8a/Zanussi_-_Ping-o-tronic.jpg

    The futuristic TVG-10
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6f/20110416_Ameprod_TVG-10_8219.jpg

    and the vectrex?
    http://www.wiretotheear.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Vectrex.jpeg

    Last edited 08/09/15 2:10 pm

    I love the look of the black Wii. I wish that was available at launch. The black Wii U is pretty neat too though, but mine is really badly scratched from carrying it around without real protection. I feel bad about it.

      You need to make sure you always have protection.

    I love the look of the Xbox One. I'm actually not joking.
    It is a huge beast that looks like a VCR from the 80's.
    It sits proudly next to my TV.

    I always dug the original PS3 for some reason. I'll also give points to the GameCube as well - really quirky, little funny looking console. Never owned one or even really played one, but liked the idea.

      I always couldn't help but think of a George Forman Grill whenever I saw the old Original PS3 and man it was a fingerprint magnet.

      I agree I really am a sucker for the PS3 fat.
      To the point I've contemplated buying an empty PS3-fat shell and modding my ps3-slim internals into it.

      Yep original PS3 is my pick of the bunch by a mile. that curved top black grand piano finish oozed class and sophistication and parked on the cabinet next to my slim PS2 and Xbox 360, it looked like something much more important and expensive than the video game boxes next to it.

      Agree with @adamantium_nz though, loved a fingerprint, dog hair and dust particles.

    No handhelds? Bollocks to that. PS Vita all the way, baby!

    But yeah, the Atari 2600 just has something... classic about it. PS4 for the minimalist look.

      If we are going handhelds, then that opens the door for those glorious VFD machines.
      http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-u7CarzfoAtg/T-j6lRI8cSI/AAAAAAAAH34/TEeV_75fE_Q/s1600/Japanese%2BPuck%2BMan%2B.JPG

        Oh boy, still got great memories of some of those, like Submarine Battle. http://www.handheldmuseum.com/Casio/Casio-SubmarineBattle.jpg I rocked that game so hard back in the day. No-one else could get close to me (the benefit of playing it during long car trips).

      That was the atari model I had growing up.
      Matched perfectly with our massive old CRT TV that was all decked out in the same wood paneling!

      They also made a slim model, all in black that wasn't any near as good looking.

      Vita is pretty nice looking. Slim, not as much - if only because of lack of OLED and that nice one piece front the original Vita had.

    I to love the look of the X1 especially as it fits in nice with my pioneer receiver as that's a big black box too along with the speakers.

    one thing though straying away from looks is durability I think back when I was growing up and id be constantly chucking my master system mega drive then n64 into my school bag and taking it around to mates houses I really don't think modern consoles could handle that kind of treatment the old consoles were pretty ugly but man they were pretty bullet proof.

    Wait people liked the look of the gamecube? To me it looks like every nerd console related sterotype rolled into one. I'd be embarrassed to have that sitting on my entertainment unit.

      It had a frigging carry handle. It was the bomb :)

      I've been hit in the head with a Gamecube.

      Well, to be honest I hit myself in the head with my Gamecube.

      Swinging it around by the handle because bored and stupid 12 year old and mistimed a step as well as underestimated the weight. Smashed it into my forehead. Knocked me the fuck down.

      Anywho, my point is, Looks aside, The Gamecube will mess you up.

      You realise that the GameCub came out in 2001 and the 'nerd console related sterotype' you're talking about most likely are just using the GameCube design or at least a modified version of it.

    No Nintendo 64? That was an awesome looking thing - my iPhone probably has more power now than it, but still.... the curves!

      Was going to post this separately but meh,

      NINTENDO SIXTYFOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUR!!!

    I always thought PC Engine was cool looking. And I couldn't figure out how it had so much power in such a small volume.

    I always loved the Master System 2. That cool sliding lid was the bomb.

    Neo Geo CD is sexy.

    Oh and a Mega Drive 1 + Mega Cd 1 Combo. Looked Sci-Fi as fuck.

    Last edited 08/09/15 3:10 pm

      Mega Drive 2 + Mega CD + 32X, that was the shit

      But to be fair my fave has to be the dreamcast

    I had a commodore sx for a while. It was awesome, and weighed a freaking tonne.

      I can't believe that they implied that the C64 actually looked good, in ANY incarnation.

      The C128 was the first Commodore machine that looked any sort of halfway decent. The SX64 looked like every other luggable on the market at the time, all designed to look like the Osborne boxes which started the trend.

      The whole keyboard-cpu-and-tape-drive-in-one-unit didn't do the 8-bit market any favours on looks.

    Purple handbag for life.

    Utilitarian, compact, great colours... The Gamecube was amazing looking. It also has the honour of having the best controller in the existence of ever attached to it. GCN and Dreamcast are neck and neck for best looking consoles.

    It's sad because I can truly say that I've owned all of those consoles pictured :(
    I'm old as ****!! :(

    I always liked the redesigned NES with the dogbone controllers. Simple yet sleek.

    Last edited 08/09/15 4:46 pm

    Original Ps2 standing vertically, still looks good now. Classy as.

    Virtual boy!

    I think the designers of the XBone nailed it when they sat down and said we need something like an 80's top loading VHS machine but bigger and more boring.

    "OHHHH, have we got a video?!"

      "If anyone else asks me that question, I'm going to stick their head though the window"

    I loved my Intellivision. It even had a section to store the controllers in. Ah the memories.

    I love the PS4, it fits in beautifully with my TV. Looks great, is nice and thin and doesn't suck too much power...not that has anything to do with looks, but it's amazing how far consoles have come, no more need for big power blocks.

      no more need for big power blocks.
      It seems you haven't encountered the XBox One...

      Saying that the external power supply on the XBone is the size of an actual brick would be exaggerating, but it's not exaggerating all that much.

        Oh really? I didn't realise they still used the brick. Well there you go.

    I love the description of the Dreamcast, it does look like a fun console. And it was!

    Yeah I've been saying that about the Dreamcast forever. Perfectly symmetrical, small footprint, completely original swirly shape logo...

    Burgundy Nintendo DSi XL

    followed by

    *New* 3DS with SNES button layout

    Last edited 08/09/15 10:37 pm

    I don't have any nostalgia goggles (never had a console apart from a partially broken PS1 I found in a kerb-side collection) and I'm not sure that many of these consoles looked good so much as distinctive. Don't get me wrong, I like the look of a lot of the older consoles, but by my personal qualifications for good design leans much more towards modern or minimalist design.

    Amongst this list the qualifiers are the Sony PSX and PS4, the Panasonic 3D0 and the Atari 2600. For me the PS4 is the best looking console ever made, closely followed by the Wii (blue accent lighting on an all white body, very nice; even to me as someone who doesn't like white in electronics). Honourable mentions go to the PS2 slim and the PSP and DS lite for the handhelds (as much as I've always wanted a lime/ kiwi green Gameboy colour it's not exactly good or subtle design) The NES comes close as well.

    A couple of consoles/ hand helds with bad design (by a mixture of modern, minimalist and personal standards) that I really like include the aforementioned Kiwi green Gameboy colour, the SNES, XBOX, XBOX 360 and the see-through Gameboy advance. Any way, that's a good deal more than my 2 cents on the issue, I should stop now.

    From memory, did the PSX have a major flaw where the controller ports were at the back of the unit?

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