6th Generation

1998-2009: The 128-bit Generation

The sixth generation began in 1998 in Japan with the Sega Dreamcast, but this would be the last console for the video game giant. The video game tides shifted in a new direction, introducing a new console power; the original Xbox. Although Xbox would be the most powerful console of this generation, it was the PlayStation 2 that would be king.

The sixth generation of gaming, also known as the era of consoles, was a period of intense competition and innovation in the gaming industry. It marked the transition from 2D to 3D gaming, with a focus on graphics and processing power. The sixth generation consoles included the Sony PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Microsoft Xbox, which were released between 2000 and 2001.

The sixth generation of gaming was also marked by the rise of portable gaming, with the release of the Nintendo Game Boy Advance in 2001. The Game Boy Advance was a major upgrade from its predecessor, with better graphics and more processing power. It also had a wide range of games, from classic Nintendo franchises like Super Mario Bros. to third-party titles like Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.

Overall, the sixth generation of gaming was a transformative period for the industry. It saw the emergence of new technologies and innovations that would shape the future of gaming, while also introducing new franchises and games that are still beloved by fans today. Whether you’re a fan of classic PlayStation games, Nintendo favorites, or Xbox exclusives, the sixth generation of gaming had something for everyone.

Home consoles:

  • 1998, November 27 (JP): Sega Dreamcast
    1999, September 9 (NA): Sega Dreamcast
    Company: Sega
    Original price: $199.99
    2019 price: $299.82
    Sales: 9.13 million
    Number of Games: 636
    Best-selling game: Sonic Adventure (2.5 million)
    Media: CD-ROM (1.2 gigabytes)
    Main controller(s): Dreamcast controller
    Other peripherals: VMU (Visual Memory Unit), Dreamcast mouse and keyboard, Fishing rod, Microphone, Light Gun, Dreameye, Sambas de Amigo Macaras (controller)

The Sega Dreamcast paved the way for sixth-generation consoles. The Sega Dreamcast was the last console produced by Sega before the company withdrew from the hardware market. Released in 1998 in Japan and 1999 in North America, the Dreamcast was a technologically advanced console with 128-bit graphics, an embedded modem for online gaming, and a unique controller design with a built-in memory card. Its launch library included several critically acclaimed games, including “Sonic Adventure” and “Soulcalibur”.

Despite its innovative features and solid launch, the Dreamcast struggled to gain traction in the marketplace, facing stiff competition from Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox consoles. Additionally, the Dreamcast was released during a time of financial turmoil for Sega, which led to poor marketing and distribution strategies. These factors ultimately led to the Dreamcast’s commercial failure and Sega’s exit from the hardware market, although the console retains a devoted following among retro gaming enthusiasts.

Despite its commercial failure, the Sega Dreamcast had a significant impact on the gaming industry. It was the first console with a built-in modem for online gaming, paving the way for online console gaming in future generations. Additionally, the Dreamcast’s controller design and graphics capabilities influenced subsequent console designs, such as the Xbox and PlayStation 2. The Dreamcast’s library of games, while small, was notable for its quality, featuring several iconic titles that have endured in popularity to this day. Overall, the Dreamcast represents a landmark in gaming history and a testament to Sega’s innovative spirit.

  • 2000, March 4 (JP): PlayStation 2
    2000, October 26 (NA): PlayStation 2
    Company: Sony
    Original price: $299.99
    2019 price: $433.97
    Sales: 158 million
    Number of Games: 3909 (7978 for PS1)
    Best-selling game: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (17.3 million)
    Media: DVD, CD (games, movies, and music)
    Main controller(s): DualShock 2, DualShock, PlayStation controller
    Other peripherals: PlayStation 2 Memory Card, EyeToy, PlayStation 2 DVD Remote Control, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2 HDD, Network Adapter, Guitar/drum/microphone controllers, Dance Mats/Pads, Arcade sticks, Logitech cordless controllers, Sega Saturn Ps2 controller

In the year 2000, Sony released the highly anticipated follow-up to its successful PlayStation console, the PlayStation 2. The PS2 was not only a significant improvement in terms of graphics and processing power, but it also marked a shift in how people interacted with their video games. The PS2 had built-in support for online gaming and the ability to play DVDs, which made it an attractive all-in-one entertainment device for many consumers.

One of the key features of the PS2 was its backward compatibility with the original PlayStation, meaning gamers could still enjoy their old games on the new console. The PS2 also boasted a massive game library with many critically acclaimed titles such as Grand Theft Auto III, God of War, and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The console was known for its longevity, with Sony continuing to support the system with new games and accessories for over a decade after its release.

The PlayStation 2 was a huge commercial success, selling over 155 million units worldwide and becoming the best-selling video game console of all time. Its impact on the gaming industry was significant, paving the way for the continued evolution of video games as a form of entertainment and solidifying Sony’s position as a major player in the gaming world.

  • 2001, September 14 (JP): GameCube
    2001, November 18 (NA): GameCube
    Company: Nintendo
    Original price: $199.99
    2019 price: $283.76
    Sales: 22 million
    Number of Games: 552
    Best-selling game: Super Smash Bros. Melee (7 million)
    Media: GameCube game disk
    Main controller(s): GameCube Controller (built-in rumble)
    Other peripherals: WaveBird, GameCube – GBA Link, Nintendo GameCube Broadband and Modem Adapter, Game Boy Player, DK Bongos, Dance pad, Nintendo GameCube Microphone.

The Nintendo GameCube was released in 2001 and featured a unique, cube-shaped design. While the GameCube wasn’t as popular as its competitors, the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, it still managed to hold its own and carve out a dedicated fanbase. The GameCube introduced several new features, such as a built-in handle for portability, and the use of mini-discs instead of traditional DVDs or CDs.

The Nintendo GameCube is Nintendo’s first disk-based console. Nintendo was hesitant to use disks in the previous generation because of its perpetual fear of piracy. However, the disks the GameCube used were a different size from the standard CD and DVD.

One of the standout features of the GameCube was its library of first-party games, which included fan favorites like Super Smash Bros. Melee, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and Super Mario Sunshine. The console also had a reputation for being family-friendly, with many of its games suitable for players of all ages. Additionally, the GameCube offered a unique controller design, with a comfortable grip and a button layout that would eventually become a standard for Nintendo consoles. Despite its relative lack of commercial success, the GameCube remains a beloved console for many gamers.

Second-tier consoles:

  • 2000 (Early): Nuon (VM Labs)
  • 2003, November 17 (CN): IQue Player (IQue)
  • 2004, August 4: V.Smile (VTech)
  • 2004: Atari Flashback (Atari)

Handheld consoles:

  • 2001, March 21 (JP): Game Boy Advance
    2001, June 11 (NA): Game Boy Advance
    2003, February 14 (JP): Game Boy Advance SP
    2005, September 13 (JP): Game Boy Advance Micro
    Company: Nintendo
    Original price: ¥9800-¥12,500 (JP), $99.99 (US)
    2019 price: $144.36
    Sales: 81.51 million
    Number of Games: 1510 (1,931 backward compatible original Game Boy and Game Boy Color games)
    Best-selling game: Pokémon Ruby and Saphire (13 million combined)
    Media: Cartridge

Released in 2001, the Game Boy Advance was the long-awaited successor to the Game Boy Color. The GBA brought with it several improvements, such as a larger and brighter screen, longer battery life, and superior graphics and sound capabilities. The system’s 32-bit processor also allowed for faster and more complex gameplay. Additionally, the GBA featured a wider range of games compared to previous Game Boy consoles, with popular titles such as Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, and Super Mario Advance.

One of the most significant features of the Game Boy Advance was its compatibility with earlier Game Boy titles. Users could play Game Boy and Game Boy Color games on the GBA thanks to its backward compatibility, making it an attractive option for those who wanted to play classic games. The GBA also introduced new accessories, including the Game Boy Advance Wireless Adapter, which allowed players to connect and play with each other wirelessly, as well as the e-Reader, which let players scan cards to unlock content in compatible games. The Game Boy Advance enjoyed widespread popularity, with over 81 million units sold worldwide.