open/close all folders
- The original Atari 2600 had a wood look to it that was popular in the 1970s. Throughout the 1980s it had various versions that kept the design intact while having slight differences. In 1986 the 2600 was modernized as a smaller, black looking system similar to the Atari 7800 and marketed as a budget console that could play classic games. This model has been given the Fan Nickname of the "Atari Jr".
- The PC Engine, launched in 1987, was one of the most successful game consoles in Japan. A far cry from its American counterpart, the TurboGrafx-16, which held a distant third place during the Super NES vs. Sega Genesis console war. As a result, it enjoyed a variety of redesigns exclusive to the region along with expandibility options.
- It got not one, not two, but three redesigns in 1989. The first one, the PC Engine CoreGrafx, was essentially a recolored version of the original white PC Engine, but with the RF output replaced with composite A/V. The second model, the PC Engine Shuttle, was marketed towards younger players with its spaceship-like design and unique variant of the TurboPad controller, but lacked the CD-ROM expansion port in order to reduce cost. The third and last of these models was the PC Engine SuperGrafx, which featured an extra video chip and more RAM. The SuperGrafx was intended to be a premium model meant to run exclusive games in addition to standard HuCards (similar to the later PS4 Pro), but because the hardware advantage offered by the SuperGrafx was not significant enough to make much of a difference in performance, only a handful of SuperGrafx-specific games were produced (most notably a port of Capcom's Ghouls 'n Ghosts) and many games that were planned for it were ultimately released as regular HuCards or CD-ROMs. Later variations of the console include the CoreGrafx II (a recolored version of the original CoreGrafx), the PC Engine GT (a handheld version released as the Turbo Express in the U.S.) and the PC Engine LT (another handheld variant, but with a laptop-inspired design and an expansion port for CD-ROM support).
- The CD-ROM2 add-on also underwent a revision as well. The original CD-ROM2 System launched in 1988 (and later redesigned as the TurboGrafx-CD for the U.S. in 1990), consists of three main components: the actual CD-ROM drive (which functioned as a portable audio CD player by itself), the interface unit that connects the CD drive to the consolenote and the System Card (a HuCard that contained the BIOS required to play CD-ROM2 games). NEC later released the Super System Card upgrade for the CD-ROM2 System in 1991, which featured additional RAM and an updated BIOS required for Super CD-ROM2 discs. But PC Engine owners who didn't already own the original CD-ROM2 add-on could purchase the Super CD-ROM2 System instead, which combined the CD-ROM drive, interface unit and Super System Card into one convenient unit.
- This culminated with the PC Engine Duo also launched in 1991 (released as the Turbo Duo in the U.S. alongside the Super System Card in 1992), a PC Engine console with built-in Super CD-ROM2 unit. The original model has a headphone jack and a battery slot that allows it to be turned into a portable game console with a separately available chargeable battery and a mini-LCD monitor. The PC Engine Duo-R was then released in 1993, which has a different chassis (colored white instead of black), updated the NEC logo and removed the headphone jack and battery slot to reduce manufacturing cost. The final model of the Duo (and consequently, the final model of the PC Engine ever), the PC Engine Duo-RX released in 1994, has some minor coloring changes from the Duo-R, an improved CD-ROM drive, and came packaged with a 6-button joypad in lieu of the standard 2-button pad (as fighting games were pretty prevalent by that point).
Nintendo (home consoles)
- Nintendo Entertainment System - Pictured above, the NES-101 model launched in 1993, which converted the system from a side-loading VCR pastiche to a top-loading console with Super NES-style controllers (also known as the dogbone controllers). The top-loading design made the cartridge insertion much more robust, cutting down on the old "flashing light'" problem caused by bent connector pins (though the video quality is somewhat poorer, with faint vertical lines covering the screen), but the Nintendo's poor timing in releasing it so late in the console's lifespan meant that the new design saw little success and was soon discontinued.
- Three years after its debut in Japan, the Famicom got a facelift of its own: produced by Sharp under license from Nintendo, the Twin Famicom was a console that combined the Famicom and its Disk System add-on into a single device. It had greater audiovisual quality than the original Famicom due to it trading in the RF adaptor for RCA connectors. It was only released in Japan.
- The Famicom AV (also known as the New Famicom), a redesign of the Famicom released near the end of the system's lifespan, has the same design as the NES top-loader, but features a flatter surface on the cartridge port (allowing the Disk System's adapter to be plugged in), an expansion port next to the standard controller ports for specialized peripherals and controllers, and AV output ports instead of RF (a huge selling point, as the original Famicom only used RF). The fact that the controllers were detachable instead of wired to the console was also a plus and added the unintended side-effect of making the console compatible with NES controllers due to having the same ports. On the other hand, this also meant the second controller lost its microphone functionality, which a few games supported (most notably The Legend of Zelda, which required the microphone to kill Pol Voices).
- Super NES - Likewise, Nintendo's 16-bitter got the SNS-101 redesign late during its lifespan (known as the Super Famicom Jr. in Japan and simply marketed as the Super NES in the U.S.). Besides its smaller compact design, the main differences between it and the original SNS-001 model was the removal of the expansion dock at the bottom of the console (which only the unreleased Super NES CD-ROM Drive and the Japan-only BS-X Satellaview add-on ended up using) and the fact that the SNS-101 has no support for S-Video and RGB output.
- Sharp, the company responsible for the Twin Famicom, also released two types of CRT televisions licensed by Nintendo: one with a built-in Famicom, and another with a built-in Super Famicom.
- The Nintendo 64 received a Pikachu-themed model with a redesigned body shape and button layout and the expansion port for the failed 64DD dropped.
- Later releases of the Nintendo GameCube removed the plug for digital component cables (well, digital-to-analog component cables... CRTs were still the norm, mind you), due to the low demand for them (resulting in these cables highly sought after among collectors in the secondhand market). A third-party version of the GameCube by Panasonic known as the Q was also released in Japan several months after the original console; this control deck featured the ability to play both GameCube discs and video DVDs (among other hardware revisions), but was commercially unsuccessful due to it costing much more than buying a regular Gamecube and DVD player separately; because of its failure, it never made it to international shores, much to the west's derision (as the ability to play DVD videos was a big selling point for the highly-popular rival PS2).
- The Wii got updated to a black version with the Wii Motion Plus integrated into the Wii Remotes. This led to a Console Wars gag on Penny Arcade where Sony says the PlayStation Move is nothing like the Wii because it's black, only to be informed that black Wiis exist now. "WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?!"
- The "Family Edition" of the Wii is smaller and designed to sit horizontally, but all GameCube backwards compatibility is absent. The pin connectors for GameCube memory cards and controllers are still present, they're just tucked away behind the plastic shell.
- Eventually, after the Wii U was released, there was a new version of the Wii called the "Wii Mini" released in certain markets; this red and black model was, appropriately enough, significantly smaller than the original Wii and was a top-loading console rather than a slot-loader. In addition to the lack of backwards-compatibility with GameCube software and peripherals, the Wii Mini also had no online capabilities (However, as of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection's shutdown, the latter technically only means a lack of ability to download games). This budget-model version of the Wii is often overlooked due to its late release date and minimal quantity of features.
- The Wii U quickly received a black "deluxe" model with four times the storage space of the original white model; this version often comes bundled with a digital download code for a single retail game, usually a first-party one, but standalone deluxe models are purchasable on their own. The white model was quickly discontinued in mid-2015, less than three years after its release, leaving the deluxe model the only one on the market until it was also discontinued in 2016 in order to make way for the Nintendo Switch.
- Game Boy - The original model was succeeded by the Game Boy Pocket, which was smaller and proportionally thinner than the regular Game Boy (allowing it to more easily fit in pants pockets, hence the name), required two AAA batteries rather than four AA ones, and replaced the 2-inch greenscale screen with a slightly larger (and slightly easier to see) grayscale one. Two years later, the Game Boy Light came out in Japan and only Japan; similar in design to the Pocket, this model featured a backlight for the first time. However, it required two AA batteries rather than two AAA ones and would have its runtime shortened by 40% with the backlight on. The Game Boy Color is also officially counted as a new model of the original Game Boy (similar to the later Nintendo DSi and New Nintendo 3DS), despite being released years later and having its own lineup of exclusive software.
- Game Boy Advance - The original model was succeeded by the Game Boy Advance SP, which utilized a rechargeable 700mAh Lithium Ion battery rather than requiring 2 AAs and featured a clamshell design similar to dual-screen Game & Watch titles and the Nintendo DS. The SP also brought back the backlight and introduced it to the West for the first time in Nintendo's history; unlike the Game Boy Light's backlight, this one had both a frontlight and a backlight, both of which could be toggled (a model with just the frontlight was released first, followed by a dual-light revision). However, similarly to the Game Boy Light, activating these lights would shorten the SP's runtime from 18 hours to a mere 10. Two years later, the Game Boy Micro would come out. Unlike the GBA and SP, the Micro lacked backwards compatibility with Game Boy and Game Boy Color game paks, utilized a 460 mAh Lithium Ion battery that ran for 10 hours, and featured a backlight that could be toggled between five different brightness levels. As the name implies, it was also significantly smaller than the original GBA, being roughly the size of an NES controller. Aside from the lack of backwards compatibility, the Micro's main issue was that its design made it incompatible with most GBA add-ons and accessories; most of these devices had to be redesigned in order to work with the Micro.
- Nintendo DS - The original NTR-001 model was followed by the DS Lite, which was a smaller and more energy-efficient (albeit slightly more fragile) version of the same thing. Then came the DSi, which was about the same size as the DS Lite but had different features and lacked backwards-compatibility with Game Boy Advance game paks. Finally, there was the DSi XL, which is a larger version of the DSi, made predominantly for use by seniors who could benefit from a bigger screen and different lighting. It's an interesting sign of the change in Nintendo's target demographic from the time of the DS Lite release to the XL's.
- Nintendo 3DS has also gone through this, first with a bigger version called the 3DS XL and then with a kid-friendlier, hingeless version called the 2DS, as it removes the capability for the 3D effect (and regarding kids whose eyes could be damaged by staring at the effect for too long, yes, that's a feature). They then went on to the New Nintendo 3DS and the New 3DS XL, which are like the DSi in that they hav some better tech under the hood, specifically a faster processor (which helps cut down on load times), stereoscopic 3D that can be viewed at a wider amount of angles, a C-stick to accompany the circle pad, and ZL & ZR triggers. Because of the New 3DS's faster CPU, some games (both at retail and on the eShop) are able to run on it, but not on the original 3DS, or have certain features disabled when played on the original model (such as Hyrule Warriors Legends, which can only display 3D on the New 3DS). The latest to come out was the New 2DS XL which goes back to a clamshell design and has all the enhancements of the New 3DS minus the 3D features.
- The original PlayStation underwent numerous slighty revisions, with each model having many internal and external changes, most notably the removal of the RCA output jacks in the SCPH-5500 series, followed by the parallel I/O port in the SCPH-9000 series. The console eventually received a smaller model in 2000, rechristened the PS one (aka the SCPH-100 series), that was designed to reduce the overheating issues that the previous models occasionally ran into. This was done so by replacing the internal power supply that the original SCPH-1000 series used with an external power supply, as well as removing the reset button and the serial I/O port required for the Link Cable (which was supported primarily by racing games). This resulted in the PS one becoming so small (only slightly larger than a CD case) that, with a portable LCD screen add-on, it makes for a decent portable system, assuming you can find an outlet for the AC adapter.
- The PlayStation 2 received a slimmer redesign as well starting with the SCPH-70000 series launched on 2004, which was even smaller than the PS one, but didn't have a portable screen add-on and lacked the expansion bay for the Hard Disk Drive from the SCPH-30000 and 50000 series (although, it did have a built-in ethernet port for online gaming). In Japan it also got a "media hub" makeover as the PSX (no relation to how to the original PlayStation was abbreviated before it was numbered), which featured an internal hard drive, digital video recording capabilities, and an early version of the XrossMediaBar (the same OS later used for the PSP and PS3).
- The PlayStation 3 had numerous models. Successive models following the launch CECHA00 model upgraded the hard drive capacity, but at the same time reduced some features that some users didn't take too kindly to. This affected backwards compatibility for PS2 discs (PS1 discs still work on all models), media card slots, USB ports, among others.
- The CECH-2000 series was eventually launched in 2009, which featured a smaller form factor (hence the "PS3 Slim" nickname) and added support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio bitstreaming, as well as synchronization with BRAVIA TV sets with the XMB. It most notably replaced the all-caps "PLAYSTATION 3" logo with the Spider-Man-style fonts in favor of the abbreviated PS3 logo (which was adopted for every PS3-related product released from this point on). However, support for PS2 discs was dropped though, with backwards compatibility limited to downloadable games available on the PS Store. PS1 disc support is still present, though.
- The CECH-4000 series was even smaller than the Slim models (hence the "PS3 Super Slim" nickname) and replaced the motorized disc drive in favor of a top loading design with a sliding disc cover. Some versions of the super slim (specifically the CECH-4XXXA models) feature 12GB of flash memory instead of a hard drive as its default memory storage.
- The PlayStation Portable was redesigned as the PSP-2000 (aka the "Slim & Lite"), gaining a better screen and TV-Out capability along with losing some weight. The PSP-3000 was later announced, the main changes apparently being a better analog stick and a microphone for Skype. PSP Go (the N1000 model) removed the UMD slot in order to reduce cost and push downloadable media, making it the first portable gaming console that does not use physical media. But after a couple years of lackluster sales, PSP Go was finally discontinued in 2011. Sony did try to get into the mobile market with the Xperia Play, but that also fell short. Another cost-reduced model that was exclusive to Europe, the PSP Street (the E1000 model) took the opposite approach in the sense that it retained the UMD slot, but removed its wi-fi capabilities, making it a strictly offline device.
- The PlayStation Vita also got a slimmed down version, the PCH-2000 series, which dropped the OLED screen for an LCD.
- The PlayStation 4 has had not one, but two new models announced on September 7, 2016. One is the CUH-2000 (nicknamed the PS4 Slim, but simply marketed as the PS4), a slightly thinner and rounder model with a quieter ventilator and no support for optical audio. The second model is the PS4 Pro (the CUH-7000 series), a roughly 50% thicker model (as in, three slate-like structures instead of two) that outputs 4K video and improved quality for PlayStation VR, among other hardware revisions (such as a faster CPU); in a sense, it can be considered the PlayStation line's counterpart to the New Nintendo 3DS.
- The SG-1000, Sega's very first game console launched in 1983, is itself a consolized version of their SC-3000 personal computer. The main difference between the two is that the SC-3000 has an integrated keyboard, while the SG-1000 has a hardwired Atari-style joystick. Otherwise, both hardware are essentially identical internally and the SG-1000 can be turned into a personal computer with the SK-1100 keyboard, allowing it to utilize the same peripherals and computing software as the SC-3000 in addition to playing games. A second model of the console was released in 1984 known as the SG-1000 II (a.k.a. the Mark II), which replaced the hardwired joystick with a pair of detachable Famicom-style joypads that can be stored on the side. The outer design of the SG-1000 II would end up being used (with slight changes) for Sega's succeeding console in 1985, the Sega Mark III (a.k.a. the SG-1000 M3), which is basically an enhanced SG-1000 with an upgraded video processing unit and a built-in IC card slot (for Sega My Card games that required the Card Catcher adapter on prior models), which in turn would go on to be remodeled for the west as the Sega Master System in 1986.
- Incidentally the Master System would be released in Japan as a relaunched version of the Sega Mark III in 1987. However, this Japanese version of the console differs from the earlier western models by replacing the reset button on the power base with a turbo fire switch (which eliminated the possibility of accidentally resetting your game when trying to hit pause, a much welcomed benefit) and adding built-in support for the Sega 3D Glasses without the need of the card slot adapter, as well as an integrated FM sound chip for games that supported it (which was sold separately as an upgrade module for the Mark III in Japan and never released in the west).
- The Master System would be relaunched as well in North America and Europe with a budget-priced model known as the Master System II. This model featured a more compact design, but at the expense of a lot of features from the original such as the (admittedly unused) expansion port, the card slot (making it incompatible with Sega Card games and the aforementioned 3D glasses) and support for A/V output (only RF was supported).
- The Mega Drive/Genesis underwent through three basic designs, not counting the various minor revisions and later consoles-on-a-chip. The original 1988 console (which has "16-BIT" written in front of the cartridge slot, with a large "Sega Genesis" logo on the American variants) and features a headphone jack with volume slider for stereo sounds and a female DE-9 port on the back for additional peripherals that was never utilized. The second model, known as the Mega Drive 2 in Japan and Europe and sold simply as the Genesis (without the Sega prefix) in North America, was launched in 1993 and featured a smaller form factor for a more compact design by removing the aforementioned features of the original model. The third model, the Genesis 3, was released in 1997 exclusively in North America as a budget console by Majesco and has an even smaller form factor due to the removal of the expansion port and simplified internal components. Unfortunately this made the Genesis 3 incompatible with the Sega CD and 32X add-ons, as well as certain games such as Virtua Racing and Gargoyles.
- The Sega CD (or Mega CD) add-on itself was also released in two models. The original model launched in 1991 was a large front loading unit that was placed under the console itself and has large LED indicators next to the disc tray. The second model Sega CD (or Mega CD 2), released alongside the second model of the Genesis, is a smaller top-loading unit that is placed on the right side of the console. Most of the promotional imagery for the Model 2 Sega CD only showed it connected to the Model 2 Genesis, giving the impression that they were only compatible with each other, but this is not the case. The Model 2 Sega CD can be used with the Model 1 Genesis and it even comes with a plastic spacer that extends the base of the add-on so that it can be connected to the console's expansion port while preserving its aesthetics. Likewise, the Model 2 Genesis can be used with the Model 1 Sega CD, but this combination is a lot less elegant looking due to the larger size of the add-on, leaving lots of unused space next to the console.
- In addition to the stand-alone Mega Drive/Genesis consoles, there were also a few hybrid models that have an integrated Mega CD/Sega CD unit, similar to the aforementioned Duo models of the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16. The first of these hybrid consoles was the Wondermega, released exclusively in Japan in 1992 by both, Sega and JVC, with the Sega-branded version being the rarer of the two variants. The original Wondermega featured a built-in MIDI and microphone ports, allowing it to function as a MIDI synthesizer and as a karaoke machine as well. This was followed by the Wondermega M2 in 1993, which featured a more compact design and removed the MIDI support, but still retained the karaoke functionality. This was the same model that was released in the U.S. as the X'Eye the same year. Afterward came the Sega-produced Genesis CDX (or Multi-Mega), released in North America and Europe in 1994, which lacks the karaoke support of the X'Eye, but has a much more compact design and an LED display, allowing it to function as a portable CD player. The last (and rarest) of these hybrid units, the Aiwa CSD-GM1, released in limited quantities in 1994 in Japan, features an integrated an audio cassette player and functions as a portable radio.
- The Sega Saturn had two main models released: the launch HST-3200 model featured oval-shaped power and reset buttons along LEDs for power and access, while the HST-3220 model released in 1996 removed the LEDs and replaced the oval power and reset buttons into round ones. In Japan these two models were distinguished by the color of their cases: the Model 1 consoles have gray casing with blue power/reset/eject buttons, while the Model 2 consoles have white casing with a red eject button and gray power/reset buttons. The standard-issue controller was also recolored to match the consoles, with the Model 2 controller having color-coded ABC and Start buttons similar to the later released Dreamcast controller. The release of the Model 2 console coincided with the start of the Segata Sanshiro ad campaign. In the U.S. and Europe, Sega made no distinction between the two models, having released both of them in black casing, although the Model 2 consoles in the west did come with the original Japanese-style controller instead of the earlier redesigned controller.
- The Sega Dreamcast received a limited-edition black "SEGA Sports" model that came prepackaged with two games, and another model, the Diver 2000 CX-1, could best be described as a CRT television with a Dreamcast built into it.
- The Xbox 360 received a few model refreshes over its lifespan. The first was the Xbox 360 Elite, which included a larger hard drive and different livery. Subsequent models included the CPU and GPU being made in smaller transistor sizes, so as to curb the overheating and red-ring issue. It eventually got a downsized version, the Xbox 360 S (which dropped the Memory Unit slots and came with built-in Wi-Fi). The final model, Xbox 360 E, resembles a smaller version of the launch model Xbox One.
- The Xbox One received its first facelift at E3 2016 as the 'Xbox One S', a white, 40% smaller system that includes 4K video support (including support for Ultra HD Blu-ray, something that curiously the PS4 Pro lacked, despite Sony's investment in the Blu-ray format) and an internal power supply (rather than requiring a bulky power brick), among other improvements. However, aside from some marginal performance improvement, the Xbox One S was still in its core just a slimmer less expensive version of the standard Xbox One. That's where the Xbox One X comes in. Officially unveiled at E3 2017 after being teased in the previous year's show, the Xbox One X (formerly Project Scorpio) is an enhanced model designed specifically for 4k gaming that features a faster CPU, more RAM and a 6 teraflops GPU (in contrast to the 4.2 teraflops of the PS4 Pro), while somehow being smaller than the Xbox One S (which itself is already smaller than the launch Xbox One). It is also much more expensive than the Xbox One S with a $499 price tag, hence why the Xbox One S will still be offered as the standard model.
- This is common practice in the automotive industry, where cars will have their appearances "refreshed" every few years. Many cars (the Ford Mustang, the VW Beetle) have gone over a decade on the same platform, having their body work periodically updated.
- Sometimes this works in reverse to the console version. For example, the VW Golf has got progressively larger over the years. According to some, this is deliberate: the idea is that someone fond of the Golf brand started out in The '80s with a small cheap fun hatchback, then every five years as they grow more prosperous and settle down they can keep buying the new Golf but every time it's bigger, more family-friendly and more sensible. In turn, VW releases new smaller cars to replace the older Golf as the first-adopter option, such as the Polo and Lupo.
- In a direct aversion of the trope, Lada 2107, first introduced in 1982, is still producednote with essentially zero external changes, despite quite a few internal tweaks, like a completely new engine lineup, for example. Ironically, 2107 is itself a restyle of a 1979 Lada 2105, which was a deluxe version of Lada 2101, a Soviet license-built copy of Fiat-124.
- The Networker Classic was an attempt to do the same for trains: a new 1990s body on the original 1960s chassis.
- When Amstrad ran out of 3" floppy drives for their PCW wordprocessors, they switched to 3.5" drives. The 9512 case didn't need many tweaks to accommodate these, and the result was called 9512+. The older 8000-series models were redesigned to match the 9512, the result becoming the 9256.
- Both graphics processing unit manufacturers NVIDIA and ATI/AMD have released older GPU architectures in current generation lineups. Probably the most infamous is NVIDIA's usage of the G92 chip, which spanned three generations (and accounted for an entire generation).
- Intel turned to the Pentium III architecture to create the Pentium M. On the surface, both are practically the same, but the Pentium M performed so well that it became the Ensemble Darkhorse in the days of the Pentium 4.
- This is common with books, especially if they have a movie coming out. Many books get a movie tie-in cover to entice people who saw the movie first to buy the book, or, once the book has gone out of print once, it'll get re-issued with a new cover to make it look like a new and exciting book to draw in new readers.
- This happened twice with Thomson 8-bit computers:
- The TO-7/70, introduced at the same time as the lower-end MO-5, was a minor upgrade and face-lift to the original TO-7 model. Along with more built-in RAM, improved colors and better light pen support, the case was mechanically improved, with the most obvious difference being the removal of a dangerous protruding heat sink.
- The MO-5E was an upgraded version of the MO-5 with the power supply and joystick expansion built in and a full-stroke keyboard instead of the MO-5's ZX Spectrum-like rubber keys. The E originally stood for "export," since the model was first released in West Germany with a QWERTY-layout keyboard instead of the AZERTY layout used by most French keyboards, including that of the eventual French version of the MO-5E.