Photo of Mark Lautenschlager

Mark Lautenschlager

Professional Video Game Expert

Best Nintendo Video Game & Best PlayStation Video Games

Featured On:

  • Computer America
  • Radio Shack
When it comes to judging video game systems, the criteria are subjective. One player might value the highest possible quality in graphics and sound, while another values the ability to connect with other players over the Internet. With each ranking, I have explained my reasons for the selection. From this, you should be able to decide which might appeal most to you.

I have also included the PC in my list of the Best of the Best, which might dismay console fans. However, I believe that the computer game segment of the video game market has many titles that have proven unique in depth of game play, and replay potential. The true value of ANY of these choices is in the games themselves. Knowing what type of game you like, or having a specific game you want to play, narrows down your choices considerably.

One thing is for certain, when it comes to video game systems, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Choose the best Nintendo video game systems and PlayStations when you want hours of fun at home. Always the best price, these best play station video games and other video game systems are compared for the best deals.

Best Video Game Systems by Mark Lautenschlager

The Best You Can Get

  • PlayStation 3

    Mark says: Sony’s PlayStation 3, or PS3, muscles its way to the top of our list of the Best of the Best Video Game Systems by virtue of its advanced hardware making it the most sophisticated and complete entertainment device you can buy. The PS3 entered the market to a lukewarm reception at about the same time as Nintendo’s Wii and was initially criticized for choosing components like Blu-Ray that would prove hard to get and become a bottleneck to meeting demand, and for its high price at launch. Since that time, however, Blu-Ray components are plentiful, the Blu-Ray high-definition DVD format seems to be winning the content war, and Sony has cut the price.

    The PS3 comes in three different configurations: 40GB, 60GB, and 80GB. The 40GB model is lowest in price, but lacks PS2 compatibility of any kind, the 60GB model sold in North America includes PS2 compatibility at the hardware level, and the 80GB model supports PS2 compatibility through software (as do 60GB models that are sold internationally). All PS3 consoles support high quality Dolby Digital audio output and video resolutions up to 1080p, supporting composite, component, and HDMI connectors.

    Although the PS3 lacked the number of major game titles you would expect at launch time, this is no longer the case, with a steady stream of games designed for the console being released every month. PS3 games are perhaps the most demanding of any designed for a console, demonstrating its considerable graphics and processing power. While Sony’s PlayStation Network can’t compete with Xbox Live, the PS3 simply outmuscles the Xbox 360 as a console. It’s not just a matter of video resolution, as both consoles support the same level of high-definition output, but it’s also how the graphics move. Complex, lifelike animation is the standard for a PS3 game title, so good that you often forget you’re looking at computer-generated graphics.

    Add to that the PS3 being able to play both standard and Blu-Ray high-definition DVD movies, and you have found the video game system that deserves to be the centerpiece of any cutting edge home entertainment system.

    • Advanced design produces the most lifelike graphics of any console
    • High-definition output supported, standard Blu-Ray drive supports high-definition DVD playback
  • Xbox 360

    Mark says: Number two on the Best list goes to Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which was the first of what I consider the third-generation of modern consoles. (Some call them seventh generation, referring back to the first consoles ever created. Others, like me, see a modern era beginning when Sony, and later Microsoft, started competing with Nintendo.) The Xbox 360 was released nearly a full year before Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s PlayStation 3, which in terms of game development was a huge head start. The Xbox 360 is compatible with most original Xbox games, although this backwards compatibility requires the console to be equipped with its optional hard drive.

    The Xbox 360 comes in three flavors: Core, Premium, and Elite. The Core system is the basic game console, Premium adds a 20GB hard drive, some chrome, and wireless controllers, and the Elite model includes built-in wireless networking, an HDMI port for connecting to your high-definition TV, and expands hard drive storage to 120GB. Both the Premium and Elite versions can play standard DVD movies, and an available external drive adds HD DVD high-definition movie playback. All Xbox 360s support Dolby 5.1 sound output and, after a software update in the fall of 2006, video resolution of up to 1080p. Windows Media Center will detect and support Xbox 360 consoles as media extenders, which allow you to stream content from your PC to your entertainment system through the game console.

    The strongest draw of the Xbox 360 might be the online gaming network, Xbox Live. All Xbox 360 games are Xbox Live enabled, although in some cases this only means the game receives updates over the Xbox Live system, not that it supports online multiplayer mode. Xbox Live allows subscribers to message each other and voice chat over the same connection. A player matching system ranks your skill as you win and lose games, automatically finding competition of comparable skill. Xbox Live Marketplace offers downloadable game titles, optional expanded content for retail titles, and a variety of media content. Although other video game consoles have online capabilities, nothing approaches the level of development and functionality you’ll find with Xbox Live.

    If online multiplayer game play is your favorite thing, or if an Xbox 360 exclusive title like Halo 3 is your favorite game, then you would no doubt rank this console as your choice for number one on the list. Given circumstances like that, I would not argue with you. However, my task is to evaluate the consoles based upon how well they fulfill their primary role, which is to play video games. The first word in video games is video, and when it comes to the most jaw-dropping graphics you can get from a game console, you have to give the nod to my number one pick.

    • First third generation console to market means a huge library of available games
    • High-definition graphics support, DVD movie playback standard
    • Most robust online gaming among the consoles
  • Nintendo Wii

    Mark says: Landing at number three on my Best of the Best list, Nintendo’s Wii (pronounced “wee”) video game console has been enthusiastically received by consumers and game developers. The Wii replaces the GameCube in Nintendo’s lineup, and is backwards compatible with GameCube titles. The physical unit is much smaller than either the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, but it lacks the ability to play DVD movies, so you could not replace your existing DVD player with this console.

    The Wii is modestly powered, but also modestly priced, with competing consoles costing approximately $100 more. Its high-definition video output is 480p, so if you are including your game console in any home theater plans you should take that into consideration. In practice, however, Wii graphics are very good and you often forget they are lower resolution than other third generation consoles. Of course, only those with high-definition displays will be affected at all.

    What is most unique about the Wii is its controller, which Nintendo calls the Wiimote. It is shaped more like a TV remote than a regular video game console remote, and is completely motion sensitive. The Wii console knows where you are holding the controller at all times, sensing in which direction and how fast you are moving it. This has led to game titles being designed for the Wii that involve physical gestures and plenty of movement. Nintendo refers to the Wii as the video game console that gets you OFF the couch, and is developing games designed to promote wellness in young gamers. The controller will snap into accessories that provide the standard trigger style console controller, when games require that. Online support comes standard with the Wii, although at this writing it appears to be more about delivering entertainment and information, or selling downloadable games, than supporting multiplayer gaming.

    • Unique controller design promotes active game play
    • High-definition graphics (barely), support for DVD playback requires additional hardware
    • Modestly priced when compared with other current generation consoles
  • PC

    Mark says: Number four on my list is the PC you already have, which just might be the gaming system you’ve always wanted. Most modern PCs, sold in the last two or three years, have all the power needed to play sophisticated games. What many of them lack is a powerful enough video card and sufficient RAM (Random Access Memory). In most cases, video cards can be easily replaced and upgraded, and in all cases adding more RAM is a simple task. While it is true that state of the art, top of the line gaming computers cost thousands of dollars and feature quad core processors and dual linked video cards, it is also true that the vast majority of computer games don’t require that level of hardware. Spending $5,000 on a gaming PC might make you king or queen of the benchmarks, but it is not required for an enjoyable gaming experience.

    Computer games, as a segment of the video game industry, offer a depth of play and replay that is unique to the PC. Online games in particular are well suited to the PC platform. The world’s most popular online game, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, has over nine million subscribers and has become a cultural phenomenon that extends beyond video games into mainstream culture. Also, most professional gamers train and compete on PCs.

    One huge drawback, however, to using your PC as a gaming system is the work involved in staying up to date. Video game consoles are fixed units; their hardware and software capabilities are etched in stone (well, burned in silicon anyway). Video game developers know exactly what they will find, and it is up to them to make certain their games will play on your console. With PCs, new generations of video games might demand even faster video cards, or more memory. Because PCs also differ from one to the next, computer game developers publish minimum and recommended specs for their titles, and it is up to you to assure that your PC meets these. Keeping your software current is also a burden, with video card manufacturers releasing new drivers on a regular and frequent basis. If you do not enjoy tinkering under the hood on your PC, you might find it safer to stick with consoles.

    • Unique computer games offer unmatched depth and replay
    • Wide variance in hardware can be confusing
    • Keeping software up to date can be problematic
  • PlayStation 2

    Mark says: At number five is Sony’s PlayStation 2. The PS2, as it is known, dominated the video game console business for years, selling more and faster than any other platform. More than 600 game titles are known for the PS2, and its massive installed base of more than 120 million consoles assures that new games will continue to be produced for the PS2 for many years to come.

    Although its graphics might seem crude by today’s standards, the PS2 is capable of video resolutions up to 1280 x 1024 and has Dolby 5.1 sound output. The PS2 is also backwards compatible with original PlayStation games, and in November of 2007, Sony introduced yet another revision to the PS2 that is smaller and lighter in weight, incorporating the AC adapter into the unit itself (eliminating the hated power brick).

    • Best-selling video game console in history, with the largest selection of games
    • Games are distributed on PlayStation CD-ROM, but PS2s will also play standard DVD movies

You will be happy with any of these

  • Nintendo Wii

    Mark says: Jumping to the top spot on my Best Value list is Nintendo’s Wii (pronounced “wee”) console. The enthusiastic reception of the Wii has translated into excellent sales, and that in turn means plenty of games now, and for the future. The Wii replaces the GameCube in Nintendo’s lineup, and is backwards compatible with GameCube titles. The physical unit is much smaller than either the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, but it lacks the ability to play DVD movies, so you could not replace your existing DVD player with this console.

    The reason that I have the Wii jumping up two slots from its position on the Best of the Best list to claim the top spot on the Best Value list has less to do with the console itself, and more to do with who will use it (although the fact that the Wii is priced well below consoles from Sony and Microsoft certainly doesn’t hurt its value rating). It’s unique blend of active, movement-based control system and games like Wii Sports, which are immediately fun with no learning curve, results in a video game system that the entire family will use. Mom and Dad will jump in and play tennis with the kids, Grandpa will warm up to some friendly bowling competition, and who DOESN’T want to see Uncle Fred’s imaginary golf swing with only a Wiimote clutched in his hands? Nintendo hasn’t made just a video console for the rest of us; they’ve made a video game system for ALL of us, and it deserves the top spot on my Best Value list.

    • Unique controller design promotes active game play
    • High-definition graphics (barely), support for DVD playback requires additional hardware
    • Modestly priced when compared with other current generation consoles
  • Xbox 360

    Mark says: Claiming the second spot on my Best Value list, as it did on my Best of the Best list, I have Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console. As previously noted, the Xbox 360 was released a year before the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii consoles, resulting in a very long list of available games.

    The Xbox 360 comes in three flavors: Core, Premium, and Elite. The Core system is the basic game console, Premium adds a 20GB hard drive, some chrome, and wireless controllers, and the Elite model includes built-in wireless networking, an HDMI port for connecting to your high-definition TV, and expands hard drive storage to 120GB. Both the Premium and Elite versions can play standard DVD movies, and an available external drive adds HD DVD high-definition movie playback. All Xbox 360s support Dolby 5.1 sound output and, after a software update in the fall of 2006, video resolution of up to 1080p. Windows Media Center will detect and support Xbox 360 consoles as media extenders, which allow you to stream content from your PC to your entertainment system through the game console.

    The greatest value of the Xbox 360 just might be the online gaming network, Xbox Live. All Xbox 360 games are Xbox Live enabled, although in some cases this only means the game receives updates over the Xbox Live system, not that it supports online multiplayer mode. Xbox Live allows subscribers to message each other and voice chat over the same connection. A player matching system ranks your skill as you win and lose games, automatically finding competition of comparable skill. Xbox Live Marketplace offers downloadable game titles, optional expanded content for retail titles, and a variety of media content. Although other video game consoles have online capabilities, nothing approaches the level of development and functionality you’ll find with Xbox Live.

    It is precisely this online gaming network that enables the Xbox 360 to nail down the same spot in both the Best and Best Value lists. Gamers will find hours of enjoyable competition over Xbox Live, and this magnifies the value of the console as much as the quality of the games themselves. Combine that with its high-definition output, available HD DVD drive, and reasonable price and you have a remarkable console that is as good a value as it is a console.

    • First third generation console to market means a huge library of available games
    • High-definition graphics support, DVD movie playback standard
    • Most robust online gaming among the consoles
  • PlayStation 2

    Mark says: Moving up two positions from its spot on the Best of the Best list, number three goes to Sony’s PlayStation 2. The PS2 dominated the video game console business for years, selling more and faster than any other platform. More than 600 game titles are known for the PS2, and its massive installed base of more than 120 million consoles assures that new games will continue to be produced for the PS2 for many years to come.

    The PS2 ranks higher on the Best Value list than it does on the Best list because it is available for extremely reasonable prices, has that huge library of games to choose from, and can serve as your DVD player (albeit not high-definition), if you are cramped for space in your living room.

    • Best-selling video game console in history, with the largest selection of games
    • Games are distributed on PlayStation CD-ROM, but PS2s will also play standard DVD movies
  • Nintendo GameCube

    Mark says: Number four on the Best Value list goes to Nintendo’s GameCube, which is the predecessor to their Wii console, and despite being a discontinued product is still widely available. Even when the last new consoles are sold, you should have no trouble at all finding one on the used market. The GameCube did not offer high-definition graphics, or Dolby 5.1 sound, but it did offer reliable operation and solid game play. Games for the GameCube were more family friendly and kid-safe than the first person shooters popular on the XBOX, or controversial titles like Grand Theft Auto on the PlayStation 2.

    In light of its discontinued status, the price on available GameCubes continues to fall. When you compare the $50 to $70 dollars you would spend on a GameCube to the $599 for a 60GB PS3, the value should be clearly apparent. You get a console for just about what you’d pay for a single game sold for one of today’s popular platforms. At this time, games and accessories for the GameCube are still available, but it is unlikely this will always be the case, or that many new games will be developed for it. I would advise buying your GameCube with all of the controllers, memory cards, and game titles you might want, right from the start.

    Where I see the greatest value for a GameCube is as a first console for younger children. It is extremely rugged, simple to operate, does not represent a big cash investment, and has a library of games that are appropriate for your third or fourth grader.

    • Compact design, small footprint, with low power consumption and no heat dissipation problems
    • Large library of games, generally considered to be family friendly titles aimed at a younger player
  • PlayStation 3

    Mark says: Sony’s PlayStation 3, or PS3, after muscling its way to the top of my list of the Five Best Video Game Systems, sinks to the bottom of my Best Value list. I gave some thought to removing it from the Best Value list completely because of its high price tag, but I could not ignore the sheer power of its hardware.

    The PS3 comes in three different configurations: 40GB, 60GB, and 80GB. The 40GB model is lowest in price, but lacks PS2 compatibility of any kind, the 60GB model sold in North America includes PS2 compatibility at the hardware level, and the 80GB model supports PS2 compatibility through software (as do 60GB models that are sold internationally). All PS3 consoles support high quality Dolby Digital audio output and video resolutions up to 1080p, supporting composite, component, and HDMI connectors.

    In addition to assigning the PS3 a spot on the Best Value list because of its supercomputer-like power enabling video games to play with incredible graphics, I also must recommend it as the most cost effective way to add a Blu-Ray high-definition DVD player to your home. While there are stand alone Blu-Ray players available for about the same price as the PS3, they are no less expensive. Getting the world’s most powerful video game console thrown in essentially for free with the price of my high-definition DVD player demands a spot on the Best Value list.

    • Advanced design produces the most lifelike graphics of any console
    • High-definition output supported, standard Blu-Ray drive supports high-definition DVD playback

Related Articles

For the best Nintendo video game or Playstation, turn to our experts who walk you through the features that matter most. Whether the best PlayStation video games, Nintendo or other game system, the best features are always in the eye of the beholder. Always the best price, our best video game selections mean hours and hours of family fun.