It seems there was a time where every new game became a bit more powerful than the last. N64 and Playstation added the first (proper) 3D experience, with the next consoles pushing that trend to create almost photo-realistic environments for us to play in. But it seems that there has been a shift away from this progress recently, with the growth of mobile gaming.
The first mobile game that really took off was Snake on the Nokia phones. The graphics were simply an array of squares. The game play, however, was very addictive. There was no-one, at the time, who was proposing that snake was competing against Nintendo, Sega, Sony or later Microsoft. This game, and games like it, were intended as a little extra shine to sell the phones.