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Consoles of the '90s

The '70s were jam-packed with wannabe consoles that failed to make an impression on anyone. The '80s ushered in golden age for gamers, delivering the industry-saving NES and Sega's first major contender, the Genesis/Mega Drive. The '90s proved to be a bit of both eras, with Nintendo and Sega still fighting amidst a graveyard of utterly confusing machines that died quiet, yet expensive deaths. And then, just when it looked like Nintendo could do no wrong and would never relinquish its lead, Sony stepped in and changed gaming forever.

Consoles of the '70s | Consoles of the '80s
Consoles of the '90s | Consoles of the 2000s


Console: Amstrad GX4000
Manufacturer: Amstrad
Discontinued in: ~1990

This epically unheard-of beasty came and went as quickly as you walk from your front door to the mailbox. It's huge, played massive carts and kind of looks like it belongs in a hospital. Even with a version of RoboCop 2 in its library, kids happily ignored it in favor of the SNES and Genesis.

Console: NeoGeo AES
Manufacturer: SNK
Discontinued in: 2004

Think games are expensive now? Imagine shelling out $200 for games that are now readily available on Wii's Virtual Console. The pricey carts kept it from mainstream success, but certain niches adored the system enough to warrant software support well into 2004. This makes NeoGeo one of the most long-lived systems of all time.

Console: TurboGrafx-CD
Manufacturer: NEC
Discontinued in: ~1999

The TG-16 and its many additions (like this CD) never took off in the US or Europe, but the Japanese market was much more attentive to NEC's multimedia plight. There are so many revisions and changes to this basic idea - CD-ROM games - that it's no wonder the console failed to find a large audience. The variants also make it tough to pinpoint exactly when this console went belly up.

Console: TurboExpress
Manufacturer: NEC
Discontinued in: ~1999

A handheld TG-16 that was also famous for its TV Tuner, a device that in 1990 was freaking amazing. Watch TV anywhere? What sort of mad sorcery is this?

Console: Game Gear
Manufacturer: Sega
Discontinued in: 1997

Essentially a portable Master System, Game Gear tried to fend off Game Boy but ultimately faded into nothingness. Partly to blame for its demise were the six AA batteries needed for power that it guzzled like a stretch Hummer with stadium lighting. Strangely enough, it saw a brief resurgence post-2000 through Majesco. The re-issued unit allegedly had a better screen and higher-quality speakers.

Console: Master System II
Manufacturer: Sega
Discontinued in: 1992

A small re-issue of the original Master System, with no card slot or, oddly enough, reset button. Apparently included Alex Kidd in Miracle World as a pack-in game already programmed into the console. It didn't reignite interest in the Master System, so Sega wisely put its efforts behind the Genesis/Mega Drive.

Console: Super Famicom
Manufacturer: Nintendo
Discontinued in: 2000

Easily one of the most revered and popular systems of all time, the SFC/SNES proved Nintendo could lead the market into the next generation and had massively popular games that are still heavily traded on eBay and other markets. While technically slower than the Genesis, its many other advantages (color palette, superior audio, graphics capabilities) helped propel it to an eventual victory.

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14 comments

  • hardcore_gamer1990 - January 1, 2009 11:56 p.m.

    Does anyone else think that the TurboDuo looks like a PS2 slimline with a "quirky" controller? no? just me then...
  • Taxtm - January 3, 2009 9:39 p.m.

    Dude, I actually had a Gamegear way back when! That thing used up so much juice, every time I took it in the car, we'd have to bring a brand new 8 pack of AAs!
  • Fallenangle - January 7, 2009 9:07 a.m.

    Wow, the Master System II was my very first console ( i still have it somewhere) it does have the alex kidd game built in, which was cool to think you could just turn it on and play without taking the Cartridge out and blowing on it. Also is it wrong to have own at least half of these?
  • arcwulf - September 14, 2009 2:31 p.m.

    You neglected to mention that the Tiger Game.com had the absolute worst display of any video game system ever. The graphics were only visable in direct light, and the refresh rate was so bad that any motion graphics whatsoever became blurry green. Also a note about Sega's Genesis and Game Gear: Sega was notorious in the 90s for changing the hardware (which all successful consoles do eventually) to less-than 100% compatibility and not telling anyone (which no one else does - heck even Microsoft released a list of compatible Xbox games for the 360). This is why some earlier games do not work with later releases of the hardware. The Pioneer Laseractive Player (which I am happy to say that I own) also plays "Mega LD" games, only one of which I know of to exist, and sadly I do not own it.
  • Taxtm - January 3, 2009 9:41 p.m.

    Ahh, the Sega Genesis... my first game system at the age of 4, and my first game being Sonic 3. Man, those were the days...
  • AA95mp - January 7, 2009 7:37 p.m.

    i remember my psone i still have it. it was my 1st console
  • dougle - January 22, 2009 8:29 a.m.

    i miss the 90s lol
  • spiderking2009 - July 8, 2009 3:15 a.m.

    wow the PlayStation series is the same age as my
  • abovedefault - September 14, 2008 10:41 a.m.

    holy crap, i had a game.com! i wonder what happened to it...
  • Sukururu - September 24, 2008 10:32 p.m.

    I still remember...I had a Super NES
  • goombaisawesome - November 9, 2008 4:23 a.m.

    I think that you forgot the halycon laserdisc system. But there were only two games, and VERY few sold at the $1000+ Pricetag, so it doesn't matter.
  • barrage7667 - October 15, 2008 12:06 a.m.

    lol im bout to go play my nintendo and genisis tht i havent played in 8 or 9 years
  • garfunkling - February 5, 2011 8:54 a.m.

    I had that exact gameboy color. Loved the look of that see-thru case.
  • PatHan-bHai - April 13, 2013 9:55 a.m.

    The SNES was my first console and the only thing that I played on it was DKC! THEN CAME THE PSOne!!!!! :3

Showing 1-14 of 14 comments

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