The 90s were a period of transition, where those old and retro game consoles were becoming more modern, and new and visually appealing games started to emerge.
Console and video game companies like Nintendo and Sega had already established their strong presence at this time. But none of their consoles was able to become the number one seller of the 90s.
Let’s find out which company brought us the best selling game console of the 90s.
Best Selling Game Console of the 90s
The three best gaming consoles of the 90s are the Playstation (1994), the Nintendo 64 (1996), and the Sega Saturn (1994). Of all three, the Playstation (1994) had under 80 million units sold by the end of that decade.
Sony’s entry into the entertainment market and their first-ever console made a complete revolution in video games. Nevertheless, it all happened by a somewhat “fortunate mix of circumstances” for Sony and their intention to develop a video game console.
History of the PlayStation (1994) Console
Believe it or not, Sony’s original idea for entering the video game market was to partner up with Nintendo and create a special peripheral for the SNES to read and play games from a Compact Disc.
Even though both corporations struck a deal, the partnership was dissolved because of Nintendo’s fear that Sony would acquire important licensing rights related to the Compact Disc. Instead, Nintendo signed a deal with Philips, leaving Sony to use that opportunity and start designing its own video game console.
Ken Kutaragi, the father of the Playstation, was responsible for Sony’s involvement in the gaming world, even though the corporation had no interest in it up until that point. Kutaragi’s proposal for manufacturing a CD-ROM-based console was revolutionary at the time since the cartridge was a “standard” with consoles.
Another bold and revolutionary step for the company was implementing 3D polygon graphics. This technology, paired with games developed and released on Compact Discs, made Playstation the number one console of the 90s since its release on the 3rd of December, 1994 in Japan.
Design, specifications, and controller
The original Playstation (1994) console had e square-like shape, resembling other competitor consoles of the era. But unlike them, it was notably lightweight and smaller than, for example, the Sega Saturn.
Like other consoles, the Playstation was simple, with only two buttons on the front for the power and reset functions. It had two controllers and two memory card ports in the front, and you could also connect up to eight controllers and memory cards using Sony’s Multi-tap accessory.
Because of the design, early console versions were prone to overheating, leading to poor game performance and skipping audio quality. Still, Sony quickly resolved this issue by improving the original ventilation.
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Specifications and hardware
The original Playstation console had a single-core 32-bit processor with 33.86Mhz speed. I had only 1MB of video RAM and 2MB of RAM, which was revolutionary then, and could deliver 360.000 polygons per second.
Implementing a separate Graphics processor meant separate data management between processors. 32-bit games with 3D graphics ran smoothly on the console because of this.
The dedicated graphics chip rasterized the graphic data, taking the 2D animations and adding textures and shades. This resulted in increased gameplay and animation quality compared to other competing console games at the time.
Another revolutionary feature implemented in the Playstation was the Geometry Transfer Engine (GTE). This engine used 2D images and elements, which it then converted and displayed as 3D polygons on the screen. This is how Playstation was able to introduce 3D gaming to the world.
You might know the Playstation controller as the one with those distinct analog sticks, right?
The original console didn’t have any analog sticks and was similar to other competing brand controllers in button layout. The most notable difference was in the naming of the buttons, with which Sony established a recognizable trademark. Namely, instead of using letters, they chose specific shapes like the green triangle, red circle, blue cross, and pink square.
Because of the company’s focus on 3D gaming, the need to implement the well-known analog sticks into the later versions of the Playstation emerged. This allowed users more freedom when exploring 3D environments while not relying on fixed binary eight-way switches.
This led to the creation of the first generation Dual Shock controller, which had built-in vibration motors to give vibration feedback to the player based on the actions on the screen. The motor on the left was larger than the one on the right, allowing various vibration levels. The Playstation became the best selling game console of the 90s, largely because of its unique and amazing Dual Shock controller.
Besides its primary purpose of being a revolutionary gaming console, the original Playstation also had other multimedia capabilities. People used it to play music through audio CDs. The console had all the functions of a standard CD player at the time, with the ability to play songs in order, shuffle songs, and even repeat songs and play them in a loop.
Japanese versions of the original Playstation could even play Video CDs with MPEG-1 video + audio encoding.
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Most notable Playstation (1994) games
Over 3.000 games with more than 950 million copies sold were released for the original Playstation console. Hundreds of those games have sold over 1 million copies worldwide and have established themselves as some of the best games ever played in the 90s.
The Playstation console experienced enormous success with its games, even though Sony had to rely on other third-party companies to develop the games for them.
Some of the most notable games for the original Playstation console are the Gran Turismo series, the Final Fantasy Franchise, Tekken, Crash Bandicoot, Tomb Raider, and many more.