With CGMagazine having just been sent review units of both the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5, what better time to reflect on the best-looking console designs of all time? But first, some ground rules:
No cancelled/prototype consoles (rip Atari Panther)
No off brands so no Super Joy, no PolyStations and no, not even the glorious Battman
Best-looking is intentionally left ambiguous: console designs can be sleek, glamorous and even, dare we say, sexy – but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there
Only one version/revision per console
All aboard? Good! Off we go:
Honourable Mention #1: Next-Gen
Next-gen consoles only get an honourable mention because a) everyone is still getting used to having them in their gaming spaces (or not, since the PS5 is hilariously huge) and b) neither of them really impress: the PS5 is still ugly to me and the Series X looks like a sleek if boring fridge. Honestly, when it comes to next-gen, I much prefer the design of the Series S, but even with that the jokes about the vent on the top being a speaker/grill make themselves.
Honourable Mention #2: Xbox One X
The Xbox One X is the closest console designs have ever gotten to Brutalist architecture: it’s too slick to be an Ugly Duckling, but too rigid to steal the show.
#10: PlayStation 2 Slim
The PlayStation 2 Slim reminds us of a little black dress in that it brims with elegance and refinement and in that it works for every single occasion. And yet, without some added pizzazz, the PS2 Slim sometimes blends in a little too much with the crowd; a clear indication that there is such a thing as too simple.
#9: PlayStation Vita
A clear improvement over the literally edgy PlayStation Portable, the PlayStation Vita is quite the looker…as long as you’re looking at it from the front. When you see it from behind, though, it almost looks like a high-tech, Sony-branded sleeping mask. Also, in terms of actual use, the analogue sticks are too small for a lot of people. What is this, a console for ants?!
#8: Nintendo GameCube
The Nintendo GameCube is the contrarian’s favourite console design because it is brazen, weird and because, unmistakably, it has a handle. In fact, it may very well be the only console with a handle, so points for that.The only real problem with the GameCube is that the name is heinously literal – also why the original Xbox didn’t even make the list.
If PlayStation 2 Slim is the little black dress, the PSOne is a glamorous wedding dress and by far Sony’s best console design. The best part about is probably the size: just look at how compact it is! Suffice to say that a certain white next-gen console would do well to take a lesson from the PSOne’s design book…
#6: Nintendo Switch Lite
The most recent entry in this list, the Switch Lite, may be abrasively bright for some, but to our eyes these unorthodox colour combinations paired with an improved D-Pad and a sleek unibody cut makes this a pretty irresistible console design.
#5: Game Boy Advance SP – Tribal Edition
Now, this...this is sexy. Just look at Mario: his sex appeal increased 10x over with that tribal tattoo.
#4: NeoGeo Pocket Color
Small, yet powerful, the NeoGeo Pocket Colour is one of the most pristine console designs on this list. And, whereas, like with the Vita, it may be too small to hold in bigger hands, the sheer convenience of it fitting neatly in most pockets makes it worth it to us.
#3: Super Famicom
Rounding up the top three is the Super Famicom, which boasts a console design that is, quite frankly, hard to complain about. It is honestly impeccable – and the best home console design. It also happens to be juuuust a tad bit better than its NTSC counterpart.
Even after so many years, the DSi still manages to feel incredibly modern. This is because Nintendo’s engineers have boiled down all the elements that make a sensational console design into a seemingly effort-less piece of technology and one that would top our list, if not for…