There are many ways to evaluate the quality of a video game console. One could consider its technical specifications, its game library, its physical design, and so on. But there is only one criterion that truly matters: how much pleasure it brings to speak its name. Move over Super Nintendo, PlayStation, and Sega Genesis — these are the best video game consoles of all time.
Bandai named its scrappy little handheld after the swan for its elegance and power, qualities it hoped would give it an edge over Nintendo’s dominant Game Boy Advance. While it ultimately lost out to the handheld giant, nobody can deny that “WonderSwan” is one of the most evocative names ever given to a piece of consumer electronics.
9. VTech Socrates
The VTech Socrates is the only game console I can think of named after an Ancient Greek philosopher. Appropriately, it’s a platform for educational games, with software designed to teach young children the basics of spelling and math. My rich friend had one growing up, and its talking Johnny Five-esque robot mascot absolutely terrified me — so all the VTech Socrates taught me was fear.
8. Fairchild Channel F
The first home video game console to use cartridges, the Fairchild Channel F is an important milestone in the history of gaming. It’s short for “Channel Fun,” which is the most charming thing I’ve ever heard.
7. Neo Geo Pocket Color
Try saying “Neo Geo Pocket Color” aloud. Notice the rhythm, the way your tongue bounces off each syllable. Realize how it can be read as four iambic feet, four heartbeats. Let your voice ring with the pronouncement of the glory of the Neo Geo Pocket Color.
6. Bally Astrocade
A short-lived entry into the home video games market by Midway, which was at the time the games division of pinball and slot machine manufacturer Bally, the Astrocade didn’t make much of an impact. But boy, is “Astrocade” a great name. Speaking of wonderful names, the Astrocade’s video display chip was developed by Dave Nutting Associates.
More Like This:
- The 17 Best Holes in Video Games
- Before ‘Tetris Effect,’ There Was the Vaporwave Bliss of Tetris on the CD-i
- 10 Unbelievable Knock-off Nintendos
5. Casio Loopy
Marketed as a game console for girls, the Casio Loopy sounds more like a keyboard than a game system. The “oo” sound is simply delightful here, perfectly matching the console’s vibrant aesthetic. It even had its own thermal printer that let players adorn and print out screenshots from games as stickers.
4. Tapwave Zodiac
The newest console on this list, the Tapwave Zodiac was released in 2003 and was something of a novelty at the time, being a relatively high-powered touch-based multi-purpose portable gaming device. Sandwiched between the Nintendo DS and the PlayStation Portable, it couldn’t find much of a market share and Tapwave ultimately sold the company in 2005. It might not have been a match for those more successful portables, but doesn’t have a much more fun name?
3. Magnavox Odyssey
The very first home commercial game console, the Magnavox Odyssey’s name promised consumers an epic Homerian journey into the new world of electronic entertainment. What they got was a device capable of generating three discrete glowing dots, whose color could be modified with plastic overlays to be placed on the screen. It may not have been much, but it was the start of something. And all those vowels, plus the contrast between the high tech-sounding “Magnavox” and the Classical “Odyssey” make the Magnavox Odyssey a game console name for the ages.
2. Mega Duck/Cougar Boy
It would have been enough had it been called the Mega Duck. It would have been enough had it been called the Cougar Boy. But this handheld developed by Hong Kong-based Welback Holdings in 1993 was known by both names in various parts of the world, and that alone is evidence of a loving God.
1. FM Towns Marty
The FM Towns Marty sounds like the name of a radio station you would hear in a dream. There was a version made for automobiles called the FM Towns Car Marty. The “FM” stands for Fujitsu Micro, while “Towns” refers to the console’s development code name “Townes,” after the 1964 Nobel Prize winner Charles Townes. I don’t know how “Marty” got into the mix, but saying “FM Towns Marty” brings me such joy that I don’t even care. FM Towns Marty.