Many games consoles have come and gone over the years. Some have become classics, fondly remembered by the players, and others were so bad that they’ve become cult classics despite the best efforts of the company that made them to brush them under the rug.
During this time of console plenty, it was fair to say that with nearly every monthly issue of the current gaming magazines there was an advert for a new games console. Now while most of the consoles sold during this time were fantastic, and a generational leap from the previous models on offer, there were some that fell short and some that were outright bonkers. Here’s some of our favourite worst games consoles of all time.
Following a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013, the Ouya was supposed to become the new console that embraces a level of freedom the main players don’t offer.
Running on a modified version of Android, the Ouya allowed gamers to side-load games, emulators and other apps and play content via its cleverly designed controller; it also only cost around £100 for a small box with a lot of potential.
Sadly, this never came to pass. The Ouya’s library of games was extremely poor, and there was limited development for the sort of games for Android that more traditional consoles had to offer. Although there’s an abundance of good Android games available, they’re still not the kind of content you’d find on the likes of a Xbox or Switch. However, it must be said that the Ouya was a superb emulator.
Anyway, the Ouya was eventually sold to Razer in 2015, and finally dropped from gaming culture shortly after.
The Nintendo Switch is a great modern console, combining all the best elements of a static TV console and handheld, mobile gaming platform. However, its concept is hardly new.
Back in the mid-nineties, Sega released the Nomad to the US gaming public. The Nomad was basically a portable version of the Sega Mega Drive with the added ability of being able to connect to a traditional TV setup. Its 3.25-inch backlit colour screen was great, but the six double-A batteries needed to power it managed an on-paper lifespan of two hours – when in reality, it could be as low as half an hour.
Poor support from Sega meant the Nomad was doomed to fail, and with some problems with the hardware and compatibility with Mega Drive games, combined with a high price, meant that Nomad’s time in gaming circles was short.
Apple was never a company you would associate with gaming, in fact Steve Jobs categorically didn’t want Apple products to be characterised as gaming platforms. However, the success of Sony’s PlayStation drew the attention of the Cupertino company, and as such a partnership with Bandai produced the bizarre lovechild that was the Apple Pippin.
The Pippin, or PiPP!N as it was marketed as, was designed primarily as a home telecommunications device and games console second. It essentially was a gaming version of the Macintosh platform, with a wealth of connectivity around the rear of the device, a CD-ROM to the front and wireless controllers. On paper, it was all good, but a very high introduction price and a severe lack of games brought the Pippin to its knees, and forced Apple to bin the project altogether.
Nintendo Virtual Boy
You may think that everything Nintendo touches turns to gold, and the modern, younger gamer can be forgiven for taking that on. The Wii, even the Wii U, and the Switch are all great consoles, but it wasn’t always a bed of roses for Nintendo.
For those of you not old enough to remember the mid-nineties, VR was once again becoming the future of gaming. Indeed, the Occults Rift, Vive and so on aren’t new technologies. With VR having appeared in the 80s, disappearing, then reappearing in the 90s, Nintendo decided to make the jump on to the VR bandwagon in 1995 with the Virtual Boy.
This torturous headset was supposed to herald in a new era of gaming, instead the poor monochromatic display, awful 3D effects and painful head gear turned the players away and was the nail in the coffin for VR until more recent times.
An expensive unit, the Nintendo Virtual Boy managed to sell 750,000 units but vanished from the shelves within the same year it was released.
Released in 1993, the Atari Jaguar was marketed as the world’s first 64-bit console; a noble claim in a world of 16-bit platforms. However, in reality, it utilised a pair of 32-bit processor with an accelerated 64-bit graphics system GPU, which made it very difficult to develop for.
The hardware, although impressive, was littered with bugs, and as such the console never really picked up pace. The poor games library, poor hardware designs in terms of the controllers, and sales that meant developers and Atari wouldn’t make any money from the Jaguar finally drove the unit into the ground.
In fact, the failure of the Jaguar was the contributing factor for Atari pulling out of the hardware market, a place where it had existed since the 70s.
1987 saw the release of the Worlds of Wonder Action Max, a game console like no other. This unique system utilised VHS tapes, and required the user to have their own VHS player – since the Action Max didn’t have the capability to load VHs tapes itself.
It worked by connecting the console to the VHS player along with a sensor and light gun. The player would then play one of the VHS game tapes and shoot objects that appeared on the screen. And that’s about it. In all, there only five game tapes ever made for the Action Max, which makes it one of the most impressively bad games consoles of all time.
There are many poor games consoles out there, some from a time when games consoles were beginning to form (back in the 70s), other from more modern times. The above list are our top picks, but here’s some noteworthy mentions for you to loo up:
RCA Studio ii
3DO Interactive Multiplayer
Tiger Telematics Gizmondo
Got any more that you think were utterly bad? Let us know in the comments box below.