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Gaming elicits passion in so many people. Everyone has their opinion about the best systems, but even more have their opinions about the worst gaming consoles in existence. Video games have become such a huge part of our pop culture today. Pac Man and Donkey Kong solidified themselves as part of society, and video game culture has never looked back.
The video game industry is a multi-million dollar industry and it’s only natural that electronics companies want to get their fair share of the cash. Many companies have tried to hang in there with the big boys at Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, but it was hard for them to compete. Atari had a great run in the early 80s, but once the original Nintendo system came out, their days as a major player were numbered.
These systems were so universally unpopular that it is still possible to buy one of them where they give you almost every game they had in production, without the need for cartridges. Zelda games anyone?
For every success story, there’s bound to be failures. Everyone likes a winner, but everyone also likes a little schadenfreude, too.
The Saturn by Sega
Sega's Saturn is arguably the worst game system in the industry, not because the console itself was all that bad, but because it led to the eventual demise of Sega in the video game industry. Sega was looking for a way to combat the release of the Sony Playstation and Atari’s Jaguar systems. They poured tons of money into the Saturn, and were plagued by problems from the start. After some initial success in Japan, the system eventually limped into the US market at a price of $399. It was just way too expensive, and when Sony came out with the superior Playstation for $100 less, that was the beginning of the end for Sega.
The Jaguar by Atari
The Atari Jaguar was the game system that took Atari out of the console market and pushed them to just focus on their software. The system came out in 1993 and was billed as a high powered, super gaming system because they were a 32-bit system when all the other systems were still 16-bit.
The Jaguar was a good idea that was just executed poorly. The biggest problem with the system was that they had a very limited games library, which didn’t resonate well with consumers. In addition to their limited games library, and video game developers who didn’t want to create games for the Jaguar, was that the controller is largely considered one of the worst controllers in the history of gaming.
The Virtual Boy by Nintendo
Nintendo tried to cash in on the virtual reality craze that hit in the late 80s to mid 90s with the Nintendo Virtual Boy. There had been companies in the past that tried to harness the perceived power of VR, and Nintendo was no different. The company was promising a gaming revolution, but the only revolution was in how much the consumers decided to not purchase the Virtual Boy. It flopped miserably because the product and experience couldn’t live up to the current state of virtual reality.
The Gizmondo by Tiger Telematics
No list would be complete without the 2005 release of the Gizmondo. The parent company, Tiger Telematics, promised a litany of features like Bluetooth, texting, and a camera. Sounds pretty standard by today’s standards, but this was 2005. The Gizmondo only had one title available when it was released and sold only 25,000 units. The owner of the company was eventually arrested on a cocktail of charges and, not surprisingly, Tiger Telematics went bankrupt.
The Megadrive 32x by Sega
Ahh, Sega. What did you do to yourselves? Sega put forth the Megadrive 32x to compete with the Atari Jaguar, which was not a wise decision. This plugged into the existing Sega console, but was quickly undone by the Sega Saturn. The 32-bit game system barely had a chance to get off the ground before word got out that the Super Nintendo, at a mere 16-bits, was still a superior system. Sega eventually scrapped the Megadrive 32x for the ill-fated Saturn, and we already know how that worked out for them.
The Dreamcast by Sega
At this point, it’s probably appropriate to put the final nail in Sega’s coffin. The Dreamcast came out in 1998 and was a system of promise for Sega. 128-bit memory and detachable memory cards, plus a controller that could function like a mini Game Boy. In its own right, this system should have been the savior of Sega. However, where the system showed promise, the worst Sega games in history were offered up. It didn’t take Microsoft and Sony long to play out Sega’s requiem to the tune of industry and consumer disdain. This was the end of Sega.
The Pippin by Apple
Nobody can doubt the success of Apple. Their products are a mainstay in so many homes, school, and businesses, but not many people know about Apple’s brief journey into the gaming world. Apple released the Pippin in 1995 at a whopping price of $599. It promised to be somewhat of a bridge between gaming console and computer. It failed at both and, two years later, it was gone.
The CD-i by Philips
The Philips CD-i was a great concept with a weak execution. The CD-ROM era of video games was promising, with more storage and features that could be added to a gaming disc. Philips dropped the ball by providing games that just didn’t make sense, or simply weren’t any fun to play. They were so eager to reinvent the wheel that they ended up releasing some of the worst video games ever made (however temporarily).
The Lynx by Atari
Atari took a run at a handheld system with their Lynx in 1989. This came out shortly after the very successful release of the Nintendo Game Boy. Truth be told, it had a lot of potential. So, why is it on the list of the worst gaming consoles? Simple. Atari couldn’t deliver. They messed up the production and couldn’t meet the demand of the consumers. Guess what mom and dad bought little Timmy when the Lynx was sold out? Add to this a fairly poor selection of games, and the mystery is solved.
The N-Gage by Nokia
Nokia should have stuck to phones, but they wanted to dip their feet into the gaming market. Billed as both a phone and a gaming console, neither one worked very well. The phone had to be held sideways just to work and the games were complete garbage. It was obvious this was thrown together as an opportunity to make a quick buck.