Bottom-10 Worst Consoles of All Time

Since I already listed what I thought were the 10 Best Consoles of All Time, I felt it appropriate to also list the Worst Consoles of All Time. These are consoles which were doomed to failure and obscurity by stupid features or for being just plain bad…

10. Magnavox Odyssey

The Magnavox Odyssey was released in 1971, making it the first publicly available video game system. Despite being the first, it was never the most successful. Its star of success was almost immediately eclipsed by the Atari company’s Pong machine and every knock off of said console which followed.

In addition to all that, the Odyssey just flat-out sucked as a video game system.

Sure, Pong didn’t have colour and was just the same game over and over again, the Odyssey was barely programmed. The Odyssey was just a pair of paddles and a barely ball shaped object. No sound, no score, nothing that even resembled a game.

However, it would be harsh to criticise the Odyssey on its crudeness. It sucks, but it only sucks because it was the first.

9. Philips CD-I

There are some that would want to see this console listed higher on here, but honestly I just don’t have the heart to hate too much on the Philips CD-I. The CD-I was never intended to be a console in the first place. It was in fact a multi-purpose multimedia device which was intended to run educational software and movies released on Video-CDs, the precursor of the DVD.

Sadly, Philips found out the hard way that nobody wanted such a product and so turned to game production in 1993. The CD-I was original conceived as a CD add-on for the SNES which never came to fruition. Philips snagged the rights to produce itself a Mario game and three Zelda games, all of which have far exceeded the system itself in notoriety.

To be fair, the CD-I had a few solid titles on it as well, like The 7th Guest and Burn Cycle – but the system’s complete invisibility in the market is what eventually killed the system. Philips failed to convince the general market and third party developers that the CD-I was a serious gaming platform.

8. Nokia N-Gage

In 2003, The Finnish cell-phone company Nokia tried its hand in the realm of hand-held gaming with Nokia N-Gage. The system was met with almost instant rejection as the phone/hand-held console stumbled its way on to the long list of systems that had their asses handed to them by Nintendo’s long line of handhelds.

Despite some genuine support from third-party developers, the N-Gage’s idiotic design was its final downfall. The battery had to be removed in order to change games and many people found the layout inconvenient for playing games with.

Despite a far more ergonomic redesign in the form of the N-Gage QD, the N-Gage was finally pulled off the market in 2005. Though Nokia had every reason to believe it had a future in the handheld market, considering the growing popularity of mobile gaming, they proved themselves incapable of designing a system which people actually wanted to play.

7. Atari Lynx

In 1989, the handheld market was born in earnest with the emergence of three handhelds. Only one of them would go on to great success and that one system was definitely not Atari’s Lynx. The Atari company, which almost singlehandedly killed off the video-game industry in 1984, made a modest return to gaming with their 1987 release of the Atari 7800. Unable to compete with the NES, they moved to handheld gaming with the intent of blowing Nintendo’s young Game Boy system out of the water.

Lynx had one feature over the Game Boy: it was the world’s very first colour handheld. It also had one major disadvantage: it wasn’t compact even in the kindest definition of the word.

Apart from being nearly three times bigger than its competing system, it was also clunky and didn’t even have a backlit monitor which made playing games notoriously hard. Atari killed off the Lynx almost immediately when it realised that the Game Boy was on its way to handheld dominance.

6. Sega Game Gear

Another challenger of the Game Boy, the Sega Game Gear was far better equipped to fight Nintendo’s monochrome system for handheld dominance. Sonic the Hedgehog was right around the corner and the system had a back-lit colour display, almost a decade before the Game Boy Colour. What then caused the Game Gear to fail?

Much like the Lynx, which was released before it, the sophisticated technology unfortunately made the Game Gear quite large and heavy. Though not nearly as excessively big as the Lynx, it was still almost twice as big as a regular Game Boy.

However, the Game Gear’s real problem was that it ate batteries like no tomorrow. With its regular set of four AA batteries, the Game Boy was capable of providing 10 hours of uninterrupted gameplay. The Game Gear required six and only provided half the gameplay time of the Game Boy.

5. 3DO

Trip Hawkins, former CEO of Electronic Arts and major douchebag, formed the 3DO company in the early 1990s in order to create a console that would kill off both the SNES and Sega Mega Drive. The only thing Hawkins killed was his own reputation and his own company.

Now, once again, the 3DO wasn’t a bad video-game system in and of itself. It had no regional lock-out which was a very liberal attitude for a games company to have. It did have fairly respectable performance for a 32-bit console and it even had some classic titles to its name like Star Control II, Wing Commander and Gex among others.

What was ultimately the 3DO’s undoing was its ridiculous retail price of 600 USD, making it effectively the most expensive console in history. Hawkins’ reasoning for the system’s high price was that he considered the 3DO more a high-end multimedia device rather than just a video-game console. Well, a video-game console might have actually made him some profit…

4. Atari 5200

By the early 1980s, Atari was looking to get a leg-up on their competition as consoles like Intellivision and Colecovision were coming to challenge their dominance in the video-game market. The Atari 5200 was designed as the official follow-up to Atari’s hugely successful 2600.

On the offset, the 5200 looked solid. It had performance equal to its major competitors. It had the game catalogue to match and best of all, was backwards compatible with all 2600 games, so that people didn’t have to get rid of their old Ataris just to buy the new one.

There was just one problem. The 5200 had a defective joystick. It’s baffling how a company as big as Atari was capable of such a major-league production screw-up. Needless to say, the 5200 never took over from the 2600 as the official follow-up and became the first in a long line of upcoming Atari train wrecks.

3. Gizmondo

Gizmondo is another hand-held disaster and this time with a heavy emphasis on disaster. It was a system that no-one wanted, which barely had any third-party support and which just had a really, really dumb name.

Adding insult to injury, the system actually came in two models. The cheaper one played advertisements before allowing you to play games, the more expensive model was ad-free.

What solidifies Gizmondo’s utter failure as a console is the company’s effective self-destruction and ruination of their worthless reputation by entanglements with the Swedish mafia and a horrendous car accident involving the company’s CEO, a Ferrari and a telephone pole.

2. Nintendo Virtual Boy

It would be difficult to believe Nintendo would have ever put out a bad console, but the Virtual Boy is pretty incriminating in this regard. Released in 1996, in preparation for the arrival of the Nintendo 64, the Virtual Boy was an utter mess of a system.

First of all, for a hand-held system, the console wasn’t even handheld. It came with its own separate controllers. Secondly, the games were all in monochrome black and red, a bad and nauseating choice of colours for a supposed 3D handheld. Third and most nauseating of all was the fact that the game had an unfortunate side-effects to playing it for a long time: head-aches, eyestrain and, well, nausea.

The only good thing about the Virtual Boy was that Nintendo realised their mistake soon enough and the system was pulled off the market in less than a year.

1. Atari Jaguar

The Atari Jaguar is not only the worst console ever made, it’s also a pack of lies. It can be called a lot of things but certainly not a 64-bit system like it claimed to be. In truth, the Jaguar was a very rudimentary 32-bit system with additional components to allow 3D graphics to be rendered twice as fast to prevent slow-ups which was a big problem during the early history of 3D gaming. This is why the company thought it could be marketed as a 64-bit console.

The Jaguar was not only irrelevant, it also had a horribly mediocre and uninspired catalogue of games. Adding insult to injury, it also had the most horrendous controller of all time. Aside the typical D-Pad and face-buttons it also came with a numeric keypad, a horrid relic of early 1980s gaming on an early 1990s system.

The Jaguar just flat out sucked and the defiance of the company heads and their insistence on its superiority to every console out at the time, from the Super Nintendo to Sega Saturn was more tragically hilarious than awe-inspiring.