How Well Do You Know Old School Gaming Consoles?

John Miller

Image: JohnHoward/DigitalVision/gettyimages

About This Quiz

In the olden days, you stuffed a pocketful of quarters into a table-size machine in order play hours of “Mrs. Pac-Man.” But video game manufacturers knew that you craved games in your basement rec room, too – and they worked feverishly to meet that demand. Do you really know anything about the history of home gaming consoles?

Video gaming quickly turned into an incredible market. Corporate names like Atari, Nintendo, and Coleco weren’t just geeky sideshows, they were household names that everyone, even grandma, knew. Before long, everyone was playing “Joust” or “Missile Command” from the comfort of their own couches … and the gaming world would never be the same again.

What do you recall about the first Nintendo consoles? Were the specs up to par against new Sega units, or were the CPUs balkier and less responsive? And do you really know which traits doomed some failed models? Which was better -- the Xbox or the Nintendo 64 or the DreamCast?

Grab your joystick for this video game console quiz! Maybe you’re a Super Mario hero, or you're really just a Zelda dropout!

Which iconic gaming console was released in September 1977?

It came with just two joysticks, but it brought countless hours of joy to people the world over. It was the Atari 2600, one of the world's first truly successful gaming consoles.

Which company made the very first gaming console?

It made its debut in 1972. It was the Magnavox Odyssey, the world's first mass-produced gaming console.

What was a common criticism of the Atari 5200?

Do you like spongy buttons and sloppy joysticks? Step right up to the Atari 5200, which was reviled for its terrible controllers.

What best describes a "dedicated console"?

The first gaming consoles were called "dedicated consoles." They played one -- and only one -- game.

What was the first console to use removable cartridges?

In 1976, the Fairchild Channel F hit retail. It was the very first system to use removable cartridges, and it started a trend.

Upon its introduction, how much did the 1972 Magnavox Odyssey cost?

The Odyssey could be had for the low, low price of just $99. But when you account for inflation, that's actually nearly $600 in today's cash.

Which company introduced the Wii console?

In 2006, Nintendo debuted its wildly popular Wii console. It featured a motion detection controller that revolutionized gameplay.

What year was the Sega Genesis introduced?

In 1988, Sega found a hit with its Genesis. The 16-bit console featured quality graphics and crisp gamplay thanks to its 7.6 Mhz processor.

"Super Mario Bros." debuted on which console?

It was, perhaps, the video game to end all video games: "Super Mario Bros." This action-packed game was made for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

What was featured on the ColecoVision's controller?

The ColecoVision controller had a basic telephone-style number pad. Players could place flexible overlays on the keypad for each different game they played.

What sort of media did the Sega Genesis use?

The Genesis, an '80s-era system, used a cartridge-based system. For years, cartridges were the most popular media storage method.

How many years passed between the introduction of the NES and the Super NES?

The NES was launched in 1983, and it became one of the most popular consoles of all time. Seven years later, the Super NES also found.

What was one of the early games that found success on the Magnavox Odyssey?

"Pong," one of the first video games ever, was popularized in part by the Odyssey. It was a simple game that mimicked a round of table tennis.

"Sonic the Hedgehog" was first popularized by which console?

In 1991, Sega Genesis started the "Sonic the Hedgehog" craze. It was so popular, Sega made sure its later devices were also ready for "Sonic" games.

What was the color of the single button on the Atari 2600?

The 2600 joystick is as iconic as the system itself. The simple joystick on a square base​ was graced by a single red button used to blast enemies of all kinds.

Which console made Sony the undisputed king of the console market in the 1990s?

Nintendo ruled the '80s -- Sony triumphed in the '90s. Its PlayStation console struck a balance between power and affordability, and players loved it.

The Xbox was which company's first attempt at the console market?

In 2001, Microsoft unveiled the Xbox, a CD- and DVD-based console. It was the first console to sport a hard drive, but it never managed to usurp the PlayStation 2's incredible reign.

In addition to the (rather atrocious) joystick controller, what other device did players use for the Atari 5200?

In spite of the terrible joysticks, the Ataria 5200 sold more than 1 million units. Atari also produced a Trak-Ball controller, which was useful for titles like "Missile Command."

What was Sega's follow-up to the Genesis?

The Genesis was a major commercial success. The Saturn? Not so much. But that's in large part because the Saturn battled against the great Nintendo 64.

What sort of media did Nintendo's GameCube use?

For years, Nintendo relied solely on cartridges for its console. The GameCube was a departure from that routine -- it was the first Nintendo console to use optical discs.

What sort of processor did the Atari 2600 have?

And you wonder why the graphics were so clunky and blocky. The 2600 featured an 8-bit CPU, one that was advanced for the era.

True or false,? You can play GameCube games on a Wii?

It's true. Nintendo maximized the flexibility of the Wii optical disc system, allowing it to play games meant for the GameCube.

"Videocarts" were popularized by which system?

The Fairchild Channel F was the first console to implement the use of removable cartridges. They were called Videocarts, and sold for around $20.

In terms of sales, which fared better, the PlayStation or PlayStation 2?

The PlayStation was a big seller, with more than 100 million units sold. But the followup was even bigger, with more than 155 million units sold, making it the best-selling console in history.

What was the Sega Genesis called outside of North America?

The Sega Genesis was a smash hit in the United States and other parts of North America. Beyond North America, it was called the Mega Drive.

"Pitfall!" was a fabulously popular game for which console?

In this Atari 2600 classic, Pitfall Harry must sprint through a jungle without dying in any number of the game's traps. This one was so popular that it sold around 4 million copies.

How much RAM did the Atari 2600 feature?

Remember when RAM was a miniscule portion of a computer's specs? Neither do we. The Atari 2600 had just 128 bytes -- yes, bytes -- of RAM.

What unique feature was included on the Fairchild Channel F?

The Fairchild Channel F might have been released in 1976, but the manufacturer already knew your mom would be screaming at you to give it a rest. It included a built-in "hold" button right on the console.

What was the original name of the Atari 2600?

For half a decade, it actually wasn't called the 2600. It was the Atari Video Computer System. And it ignited a firestorm of interest in video games.

The Sega Genesis was enormously popular. How many were sold?

It's the kind of success that any console maker would love to have. Sega sold more than 30 million Genesis systems, enough to cement it as one of the best gaming platforms ever.

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