1980 – Missile Command – Atari 2600 – 2.76m
1981 – Pitfall! – Atari 2600 – 4.5m
1982 – PacMan – Atari 2600 – 7.81m
1983 – Mario Bros – Atari 2600 – 1.59m
1984 – Duck Hunt – NES – 28.3m
1985 – Super Mario Bros – NES – 40.24m
1986 – The Legend Of Zelda – NES – 6.5m
1987 – Zelda II – NES – 4.38m
1988 – Super Mario Bros 3 – NES – 17.28m
1989 – TETRIS – GameBoy – 30.6m
1990 – Super Mario World – SNES – 20.6m
1991 – Sonic – Megadrive – 15m
1992 – Super Mario Land 2 – 11.6m
1993 – Super Mario All Stars – SNES – 10.5m
1994 – Donkey Kong Country – SNES – 8.5m
1995 – Super Mario World 2 – SNES – 4m
1996 – Pokemon Red, Green, Blue – GB – 31.3m
1997 – Gran Tursmo – Playstation – 11.15m
1998 – Pokemon “Pikachu Edition” – GB – 23.1m
1999 – Pokemon Gold, Silver – GBC – 23.1m
Released in 1977, the Atari 2600 joystick featured just one button and was only 4 way directional. This joystick became the predominate input device for the system and had a large impact on the development of future console joysticks within the 2nd Generation. It wouldn’t be until 1985 when Nintendo released the two button controller that multiple button pads would be the norm.
The third generation of video games brought some major changes to gamepad design. In 1985 Nintendo launched the NES controller in NA, introducing Nintendo’s patented cross-shaped joypad. The new D-Pad design offered gamers a new and more universal way to play games, and their dominance continued throughout later generations.
Four years later in 1989 the Genesis would be the first major console to bring us 8 way directional input, and additional action buttons so that arcade ports like Golden Axe could be easily replicated for home console use. Later a six button layout would be designed specifically for advance fighting games like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat.
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System featured a controller with a more rounded dog-bone like design than that of the NES and added two more face buttons, “X” and “Y”, arranging the four in a diamond formation. Another addition to the SNES controller was the “L” and “R” shoulder buttons, which have been imitated by most controllers since.
The Nintendo 64 was the first console to be released with a thumbstick. This design revolutionized the gaming industry and would ultimately become the standard control for all future gaming consoles. The new thumbstick allowed for a larger range of motion and control, ideal for 3D environments which Nintendo made popular with games like Mario World and Zelda Ocarina of Time.
The Dreamcast released in 1999 introduced advanced dual trigger buttons, and included a VMU (Vitual Memory Unit) which served both as a memory unit and a virtual screen that displayed animations during gameplay and were able to play minigames when played as standalones. The original Xbox controller that proceeded would adopt many of the Dreamcast’s original designs.
All photos are from Artist Brandon Edgar Allen. His Deconstructed series walks us through each generation of gaming consoles and dissects each design showing us the technological advancements each gamepad provided over its predecessor. To see more video game controller art from this series, head over to his website.
The ColecoVision is Coleco Industries’ second generation home video game console, which was released in August 1982. The ColecoVision offered near-arcade-quality graphics and gaming style along with the means to expand the system’s basic hardware. Released with a catalog of 12 launch titles, with an additional 10 games announced for 1982, approximately 145 titles in total were published as ROM cartridges for the system between 1982 and 1984. River West Brands currently owns the ColecoVision brand name.
Coleco licensed Nintendo’s Donkey Kong as the official pack-in cartridge for all ColecoVision consoles, helping to boost the console’s popularity. By Christmas of 1982, Coleco had sold more than 500,000 units, in part on the strength of its bundled game. The ColecoVision’s main competitor was the arguably more advanced but less commercially successful Atari 5200. Sales quickly passed 1 million in early 1983, before the video game crash of 1983. By the beginning of 1984, quarterly sales of the ColecoVision had dramatically decreased. Things weren’t looking very good for Colecovision and it wouldn’t get any better.
Over the next 18 months, the Coleco company ramped down its video game division, ultimately withdrawing from the video game market by the end of the summer of 1985. The ColecoVision was officially discontinued by October 1985. Despite Coleco’s short run in the video game industry, it’s the retro gaming collectors and homebrew games, that have kept the Colecovision popular to this day.
In 2009, IGN named the ColecoVision their 12th best video game console out of their list of 25, citing “its incredible accuracy in bringing current-generation arcade hits home.”
The Nintendo 64 dropped in September of 1996, and at that time you weren’t sure what to expect. This was Nintendo’s first black colored console and it came with this weird ass grey controller that really didn’t look very cool. What was Nintendo thinking? But if you were coming from a Genesis or Super Nintendo you were ready for something new, and Nintendo most certainly brought their A game when they released what now may be considered one of the most influential consoles in history.
The Box Art is pretty impressive, Mario looked totally different then ever before. A new 3D feel that almost seemed too ahead of its time. Nintendo claimed before launch that the N64 was able to jump two generations in console technology. I will let you determine if that statement is true or not on your own, nonetheless the N64 made further advancements including a four controller input, which was a step up from its predecessor and a revolutionized thumbstick that changed gaming history. The D-Pad was the standard for gaming in the late 80′s, early 90′s, but Nintendo gambled on a new thumbstick control that would allow for a larger range of motion and control, ideal for 3D environments. The gamble paid off and the thumbstick ultimately became the standard for all future gaming controllers.
What would a console be without it’s games? Nintendo hit a Home Run when it released Mario 64 on Launch Day. The game was way ahead of it’s time, and the first to introduce an open world 3D environment. Nintendo’s 3D approach gave the characters more personality, “It’s a me, Mario!” Each new level introduced new challenges that just weren’t present in the previous generation 2D platformers, it was something totally new and completely awesome. The N64 will go down in history as one of the most influential systems ever to be produced, and it’s hard to argue against it.
Fun N64 Facts:
- The last commercial cartridge based console to be produced.
- 1/3rd of all N64 owners bought Super Mario 64.
- Mario 64 was originally planned for SNES using an enhanced SuperFX chip.
Coleco Tabletops launched in 1982, Coleco introduced the tabletop Mini-Arcades. Designed to replicate the true cabinets found at your local Arcade. Coleco was able to produce a number of collectible titles including, Donkey Kong, Pac Man, Zaxxon and Galaxian. Most of the ports weren’t very successful at emulating their Arcade counterparts, Galaxian only had reasonable success. Pac-Man, Galaxian, Donkey Kong, and Frogger, sold approximately three million units within a year and in 1983, they released three more Mini-Arcades: for Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong Junior, and Zaxxon. Originally sold for $59.97 at Toys R Us, they now fetch anywhere from a $100 to $400 on eBay depending on the condition and if comes with the original box. Go grab one of these bad boys before they get chomped up.