All video game consoles are unique and special, but that doesn’t mean they all look good. I love learning about how these consoles are designed and the thought process behind them. So I decided to make a list of the top 15 and worst 15 looking consoles.
Of course this is just my opinion so some may disagree. I tried to see each console as how it looked during the time it came out, and I rated them on how well they’ve aged. Any cool, interesting, or unique design choices were a big plus. I completely ignored how good the console is, and judged it solely based on looks. I’m including color variations, but I’m not going to include special editions, or limited edition consoles. So here we go, starting with the best 15!
Top 15 Best Looking Consoles
I was really excited when I realized the Odyssey made the cut for the top 15. The very first commercial console with cartridges has aged surprisingly well, and it almost could be passed for some sort of contemporary modern art sculpture. If it weren’t for that beige cord, this would be further up the list.
At a time when everyone else was doing brown, grey, and beige consoles, Sega managed to create this futuristic sleek white system. I can’t imagine how cool this looked to kids back in 1985.
The Gamecube’s iconic shape is easily recognizable and unique among game consoles. You can’t tell in pictures, but the Gamecube is small enough in real life, it might even pass for adorable.
The Wii U’s sleek glossy black or white console looks good as a part of any entertainment system.
After the rather ugly North American Super Nintendo, the re-designed Mini (aka Jr.) was a sight for sore eyes. The system is very small in real life, and the sloped top and small buttons look excellent on the tiny system.
As a re-design of the Sega Mark III, they did a great job keeping the sleek futuristic feel. The Master system has nice red accents, and the trapezoidal design of the system is unique, and looks good in person.
Pictures really don’t do this one justice. The 7800 Pro System is jet black with a silver brushed metal band across the system and the joysticks. The bands are highlighted by a rainbow stripe which looks fantastic. Even though this console was released in the mid 80’s, it looks as though it easily could have come from the 90’s or later.
And the award for “most improved” goes to Intellivision II. The first Intellivision with it’s gold, brown, and woodgrain design reminds me of ashtrays and chain smoking. But the Intellivision II was a sharp white/red/black design that was a complete 180 from the first.
OMG look at how TINY it is!!! It’s so KAWAII! SQUEEEEEEE!!!
While everyone else got the standard black Sega Saturn, Japan got this sleek white version with unique colored buttons that work well with the white. The logo on this version of Saturn looks much better than the non-Japanese versions as well.
I think Sony did well with the design of the PlayStation 4. Even though it’s basically a black/white box, there’s enough lines and angles to keep it interesting. In the end, I think they managed to make something that looks futuristic in 2013.
I’ve always thought the PlayStation 2 was a sharp looking console when vertical. It has the larger left side, and the smaller right side which make it look like a skyscraper. I read somewhere (and I can’t seem to find it now) that the original model of PS2 was designed to represent atmosphere and space. That’s why the base is blue, and above it is black. Even the logo fades from bright blue at the bottom, to dark blue at the top.
The Wondermega was a Genesis/Sega CD all-in-one made by Victor. The lights around the disc tray light up, and it even has a mechanical lid! It’s quite stylish, and looks much better than the JVC X’Eye.
You know what, a picture is worth a thousand words, but that doesn’t do the Wondermega justice. Here’s a short video of one in action.
The Dreamcast is a gorgeous system with a cool circle and V motif. If you look at the top of the console, if those 2 lines in the back were to extend, they would align with the power light triangle in the front. And the whole top has a single large circle, exactly in the middle. The controllers have the same design too, with a V angle coming up from the controller handles, and intersecting the large circle. Also it’s hard to tell in the pictures, but the Dreamcast is sloped down at the front top, and as it goes back it sweeps up at the end. This is a really cool effect, and it gives the system a very sleek look.
When I started this list, I had a feeling that the #1 position was destined for the Wii. The glossy futuristic Wii sits back at an angle on it’s stand, which makes it much more interesting to look at than the Wii U. The blue glowing disc slot was striking to look at, but unfortunately it did not light up very often. I have heard that the Wii was very loosely designed after the NES. if you look at the NES from the front, 2 of the corners are cut off at the bottom. With the Wii, if you look from the top or side (without the stand) there is a corner cut. In fact, if you look at the strap on the Wii remotes, you’ll see a rectangle with a cut corner. It’s these small design choices that helps to put the Wii at the top of this list.
Next is the list of worst looking consoles. For this category, I focused on consoles that had uninspiring designs, awful color combinations, and didn’t age well at all.
“Top” 15 Worst Looking Consoles
Ready for some controversy? I know this might not make some people happy, but here’s my thought process. Microsoft claims they created “dozens and dozens” of concepts for the Xbox One console. And in the end, they picked something that looked completely un-inspiring. It’s clearly designed to blend in with an entertainment center and not draw attention to itself, but in the end they ended up with what a betamax player might look like in 2013. I miss the original Xbox’s giant X and green jewel, and I miss the Xbox 360’s “inhale” design. What happened to those cool ideas Microsoft?
Speaking of controversy, yes, that just happened. Remember I’m not rating system by how good they are at playing games, I’m rating their looks, and the North American Super Nintendo did not age well at all. I’m sorry but, grey, darker grey, and purple doesn’t work, even in the 90’s.
This is the Xbox one 22 years earlier.
“Let’s make something that will blend in with the entertainment center!”
“Ok, how do you feel about grey rectangles?”
“I’m totally for them!”
“How do you feel about literal waves of grey, beige buttons, and an awkward LCD?”
“Only if the beige buttons are the color of hearing aids!”
“I gotcha covered!”
The Sega Genesis is a great looking classic system that – wait, what the heck is that??? Awww, you ruined it with a 32X, now it looks like it has a massive tumor.
This is a design that says “Let’s just approve something so we can go to lunch.”
Awww, someone let their 7 year old daughter design a system on bring your daughter to work day.
Somebody at Atari thought it would be a good idea to make a console’s color theme “wet concrete and Smarties.”
Besides looking like a projector for 10-year-olds, you may also think that the hearts might mean it was aimed at young girls, right?
Haha, nope! Here’s the “girl version” and they somehow managed to make the loopy even more gaudy.
If you’re looking for a console that was inspired by a cash register, or maybe a security panel, then I have just the one for you!
Besides having what looks like the worst control system ever, the RCA Studio II is clearly based on the ugliest of old 70’s appliances.
I literally don’t even.
For some reason they decided to print their name twice on this console even though “Voltmace” sounds like a terrible way to die.
You know what goes well with dark brown consoles? How about really fake peeling light woodgrain stickers. Oh, but that colorful logo totally makes up for the miserable colors on the rest of the system.
I’ve been trying to think of what this color reminds me of, but I can’t think of anything beyond rotten fruit and body fluids. And besides having a stupidly long number after it’s name, the real rotten cherry on top of this disaster sundae is the drooling moronic face.
o ____ o
It gets worse. When a controller is removed from the holder, it looks like it needs to be put out of it’s misery.
This poor miserable ugly piece of hardware is truly deserving of the #1 slot of worst looking consoles.