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The console wars grand finale: Xbox 360 versus Xbox One versus Nintendo 3DS
by João Carrasqueira
Welcome to the final round of the console wars. For the past month, we've asked you to choose your favorite consoles in a series of polls, and your votes have brought us to the grand finale. Of course, that means it's up to you again to choose the true winner.
First, let's recap what happened in round two. The first matchup saw the Xbox 360 pulling an undisputed victory with nearly 50% of the votes. In second place, the PlayStation 2 won over just 24% of the voters, giving the Xbox 360 a crushing win. An interesting result, to be sure, considering the PlayStation 2 is the best-selling console of all time.
The second match pitted the original PlayStation, the Nintendo 64, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch against each other, and once again, Microsoft pulled a convincing. The battle was a bit more balanced here, but the Xbox One still got over 34% of the votes, with the Nintendo Switch slightly edging out the PlayStation for second place with roughly 27% of you choosing it.
Finally, the third match was focused on handhelds, and all of them were made by Nintendo, so there was only one possible winner. More specifically, victory went to the Nintendo 3DS, with roughly 34% of our readers voting for it. In second place, the Game Boy Advance had about 26% of the votes, and it's certainly interesting that sales numbers don't correlate to the poll winners at all in any of these matchups.
With that being said, we now have the three finalists - the Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Nintendo 3DS. You can vote for them right now, but since we're down to the final three, we'll also introduce you to each of the contestants below the poll.
What is the best console of all time?
Xbox 360 Xbox One Nintendo 3DS Submit Vote Meet the contestants
The Xbox 360 was Microsoft's second foray into the world of game consoles, following a relatively lukewarm reception to the original Xbox. Microsoft kickstarted the seventh-generation of consoles, having announced the Xbox 360 in May of 2005, and releasing it in North America, Europe, and Japan later that year. As such, it was the first console to feature HD graphics and it also ushered in the era of online gaming with Xbox Live, though the service was already available to some extent on the original Xbox.
Original Xbox 360 "Premium", Xbox 360 S, and Xbox 360 E The Xbox 360 also introduced a new controller that worked wirelessly and had a significantly improved design that not only negated the criticism towards the original, but actually became one of the most praised controllers for its comfort. The console itself got redesigned a number of times throughout its life, adding more storage, connectivity options, and addressing some reliability issues like the infamous "Red Ring of Death". The most recognizable revision was the Xbox 360 S, launched in 2010, but it also got redesigned to look more like the Xbox One with the Xbox 360 E model in 2012.
By this point, Microsoft had started to gain recognition for its online service, and it had a hugely popular franchise in the form of Halo, with other franchises like Forza Motorsport and Fable having also started to grow. Between that and other well-known exclusive games like Gears of War, the Xbox 360 had a strong library early on. Combine that with stronger third-party support, an earlier launch than the competition, and a more attractive price than the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360 led in terms of sales for a long time, barring the casual-focused Wii.
Kinect for Xbox 360 However, towards the end of the Xbox 360's life, the company shifted its focus towards the Kinect - a motion-sensing camera - trying to lure the casual audience away from Nintendo. Meanwhile, Sony had introduced cheaper versions of the PlayStation 3 and kept investing in games like The Last of Us and the Uncharted series later on. As such, the Xbox 360 ended in third place in its generation, having sold over 84 million units. Still, it's Microsoft's best-selling console officially.
The Xbox One was first revealed in May of 2013, and its initial reception was completely opposite from the Xbox 360's early days. Microsoft initially wanted to require a constant internet connection, make reselling games impossible, require the use of Kinect, and the first presentation of the console focused much more on media and television than gaming. Microsoft did try to focus more on games at E3, but then it had to contend with Sony. The PlayStation 4 was revealed to be cheaper than the Xbox One, confirmed support for used games, and focused even more on the gaming crowd, which meant Microsoft was off to a very slow start. The first model of the Xbox One was also mocked for being bulky and looking somewhat bland.
But Microsoft put a ton of effort into turning things around as the generation went on. The Kinect was eventually removed from the Xbox One package (and ended up being killed off entirely for gaming purposes), and Microsoft introduced two redesigns that made the Xbox One much more appealing. The Xbox One S, announced in 2016, made the console much smaller and gave it an all-new visual identity, along with adding support for HDR and 4K. This also brought an improved Xbox Wireless Controller, now with Bluetooth support, which allowed it to work on PCs and mobile devices easily. Then, in 2017, Xbox One X became the world's most powerful console, with support for native 4K rendering, all while being even smaller than the One S.
Microsoft also started focusing on games again, and capitalized on its incredibly popular Halo franchise by releasing The Master Chief Collection in 2014, containing almost every game in the series' history so far, with the first two being remade to look the part on Xbox One. Microsoft also finally put its acquisition of Rare to good use with the release of Rare Replay, a collection of almost every Rare-developed game from the 30 years prior, including cult classics like Conker's Bad Fur Day and Banjo-Kazooie. And of course, that's to say nothing of big new games that came out in the next few years from series like Halo, Gears of War, Forza (including the open-world Forza Horizon sub-series), and new franchises entirely like Sea of Thieves and Ori. On top of that, backward compatibility, which was initially missing, would be added later on for both Xbox 360 and some original Xbox games.
Microsoft stopped reporting sales of its Xbox consoles in October 2015, but estimates point to it having sold 51 million units as of the end of the second quarter of 2020. Far from a failure, the Xbox One ended up in a distant second place from the PlayStation 4, and has also been surpassed by the Nintendo Switch, but it stands as a testament to the mistakes Microsoft made and the lessons it learned in this era.
We already talked about the entire history of the Nintendo 3DS just a few months ago, in honor of the console being discontinued in 2020. You can always read more there, but here's a quick summary. The Nintendo 3DS was first announced via a simple press release in March 2010 and then shown off at E3 that year, but it wouldn't release until March 2011.
Its headlining feature was support for glasses-free 3D, which required the user to look at the screen from a very specific angle and distance. It also featured higher-resolution displays, better graphics, and new control methods like a Circle Pad and motion sensors, compared to its predecessor. However, the console initially failed to gain traction thanks to its high price point and lack of blockbuster titles in the first few months.
Nintendo was determined to turn things around, though, and reduced the price from $250 to $170 just a few months later, and with big original games like Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 releasing that holiday season, the 3DS began to exhibit a decent amount of success. It eventually got original games from series like The Legend of Zelda and Pokémon, revived franchises like Luigi's Mansion and Kid Icarus, and expanded the popularity of Animal Crossing, which no doubt contributed to the worldwide phenomenon that was Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Nintendo Switch many years later. Even some third-party exclusives, like the Monster Hunter series and Resident Evil: Revelations (which was only exclusive for about a year), were released for the system.
The Nintendo 3DS received a handful of revisions, including the 3DS XL with bigger screens, and the 2DS, which removed 3D functionality and was more affordable. All models got revised with the "New" branding later on (2015 for the New 3DS and New 3DS XL; 2017 for the New 2DS XL), bringing even more control options, improved processing power, and better 3D support in the 3D-enabled models.
With 75.94 million units sold, it was far from Nintendo's biggest success in the handheld market, but it was far ahead of its competitor - the PlayStation Vita.
And those are the finalists this time around. Who will come out on top in the grand finale of the console wars? It's up to you. Cast your votes and we'll reveal the grand winner in a few weeks.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl bring new visuals to the DS games
by João Carrasqueira
During today's Pokémon Presents event, The Pokémon Company introduced a brand-new adventure and gameplay style in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, but those looking for a trip down nostalgia lane, it also introduced the long-awaited remakes of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl.
Called Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, the new games try to breathe new life into the titles originally released on the Nintendo DS in 2006 in Japan (2007 worldwide). However, unlike prior remakes in the franchise, these don't bring the original games to the same level as the current main series games - Pokémon Sword and Shield. Instead, these remakes focus on retaining the feel of the original titles, obviously upgrading the graphics and visuals to make use of the much more powerful hardware of the Nintendo Switch.
As such, the titles retain the fixed camera with a top-down view, but now use 3D for the entire game world and the battles, which were still in 2D on the original. They also appear to offer more freeform movement compared to the grid-based style of the games they're based on. From the footage shown, the game looks exactly like you'd imagine them to based on that description. In fact, no other differences were mentioned during the reveal, though typically remakes like this have incorporated some elements of the third game in each generation, which in this case would be Pokémon Platinum.
Interestingly, the titles are being developed outside by an external studio, ILCA. The Japanese studio had helped develop the Pokémon HOME app for Nintendo Switch and mobile devices, and this is the first time it's developing an actual Pokémon game. Presumably, resources at Game Freak are focused on developing Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are coming to the Nintendo Switch in late 2021, though a more concrete date is still unknown.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus is an action RPG coming to Switch in 2022
by João Carrasqueira
On February 27, the Pokémon franchise is celebrating its 25th anniversary, marking the initial release of Pokémon Red and Green in Japan. In celebration of that, The Pokémon Company today held a special Pokémon Presents video presentation, where it announced a couple of upcoming projects. Perhaps the most notable of these is Pokémon Legends: Arceus, which is coming next year.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus is one of the biggest shake-ups the franchise has seen as far as the main series of games goes. Just like previous titles, this one is developed by Game Freak, but it takes a radically different approach to the game's design, with the company labeling it as an action RPG, rather than a turn-based strategy game like previous titles.
In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, players will be taken back to the Sinnoh region, which is where Pokémon Diamond and Pearl took place, but this time, it will be many years in the past, before people settled in the region as it is known today. The population of Sinnoh in this title will be focused on a single village, and players will travel the wilderness in an attempt to create the first-ever Pokédex.
Arceus, the titular character of the game, is known in the Pokémon world as the creator of the Pokémon universe, and will apparently be at the center of the story, though we don't yet know how.
One thing that's notable about the title is that while three starter Pokémon are available, they're actually from different generations of games. The fire-type starter Cyndaquil hails from Pokémon Gold and Silver, the water-type Oshawott from Pokémon Black and White, and the grass-type Rowlet is from Pokémon Sun and Moon. Apparently, these creatures were brought to the Sinnoh region by a yet-unknown professor.
There are still a few mysteries surrounding this game, but Pokémon Legends: Arceus is slated to release in early 2022 on the Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo announces The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD for the Switch
by João Carrasqueira
As promised, Nintendo today held a 50-minute presentation focusing on existing and upcoming Nintendo Switch titles. While some may have hoped to hear about the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the company said it needs more time, but it plans to share more about the game later this year. In the meantime, however, fans will be able to play or replay a remastered version of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, originally released on the Wii in 2011.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD will feature higher resolution textures than the original, so you'll be able to see more detail in the world, but the graphics upgrade is overall fairly minimal from the Wii release. The remastered edition does promise to improve the responsiveness of the motion controls, however, which series producer Eiji Aonuma claims to be possible thanks to the improved processing power of the Switch.
In addition to that, you'll now be able to play the game entirely with button controls, a major addition for those that weren't fans of the focus on motion controls in the original. That also means you can play the game in handheld mode or on a Nintendo Switch Lite. Motion controls for Link's sword are replaced with a flick of the right analog stick, and while that may seem problematic, it's worth noting that the original game had no camera control either way, so nothing changes there.
For those who got into the franchise with Breath of the Wild, Nintendo reminded fans that Skyward Sword was released a good while before the paradigm set out by that game, so the open-world exploration elements aren't as prevalent here, instead focusing on a linear story. The title did introduce some familiar features that would get expanded upon in Breath of the Wild, like gliding with a cloth and a stamina gauge for running and climbing.
In addition to the game itself, Nintendo announced a pair of special edition Joy-Con controllers themed after The Legend of Zelda as a franchise. The controllers feature slightly different shades of blue with Zelda elements in gold and red. Both the game and the Joy-Con set will be available for purchase on July 16.
Aside from the Zelda news, Nintendo shared a lot during its 50-minute presentation. The news include Mario Golf Super Rush coming June 22, new DLC content for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, and the premiere of Splatoon 3, which is planned for a release in 2022. You can watch the full presentation here if you'd like to learn more.