The first thing we think about when mentioning video games is the hardware we play them on. In recent years, we have the PC and a couple of video game consoles that we use to run our games. Companies like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are some names in the console market. Competition is tough and innovation is hard to come by. With other companies, namely Valve, unveiling their own video game consoles, competition kicks into an even higher gear.
But looking back, these companies flew because others crawled in the mud. Many attempted to create their own consoles in the wild west of the early gaming industry. A few consoles came out winning, but most weren’t as lucky. These are just 5 of the many video game consoles that faded into obscurity.
Known before as Gametraq, this handheld game console was released in 2005. It came as a response to Nokia’s very own N-Gage, which was a phone and console hybrid. Its developer, Tiger Telematics, published the development in 2003 and went public in three events across 2004. Despite the hype surrounding the console, it never lived up to expectations and was deemed a commercial failure.
It played a few games with the inputs it had, with its most popular game being Sticky Balls. Unfortunately, the game had released in only three countries: USA, UK, and Sweden. Its developing company came under scrutiny with criminal investigations. With the company filing for bankruptcy in 2006, Gizmondo sold only 25,000+ units in its time.
Mattel released an interesting console with a nice, retro design and the phone coil, too. Intellivision is a relic of the 80s, but the titles played on it live on in compilations. Before discontinuation, Intellivision had over 132 titles released in its variations. As it was angled to a home computer, it had a Keyboard Component and Intellivoice, that added a voice synthesis.
The Intellivision wasn’t long for the world, as its successors came in the II and III. These two had faster software and were cheaper to make, and the first one couldn’t compare. In the course of its lifetime as the flagship console, over 3 million units were sold.
A home video game device is something you plug into a display device like a TV. These consoles were quick to become the norm and standard for up-and-coming companies. Panasonic turned up with the 3DO which was released from late 1993 to late 1994. It had plans to include an online service, but it never came to be.
Trip Hawkins, the founder of EA, approached companies like Sony and Panasonic. Of course, Sony refused the deal as they were developing the PlayStation. In its primetime, the 3DO shelled out 2 million units, but its successor, the Panasonic M2, never saw the light of day.
Our next candidate looks like a neat and simple RC helicopter remote control. The naming of this one is interesting and stems from the Japanese slang for gaming hardware. Cassette in the device’s name refers to a contemporary Japanese synonym for ROM cartridge (games cartridges). The CV was priced at over ¥13,500 at the start of its commercial lifetime.
While it looks campy, it held the title of the best-selling console in Japan before the unveiling of the Nintendo Family Computer. Most of its commercial success was in Japan, with its successor attempting European markets with little success. With over 400,000 units sold, it was soon overtaken by the Super Cassette Vision, after discontinuation in August 1984.
Many people around the world are familiar with the Japanese gaming brand SEGA. While they are known best for their IPs and franchises, they too delved into consoles. SEGA produced the Genesis model of consoles and soon wanted to improve the console. Competition spurred the creation of the 32X, focusing on power expansion and more game options.
Due to it being an add-on, it had to give plenty of power to the Genesis. Thus, it came with more RAM and VRAM, but it came with a heavy downside. 32X was a commercial due to poor market timing, shallow game library, and market fragmentation to Genesis. SEGA would sell 800,000 units before its discontinuation in 1996.