With Sony’s PlayStation 4 now available, and Microsoft’s Xbox One set for release in just a few days, I thought it might be worth it to take a look back on some of the other gaming consoles that have debuted over the years with similarly high hopes only to be completely glossed over, misunderstood or generally forgotten about.
In researching this article I came across a few of these consoles for the first time myself, so here’s hoping you learn something today outside of the proper, meaningful stuff that you learned in church or school or at work or off the back of a cereal box or some such. I just think it’s fair that someone outside of the fifty people who bought one ought to think about these machines now and then.
Also, please note that every one of these is in fact a variation on an already-existing (and massively popular) machine. As far as I remember, I’ve never seen a single one of these in actual human life, and that’s as an actual human man who’s been known to visit a shop on occasion (though only in extreme cases of course, like the exhaustion of one’s bread supply or for the purchase of PSN vouchers back in the post-hack paranoia that gripped us all two summers ago). For your benefit, and ’cause I’m just the sweetest, I’ve organized them by category, so do keep reading, you persons.Next
For the sake of context, I’ve lived in the UK my whole life, so forgive my use of the term Mega Drive, US chums, but it’s a far cooler name than Genesis and I’m willing to bet The Book Of Mega Drive will make for a higher quota of churchgoers if the Pope accepts my proposal.
I’m going to start this off with some of the variants of Sega’s greatest machine (grumbles from the Saturn fans in the cheap seats) as there are so blasted many of them. Make no mistake here, I’m not talking about the various tinkerings made to the Mega Drives 1 and 2 (like a white button here but a red one there), no, what we’re talking about are WHOLE NEW bits of plastic that do other a lot more.
Most impressive is the Sega Multi Mega (or Genesis CDX in the Americas), which combined the fairly useless Mega CD under the same hood as a regular Mega Drive. Though the machine clearly looks the business, it was incompatible with the console’s 32X add-on which meant if you wanted to play arcade-perfect versions of Mortal Kombat II or the wacky Sonic spin-offs that no one remembers because they were only released on stupid optional add-on consoles that no decent child’s parents understood, you couldn’t. No, I am not bitter that I never had a chance to play Knuckles In Chaotix. Not one bit.Previous Next
And how about that Mega PC, eh? At a thousand pounds/four billion dollars on its 1993 release, it’s hard to credit that anyone who paid for one boasted the fundamentals of human decency. After considerable research (incorporating half-recalled episodes of Saved By The Bell and making stuff up), it emerges that computers in the early-to-mid 1990s were glorified calculators, also capable of rudimentary word processing aided by the abhorrence of ClipArt and an optional screensaver of three-dimensional pipes taking form from nothingness with the later ability to download a single sample of static pornography over a 13-hour period.
Those with money to burn and seats booked in the more disgustingly well-furnished corners of hell bought the privilege of playing their Mega Drive games on a PC monitor, ever confident that should the moment ever arrive when, smack bang in the middle of a go on Sonic The Hedgehog (as pictured) they needed to insert a picture of a leaping stick-figure priest under a garish heading written in Comic Sans MS, they’d be able to do so without ever leaving the multicolor madness of Aquatic Zone Act 2.
Anyway, it’s basically a computer and a Mega Drive. I like the white controller, but that’s it. Everything else about it makes my mind cry. A thousand pounds. Lordy.Previous Next
There’s also a similar but different (honest) machine called the TeraDrive that allows you to run PC functions and play Mega Drive games at the same time. Who on earth thought they needed such functionality? Plus, and I’m no historian or nothing, but seeing as the Internet wasn’t invented by Al Gore until 2003, if you had a Sega on the same machine then such once-popular activities such as calculating and processing words would now be obsolete. M’just sayin’. What I’m not just sayin’ was that such devices were actually credible forerunners to gaming PCs and the general adaption of modern machines as media centers and that they deserve more credit than has been afforded them in the paragraphs of this very article. Not sayin’ that at all. Stupid Sega PCs.
Sega also released a portable version of the Mega Drive called Nomad. I would have called it The Mega Boy (the “The” is mandatory) because I am better at names than Sega. Nomad ran the home console’s cartridges right in the back of its big ass self, required six batteries to fuel its reportedly limited play sessions and had no reset button, so completion of certain titles (most notably 1993’s X-Men) was apparently, impossible. Way to go. My hands ache just looking at it. Game Gear it ain’t.Previous Next
Finally, the most humble member of the Genesis family, the ill-fated Genesis 3. Yes, it’s a beauty, but it had so much gear removed from its hardware that it was sold for, at its lowest, a mere £20. What’s that in American dollars, like, three bucks? A buck fiddy? Remember that £1,000 console I mentioned ages and ages ago? Well this one costs, like, a…hang on, yeah, a fiftieth of that (guess that Mega PC calculator would come in handy after all.)
The thing that baffles me about the Genesis 3 is that it was available until 1998 or so as I recall, which is a full three years after the release of the Playstation, and the same year that Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil 2 were released. That they were still selling Mega Drives the year Resident Evil 2 came out says a lot about the console’s popularity, but more still about Sega’s failure to straight up move on to bigger and better things which would damage them in years to come.
A final Mega Fact – the console is so popular in Brazil that new games are still released for it (though obviously not developed by major studios or in any way legally). So, you could be playing brand new (but hideously outdated) games on your Mega PC, TeraDrive, Nomad or Mega Silly SuperContraptor or whatever the shit Sega was thinking all those years if you just moved to Brazil and bought a bunch of crappy machines no-one ever wanted.Previous Next
I wanted to discuss the Nintendo 64DD first because LOL bras. This was an add-on available in the late 90s to make the already-impressive console more impressive, but despite its apparent power and amusingly mammary moniker, it only ever supported (ahahahaha) nine games and the only person I ever met who knew about its existence was named Graham (and that is absolutely true), and I think he might have spelled it Graeme.
I’ve already facetiously addressed the industry’s fondness for sticking fun game consoles inside crappy boring grey computers, but real talkin’ bro, have you ever wished your favorite machine could be switched from Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo: Hyper Fighting (real game) to beamed-from-space television at the flick of a button? No worries (except for the fact that even on modern consoles that’s not as simple as you’d think in 20-bleedin’-13), you just need to get yourself a Nintendo Satellaview: the SNES that’s also a Satellite recievery player doodad yoke. The tech of this machine baffles me and I can do no more research on it than I’ve already exemplified. Just know that despite persistent rumors, it did NOT allow you to control live television with an SNES pad.
I guess on a list of failed consoles Nintendo’s Gamecube could arguably secure a spot. Hold off, fanboys: I loved that little machine (I’ve got mine within sight even as I type), but the little purple box that could, well, couldn’t. It never really took off like the Big Two’s consoles and as far as core gamers are concerned Nintendo’s been at a disadvantage ever since. What could have made it a more worthy venture? A DVD player? Being silver? Having a single letter of the alphabet for a name? Witness ye now, traveler, the Panasonic Q, the least sexily titled machine on this or any list.
Basically, it’s a Japan-only hybrid of a DVD player and a Nintendo Gamecube. Sure, it looks nice (reeeeeally nice), but considering that both components could be bought separately for less than it cost at retail, it only sold to big silly idiots with tar in their skulls. Despite that groovy Gamecube logo with the little angular ‘Q’ worked into it, it was gorgeous but totally moronic and indefensibly invalid. Like Kim Kardashian! HIYOOOOOOO.Previous Next
On, at last, to Sony. I bet, since you’re not as messed up as me, you don’t recall people referring to the original Playstation as ‘PSX’ with a twitch in your eye. Man, I hated that. You saw it on forums a lot (because the entirely reasonable abbreviation of ‘PS’ is apparently not reasonable at all), and often in cheaper third-party gaming magazines in the 1990s in those phone-up-for-a-cheat-code ads with the guy in the long leather coat and sunglasses.
With the release of the actual PSX in 2003, you would have thought such blatant wrongness would have ceased, but as it panned out the truly gorgeous white machine (which recorded digital video as well as playing PS2 titles, which the PS3 can’t even do!) bombed and everyone else got to continue in their abuse of extras x’s forever and ever and ever. Still, it briefly worked in my pedantic favor when correcting folks for all of a month or whatever.Previous Next
Finally, the only game machine on this list that’s actually a television. Yes, the Sony KDL22PX300 is a television first and foremost, released only a few years ago, but with a PS2 built in. Not a PS3, no, but a console that was in fact at the time of this hardware’s release a generation old. Also, it only runs in 720p, which for a TV with the capabilities of running videogames is pretty, pretty, pretty poor. And it’s fugly. What I don’t get about it is literally every part of its design and functionality. Still, at least it doesn’t run on Windows…
Had I more energy I’d continue on this journey into absolute brain-numbing hardware development but the hour is late and I’ve meters to go before I sleep and promises (that I’d get some sleep) to keep. I’m sure Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One are likely to do a little better than most of the above, but it’s due in some small part to the above machines’ influence that you’re even able to browse the Internet, watch TV and play Sonic 2 on a game machine these days at all, so spare them a thought as you get stuck in and please, if you have any classic console memories to share, do so below.Previous