Infamous video game consoles
Video games are a fiercely competitive business. It’s built on technology and speed, so everyone wants to have the most innovative system on the market.
But the race to the top of the technological heap has a way of diving right to the bottom, and these infamous video game consoles managed to do that in truly unbelievable ways (especially the last system we’re talking about, which is literally one of the strangest stories in the history of video games).
Via Wikimedia Commons Virtual Boy – Nintendo
When you hear the words “infamous video game console,” this is definitely one of the first things to pop into your head. The Virtual Boy was released in 1995, and was discontinued within a year of its release. The system was one of the earliest examples of “3D gaming,” and was technically very far ahead of the curve.
So, what went wrong? In order to achieve 3D back then, they could only use the colors red and black, making every game look like a literal nightmare. And the 3D itself was notorious for giving players headaches and nausea, but even worse was that the system only ever got a total of 22 games.
Unsurprisingly, it’s one of Nintendo’s lowest selling systems in the entire company’s history.
Via Wikimedia Commons Atari Jaguar – Atari
Let’s get this out of the way up front: There are badass games for the Atari Jaguar. The original Alien Vs Predator shooter made its debut on the system, Tempest 2000 is super fucking great, and other games on the system are absolutely worth playing?
So, why is it infamous?
Simply put: Its marketing. The Atari Jaguar was marketed as the first “64-bit console” in 1993. Now, look at that GIF real quick. Think about any game you played on the Nintendo 64.
Gamers were not impressed with the “power” of the Atari Jaguar. In the most technical sense imaginable, it was a “powerful” system that was indeed “64-bit,” but with the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis utterly dominating the landscape, the Atari Jaguar officially died in 1996, making it the final console Atari ever released (for now, they’re trying to get a new one off the ground, but good luck with that shit).
Via Wikimedia Commons 3DO – The 3DO Company
On paper, the 3DO didn’t sound like a suicidal pitch for a game console. It was meant to be one of the first true CD-based systems that wasn’t an add-on, and the company behind the system was founded by Trip Hopkins, one of the founders of Electronic Arts. And like the Jaguar, it got some pretty decent games.
But the 3DO’s infamy came from one thing, it’s price. The 3DO was released in the U.S. in 1993 at the price of $699.99.
And that’s not adjusted for inflation.
The unbelievable price crushed the system’s chances of ever being a hit, especially when the CD technology it was using wasn’t nearly innovative enough to warrant that price. In retrospect, the system is fine, but its never been able to shake the infamy of its launch price.
Via Wikimedia Commons N-Gage – Nokia
Damn, the world of playing games on the go before smartphones led to some really bizarre shit (and the final entry of this piece is quite possibly the ultimate example of that), but the N-Gage was just screwed from the start. The name was laughable, but the fact it was trying to be a functional cell phone in 2003 and a game system is what fucked this up the most.
Simply put, the system didn’t really play video games all that well, and it really didn’t help that the system was known as the “taco phone” due to its strange shape. And just like the 3DO, it had an absurd price, $299.
Unsurprisingly, the N-Gage was quietly discontinued in 2005, existing for just over two years.
Via Wikimedia Commons Philips CDI – Philips
The Philips CDI was barely a game system. Mostly used for software like encyclopedias and tours of world locations, it had a shockingly long life-span, released in 1991 and discontinued in 1998. Under normal circumstances, it wouldn’t be worth talking about.
Except for one little wrinkle.
The Philips CDI originally started as a project in cooperation with Nintendo, who wanted to get into CD technology. The partnership fell apart, but Philips still had the rights to some Nintendo properties, namely Mario and Legend of Zelda.
And the four games that came out of this, Hotel Mario, Zelda: Wand of Gamelon, Link: The Faces of Evil, and Zelda’s Adventure are among the worst games of all time.
Not only are they truly horrible games, but they are meme fodder of the highest order, with all of them featuring horrible animations and voice acting that would drive anyone insane. They are also pretty rare, so they’re a collector’s item in the same way that the Necronomicon is a valuable collector’s item.
Via Wikimedia Commons Gizmondo – Tiger Telematics
I don’t even know if I’m joking when I say that anyone out there could have done a better job coming up with a game console than the folks behind the Gizmondo. It feels like the people who made it set out with one goal: Make a system worse than N-Gage.
Via Imgur While the Gizmondo wasn’t a phone combined with a game system, it had GPS tracking and some features you’d expect from a PDA.
But they fucked up every aspect of this system in ways that are almost unbelievable. The system cost $400, and when it came to the U.S. only 8 games were released. And you could only guy Gizmondos in the U.S. at mall kiosks. You know, those things where people try to sell you incense and crystals.
Via Imgur With almost no advertising, no easy ways to buy the system, and intense competition from the Nintendo DS and the PlayStation Portable, the Gizmondo was crushed into dust. Tiger Telematics, the company behind the system, went bankrupt with $300 million in debt.
And we haven’t even talked about the Swedish mafia yet.
Via Imgur You didn’t read that last part wrong. The Los Angles Times wrote a MASSIVE article about Bo Stefan Eriksson, one of the men behind Tiger Telematics, and let’s just say that Eriksson was deeply affiliated with some Swedish criminal organizations, on top of a knack for crashing a Ferrari Enzo at the absolute wrong time and managing to get two years in prison for it.
It is truly one of the strangest stories in the history of video games, and I can’t even begin to sum it up. Think of the Gizmondo like the Fyre Fest of video game consoles, an abomination that painfully saw the light of day and dragged criminal charges onto people deeply involved with its creation. And I can’t think of a more deserving system for the title of “most infamous game console” than that.
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