Wednesday, September 12, 2012

KGB Top 5 Console Makeovers

Everybody remembers their first. Perhaps you have fond memories of the NES, that little gray box that was a magical portal into whole new worlds. Or maybe you came of age in the era of the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Whatever the case, before the Internet, chances are you went through childhood completely unaware of the many variations classic consoles went through over their lifespan. We here at KGB picked out Top 5 favorite console redesigns, please to enjoy!

5. PSP-2000

When the PSP originally launched in early 2005, it had a lot going for it: the handheld was sleek, sexy, and stylish. It was an absolute graphics powerhouse. And it had that beautiful, gorgeous screen. Somewhat anemic launch library notwithstanding, there was a lot that Sony's first handheld did right.  What really took the system from good to great, however, was the redesign that came in September 2007. Dubbed the PSP "Slim and Lite", the PSP-2000 was an excellent example of how to give a handheld an amazing facelift. More battery efficient, 33% lighter and 19% thinner, the PSP-2000 was really the version that should have come out first. Couple that with the fact that Sony was putting out some truly fantastic special edition versions of the system, and it's not hard to see why this truly was the best version of the PSP. Sadly, this was the best the handheld would ever be.

Aw yeah! Boner achieved.

Not content to leave well enough alone, Sony produced the PSP-3000, which was very much the same as the 2000, with one major difference: the screen had been slightly re-worked to produce deeper, more rich colors and reduce pixel response time. The problem? The screen also suffered a huge interlacing issue that caused horizontal lines to appear, an affliction that affected many games. Sony's response was to do...nothing. And let's not forget the abomination that was the PSP Go, a smaller, cramped slider device that couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a handheld game system or a stylish media device. The worst part? The PSP Go didn't have a UMD drive in it, so anyone who had already built up a library of PSP games before buying the Go was left up shit creek, unable to play games they had paid good money for.

Oh god dammit...

4. Game Boy Advance SP

Well, truth be told, I (Chris) have never owned a Game Boy. Or a Game Boy Advance, for that matter. But the Game Boy Advance is owed special recognition. You see, for the past 10 years, the GBA has influenced the way you play Nintendo handhelds. The original design of the GBA had a very similar design to the PSP: a horizontal unit with no moving parts. The SP, though, is a radical departure from that. Looking more like its successor, the DS, the GBA SP was the first to feature the clamshell form factor. In addition, the SP added a much-needed backlight, which was sorely lacking on the original GBA. Also, it played Pokemon. So there's that.

3. Sega Genesis

I want you to do me a favor. You ready? Okay, now close your eyes. They closed? Now, slowly, take your pants off--

Oh, what?

I want you to think about the Sega Genesis. Maybe it's the one you had as a kid, or maybe it's the one the cool kid next door got for Christmas, because his parents separated when he was younger, and his dad has that high paying job downtown, meanwhile his poor mother has to work two jobs just to make ends meet, and she knew he was fucking that trashy housekeeper the whole time, that lazy sack of shit--

Ahhh, childhood.

Ok, so: what does the Genesis look like? Is it all black, like a stealth bomber of blast processing? Perhaps there's a Sega CD saddled up next to it, ready to deliver some Sewer Shark your way. Oh, what's that on top? A 32x? Man, that kid next door sure is lucky! But guess what? That sleek Genesis you know and love is not the original. It's actually the second console to bear the Genesis name. Just like the time on Roseanne when Becky was played by the hot blonde from Scrubs.

THIS is the one true Sega Genesis.

The original Genesis is actually kind of weird when you look at it now. Sporting a baffling Volume slider on the top, and a now-comical exclamation of "HIGH DEFINITION GRAPHICS" near the cartirdge port, the OG Genesis was phased out of production in 1993, in order to make way for the Genesis version 2. Which is the one I owned, therefore it's the best version.

2. Nintendo Entertainment System Top-Loader

During the height of the SNES’ reign (nostalgically, my favorite console) even the trend-setting NES was redesigned to match the tastes of the new era. Even though I was knee-deep into being a SNES fanboy by that time, I wanted the redesigned NES, referred to colloquially as the NES 2, because it made something old look new and exciting.

Taking its cues from the SNES, it featured a top-loading system for the cartridges; a design that can be best described as non-euclidean; and SNES-styled, ergonomic controllers (with only two buttons despite the prevalence of “turbo” buttons found on the NES Max and the NES Advantage). It looked great, almost to the point where I felt that, for some reason, I would have believed it made all NES games suddenly look 16-bit. It just oozed “better” in every way, and it was cheap, costing under $100. However, good games kept coming out for the SNES, then the Playstation came out (at which point they even made a SNES 2) and I decided to keep moving forward with the trends, so I never felt like I had the time to go back at the NES, no matter how sexy they tried to make it seem. I wish I had one now, because, unlike my original NES, it’d probably still work.

1. Xbox 360 S

The redesign of the Xbox 360 is deserving of the number one spot for one reason: it solved a major hardware defect of the original. While other consoles become lighter, slimmer, and more streamlined for more cosmetic reasons, the 360's sleek new look featured some major changes for the internal structure of the system. As angry fanboys everywhere know, the original architecture of the Xbox 360 was prone to overheating, eventually leading to the dreaded "Red Ring of Death."

When launched in August of 2010, the 360 S brought with it the promise of gamers never again having to see those three red lights. In addition to this good news, the new "slim" 360 also added internal Wi-Fi capabilities for the first time, and added some futuristic capacitor buttons on the console itself. When combined with the new glossy black finish, the new generation of Xbox looks very familiar. In fact, it looks almost exactly like the early PlayStation 3. Derp.

BONUS: The Nintendo Play Station

A myth. Never happened. 

Oh, did you guys want to play this?

This was a KGB group effort. Well, except for Pat. He couldn't be bothered.

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