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Top 6 worst video game consoles of all time

Words by Nathan Irvine

Game over

The video games industry has churned out some awful hardware over the years. Some have been commercial disasters, others ill-advised. For every Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo there's been a console that has been confined to the scrap in its thousands. Here's a look at six of the worst video games consoles ever.



CD-i - Philips, Sony

In principle, electronic giants Philips and Sony teaming up to create the world's first CD focused games console seemed great. It was also - inexplicably - one of the only consoles outside of Nintendo to feature iconic game series' Zelda and Mario. OK, they weren't developed by Nintendo, but still, those are two excellent franchises. Anyway, CD-i was a disaster. I remember playing on one in an electronics store when I was about ten years old, and I knew then it was garbage. It excelled at FMV (full motion video), but little else. The titles were less games, and more interactive movies. Terribly acted, soulless interactive movies. And at $799 (around $1,500 in today's money) it was as expensive as it was awful.


Virtual Boy - Nintendo

Hey, remember that time Nintendo made thousands of kids nauseous for no reason at all with what looked like an outdoor barbecue grill? I do. The Virtual Boy was like some sort of military experiment to take out the youth of the mid-90s. This was Nintendo's attempt at making virtual reality work, but in actual fact it was little more than the "3D" effect created by red/cyan glasses. It resulted in players getting motion sickness and complaining of eye-strain. Not even a new Mario game is worth vomiting down your sweatshirt for.


Dreamcast - Sega

An ill-timed launched rendered Dreamcast dead on arrival. Sega's video game console demise was a long, drawn out affair. After hitting the heights with Master System and Megadrive (or Genesis, depending where you are in the world), Sega suddenly hit the death-spiral as it tried to keep up with young upstart, Sony and its new PlayStation. Sega Saturn, Mega CD and many more disc-based consoles came and went with a whimper. The final nail in the coffin was the Dreamcast. The last console that Sega put together was in direct competition with the original PlayStation. But as Dreamcast launched, Sony announced an even newer, sparklier console - PlayStation 2. The writing was on the wall, and as most big developers had moved on to this new-fangled Sony technology, making games for Dreamcast wasn't worth it. By the time it crashed out in 2001, Sega slashed the price from $399 to just $79... and still struggled to offload them.


N-Gage - Nokia

In many ways, Finnish phone manufacturers, Nokia were ahead of the game. It was making built-in phone games - including the legendary Snake - long before Apple came crashing into the smartphone market. But in an effort to create mixture of both - a gaming machine and phone - it built a device that wasn't very good at either. You could barely hear the caller through the awkward looking device, and the games were mediocre. Kudos to Nokia for making smartphones before smartphones were even a thing. But if anything, all it did was set the blueprint for how not to make an all-in-one phone/gaming hybrid.


Ouya - Ouya, Inc

One of the first big "stars" of the Kickstarter trend, Ouya was backed to the tune of $8.5m. Investors bought into the idea of this small console being a modders dream for both software and hardware possibilities. It would allow you to play triple-A games and indie titles from smaller developers through its proprietary app store. And at just $99 it represented great value for money. And if all that sounds too good to be true, well, you're right. Star games never turned up on Ouya. In fact, the ones that did land on the console were lacklustre and usually came with a heavy financial loss to the developer. It was also geared towards mass market - but without any great games or truly special family titles it just drifted listlessly in the market.


Gizmondo - Tiger Telematics

True story: I went to the launch party of Gizmondo in London when it launched back in 2005. It was a star-studded event with Tom Green, Verne Troyer and Dannii Minogue hosting. Boxing great Lennox Lewis dancing with stars of Eastenders. And an unbelievable musical lineup of Sting, Busta Rhymes, Jamiroquai and more. But it was all a front. One which is well captured in this article. It seems that somewhere down the line of making Gizmondo, the firm behind it were more interested in the glamour of launching a new product than they were developing a good one. It was awkward to hold, had games that are sub-standard to even the worst smartphone titles out there now and was incredibly ugly. The fancy party could not hide the fact that Tiger Telematics had created a stinker. My lasting memory of the machine and that party will be of a cast member from UK show Hollyoaks pointing at a Gizmondo and cackling "Is that it? Hahaha!". Quite.

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