The sixth generation of gaming is the best


Graphic by Ella Ermshler

The sixth generation of video gaming consoles still stands as the greatest of all time.

Now that the PlayStation 5 and the XBOX Series X have joined the Nintendo Switch in the market of newest game systems, we’re starting to settle into the ninth generation of video game consoles.

That’s not a bad trio of gaming consoles, but to this day, it is the sixth generation of consoles that still reigns supreme in my eyes. Having the PS2, original XBOX, and Nintendo GameCube in the same era is something that gamers likely will never see again. A lot of teenagers probably don’t know much about these consoles since they started booming in the early 2000s, but they missed out on something very special.

This was the first generation of gaming that Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft established themselves as the creators of most of our mainstream home consoles. The heated present-day fights and arguments that occur between the PS5 and the XBOX Series X started 20 years ago with the PS2 and the original XBOX. The idea of playing video games online originated in this generation. “Respect your elders” is a common saying in life, and I don’t think these consoles are exceptions to that saying.

The sixth generation of consoles established itself as the home of the peak of many popular video game franchises. Just look at Madden! Ever since EA Sports got the exclusive NFL license and the seventh generation of consoles (XBOX 360, PS3, etc.) started coming out, Madden has been constantly declining.

People might look at sixth-gen graphics and current-gen graphics and say, “Holy cow! The graphics today are light years better than it was in 2004!” Duh, of course it’s supposed to look better. Technology evolved like crazy over the past 17 years and it’s three generations later.

The sixth-gen graphics back then were actually revolutionary at the time. You want to talk about PS5 versus PS2 graphics? Go look up gameplay of Madden NFL 2001 for both the PS1 and the PS2 and you’ll see that the PS2 looks insanely better.

Here’s the bottom line. A game is not automatically good just because it has stunning graphics. If you’re making a game, then you have to make the game fun to play. That is common sense.

Let’s look at Madden 2005, one of, if not the best game in the franchise. In that one game, you could create an entire franchise from scratch. Fully customized names, colors, stadiums, rosters, uniforms and more. You can’t do that in Madden 21.

That’s just one of the many features in PS2-era Madden that isn’t in Madden today. Training camp mini-games, creating your own plays from scratch, the NFL Superstar career mode, situation mode, tournament mode; none of those features are in current Madden games!

It doesn’t make sense! How does a game get worse every time it jumps to the next-gen consoles? Madden 06 for the PS2, GameCube and XBOX was a goldmine of a game, but Madden 06 for the XBOX 360 and PS3 was underwhelmingly trash. Then franchise mode was taken out of the game for Connected Careers, which was also trash.

There are so many issues with modern Madden. Glitches, poor presentation, lack of depth, shallow and forgettable soundtracks, heavy reliance on Ultimate Team and microtransactions and no more cameos. I’m pretty sure people would get hype if Patrick Mahomes said, “EA Sports. It’s in the game” when you pop Madden into your system.

It’s sad to see a game with such a prestigious image just get watered down like crazy. Madden was at its best when it had competition. NFL 2K, NFL Gameday and NFL Fever were games that rivaled Madden on the licensed NFL simulation video game market and at least motivated EA Sports to make sure their games were the best. Hopefully 2K can jump back in and lock horns with EA because I’m not buying a next-gen console until I have a half-decent football game to play on it.

It’s not just sports games that thrived in the sixth generation. Let me touch up on the Mario Kart franchise as well. I honestly think the most underrated game in the series is Double Dash, the Mario Kart for the GameCube. That game paved the way for the franchise’s return to a dominant household game. Mario Kart 64 was a great jump from the SNES, but Double Dash was an even bigger jump from 64.

Double Dash is still to this day the most innovative game in the series, and this is 2003 we’re talking about. The franchise is well-known for implementing items in a racing game, which a lot of other franchises have tried to recreate in their own images. In Double Dash, each character had his or her own special item, an item that no other character in the game could obtain. Of course that is until you unlock King Boo and the Piranha Plant, who can use every special in the game, but that’s a different story.

The special items separated all of the characters from one another and added an entirely new strategic aspect to the game. Do you want to play as Donkey Kong and use his giant bananas to set slick traps? Do you want to play as Peach and have the ability to pick up items from around the track and from your opponents? Have the luxury of using triple shells with the koopas? Drop giant bob-ombs out of nowhere with Wario? Throw fire with Mario?

Mario Kart: Double Dash was the game in the series that required the most skill. The special items, no overpowered bullet bills to take you from last to first and luxury of playing as two different characters at the same time, a feature that has been absent in Mario Kart ever since. This game was so good, Nintendo recreated tracks from older Mario Kart games and put them in every game since Mario Kart DS. Double Dash is a bona fide gem, and as long as I have a GameCube, that is the game I am not letting go of.

At the end of the day, the PS2, the XBOX and the GameCube have provided us with some of the best games of all time. Super Smash Bros. Melee, MVP Baseball 2005, God of War; I can name sixth-gen instant classics all day. One last thing to note is that the PlayStation 2 is the highest-selling video game console of all time according to IGN. Roughly 159 million PS2 units were sold, including the three in my own household. That’s how great the sixth generation of video games was, and it’s going to take a lot of work to surpass it.