Cross Generation Console Wars, Part 1: PS2 vs NES

September 8, 2013

The PS2, the best selling console in history and the one responsible for making videogames a mainstream media in households all over the world, versus the NES, the console that saved the gaming industry from disappearing and set a standard for videogame quality. Who would win in a console war?

To make this a fair fight, graphics and power are not taken into consideration in this war, only games, gameplay, market share, controllers, design and users’ opinions.


The mayor selling point for every console out there ends up being the games. While the ideal console should have an equal amount of games per genre, it is often found that consoles tend to go with one genre over the others. This is specially true for the NES and most Nintendo consoles, where platformers and other non-violent games tend to become the norm, this of course doesn’t mean you can’t find a shooter for the NES, Contra is one of the best shooters ever and was very popular, still it didn’t even make it to the Top 6 best selling games. For the PS2 on the other hand, there is a tendency to go with racing games and action. Here is the list of the Top 6 best selling games of each console:

Best selling NES games:
– Super Mario Bros
– Super Mario Bros 3
– Super Mario Bros 2
– The legend of Zelda
– Tetris
– Dr Mario

Best selling PS2 games:
– GTA San Andreas
– Grand Turismo 3
– Grand Turismo 4
– GTA Vice City
– GTA 3
– Metal Gear Solid 2

If I had to choose I’d go for the PS2 because it has MGS2 and Vice City there, but leaving my opinion aside, seeing how well most NES franchises have done to the point where we still play them today I will pick the NES as a winner.

Winner: the NES

Games like these still live on in spirit in today’s generations

While good quality games is a must, being able to enjoy playing your games is crutial. The simplistic design of the NES controller was either very good for some games, or very frustrating for others. On the other hand, being more technologically advanced, the PS2 controller allow for more precise actions and more freedom in-game.
I know it’s a bit off to compare two controllers that are so far apart in time, but this comparison may become more clear with upcoming Cross Generation Console Wars.

Winner: the PS2

Being more technologically advanced, the DualShock 2 far surpasses the minimalistic design of the NES controller.

This one is tough. The NES came out in a time where videogames where going extinct due to the videogame crash that the Atari 2600 caused. People thought videogames was a fading fad until Nintendo entered the business for good and changed all of this.
The Big N set a few standards for videogame quality to prevent shovelware titles, one of the causes of the crash. This lead to the NES becoming the one and only console in the market with a 90% market share, leaving the Sega MasterSystem lack behind, a lot.
On the other hand, the PS2, while having only 60% of the market share, it was able to outsell every console ever created and it still is the top selling console in history, aside from being the only console to compete in 2 generations for over a decade.

To sum up: the NES had a bigger market share, but it quickly dropped in the generation that succeed it, while the PS2 managed to stay strong for 2 consecutinve generations, and PS2 games are still sold today. With this said, I believe both consoles are tied here.

Winner: None, both are tied.

The design of a console is a very important selling point. Nobody wants an ugly-looking console, nor a console that easily breaks. This said, lets take a look at what both consoles have to offer.

The NES on one side was design to look like a VCR. Nintendo didn’t want people to call the system a “videogame system”, to prevent people from linking it to the past generation disaster, but this eventually lead to an oversized console, with more air inside than actual electronics. This lead to one mayor flaw in the console design: the pins that connect to the cartridge bent easily, leading to the console to take extra effort to read the games, or to stop reading them altogether. People though that blowing your cartridges was a solution, but it wasn’t, this lead to moisture starting to break down the electronics, causing more bad than good. There was an NES 2, which used top loading for cartridges instead of the VCR-like interface of the original NES, but it wasn’t that popular.

While smaller and more reliable, the NES 2 wasn’t as popular as it’s bulkier counterpart.

The PS2 started being a very big and bulky console. Not only that, but the disc feeding tray had a tendency to break down. The system made a lot of noise with the fan, and the lack of good HDD support made that extra hole for the HDD unnecessary.
Sony eventually fixed all this by launching a much smaller redesign of the console, with a much quieter fan, and no big HDD bay. This model of the console quickly became popular, and was the model that continued to sell in the next generation.

Winner: The PS2

the NES’s faulty drive and bulky size is a big impact here, and while the PS2 was initially just as bulky (if not more), its smaller redesign was very popular, unlike the NES 2.

Last but not least, I created a thread in /talk to ask users which of the consoles they prefer most. While most people chose the PS2 simply because they grew up with it or because it’s the only they have played of the two, some of the NES voters had a pretty solid point:

“Oh wow, tough call.
Too many games I like on both.

I’m going to say NES.
As much fun as I had on the PS2, its the NES that keeps coming back as the place to be.
Can’t beat that 8bit Megaman music.”
– jc_gargma

i like classic games
i never had a ps2 i have a xbox”

– >forces<

And I specially liked this PS2 voter’s opinion:

“I probably finished more NES games than PS2 games but I have to say PS2 because of FMCB and SMS Media Player. I used the ps2 for ages as an avi player on my old tv.”

– b2p1mp

It is true that for Media Center the PS2 is great, but only if it’s modded, which was not so common back in the era where FMCB didn’t exist. DVDs where a thing though, and the PS2 could read them.

You can view the entire thread .

The overall score in this vote was:
PS2: 7/10
NES: 3/10

Winner: the PS2

Most people today have only played the PS2, so it’s a no-brainer that it’ll get more votes.

The PS2 has scored 3/5, tying up in one of the categories, while the NES only scored 1/5, tying up in one of the category. This makes the PS2 the all-time winner, mostly due to hardware faults and the technological gap between the two. This doesn’t change the fact that both consoles made history, and both are still enjoyable even today.

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