While game companies like Nintendo have been bringing back their classic consoles, the industry has a very selective memory. Not all of the consoles we owned growing up were global hits. In fact, we spent hours playing games on these 10 forgotten systems:
1. Sega Dreamcast
Ah, take your mind back to just before this console’s famous 9/9/99 release date. Remember how excited you were? The console’s 32-bit graphics were quickly overshadowed by the PlayStation 2, especially since the Dreamcast was launched with barely any great games.
While the console was later home to hits like Sonic Adventure, Shen Mue and Soul Calibur, it lasted just two years, and ended Sega’s home console business for good.
2. Atari Jaguar
Dropped into the red hot console wars of the 1990s, Atari distinguished their console from Nintendo and Sega’s by playing up its 64-bit CPU. Their slogan was “Do the Math,” which was probably a mistake (nobody wants to think about math while they’re gaming).
While Atari quickly lost confidence in the system, fans are still making their own games for it to this day. Nowadays it’s also remembered for its finger-crippling controller which featured 22(!) buttons.
This pint-sized console (still the smallest one ever made) failed to compete with the SNES and the Mega Drive despite being “16-bit” (really 8-bit with 16-bit video encoders). The fact that it could display 482 colors at once didn’t win over American gamers, but it was more popular in Japan.
4. Sega Nomad
Sega bravely competed with Nintendo for control of the handheld market, and their experiments were always plagued by short battery lives. The company’s parting shot at the Game Boy’s reigning popularity was the Sega Nomad, a portable version of the Sega Genesis.
While the console was actually an improvement on the Game Gear, the Nomad was only released in North America. Sega may have been too focused on the Saturn’s release to give this handy little console its due.
Keep reading to revisit Nintendo’s most famous flop…
5. Apple Bandai Pippin
Okay, we’ll be amazed if you actually remember this one, but we just had to include it. This collaboration between Apple and the toy company Bandai was so short-lived they wound up producing more keyboards for the Pippin than actual consoles.
A bizarre crescent moon controller and just 18 games released in North America guaranteed this console would be an instant failure, and we’re still disappointed in Steve Jobs for this wonky release.
6. Coleco Vision
In the early ’80s the heavyweights of the video game market were the Atari 2600 and the Intellivision, with toy company Coleco’s offering in a distant third place. Most of the system’s best games were also released for the Intellivision, and it used a confusing number pad controller.
In a stroke of bad luck, the Coleco Vision was also released just months before the entire video game market crashed. Coleco mothballed their whole video game division just 18 months after this system launched.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me present Time Magazine’s Product of the Year 1994! Yes, this console (called the Interactive Multiplayer) was cutting edge, but it was punching above its weight by competing with major companies like Nintendo. The console also faced a serious price disadvantage: adjusted for inflation the 3DO cost more than $1,000 at release, compared to a little over $300 for a SNES.
8. Sega Saturn
If the Dreamcast was the last gasp of Sega’s home console business, then the Saturn was the first nail in the coffin. When the console launched in 1994 it was overshadowed by the PlayStation just four months later. Then the N64 hit the scene. That one-two punch basically killed the Saturn.
Die-hard Sega fans still have a soft spot for this console thanks to its impressive library of arcade ports, but Sega also held back some of the console’s killer games from being released in North America.
9. The Virtual Boy
Hey, they can’t all be winners. This “portable” Nintendo console had a huge setback: it would scorch your eyeballs if you tried to play for more than 20 minutes at a time. Players say the monochrome red 3D display actually gave them headaches, and the system’s 14-game library didn’t attract many eager customers.
10. Neo-Geo AES
There’s a lot to appreciate about SNK’s home console. Yes it was expensive, and yes the number of games available for the AES was limited, but it excelled in one crucial way. This was the absolute best way to play SNK’s classic fighting games at home. It even sold with an arcade-style joystick controller.
Share this list if you remember any of these consoles!