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The 10 worst consoles ever

Home videogame consoles have been around for well over 30 years now, and in an industry that moves this fast, that means a lot of wreckage left smoldering by the side of the road. A lot. Those of us who follow the console-gaming industry tend to view the last three decades as a race between companies like Atari, Nintendo, Sega, Sony and Microsoft, but in fact they've just been the last ones left standing - for every one of their successes, there's about five or six other consoles and companies that were almost immediately abandoned and forgotten.

Some of those were just unlucky, but most of them flat-out suck. Whether they were cynical attempts to cash in on a perceived trend, misguided turd-missiles designed by companies that knew nothing about games or just plain bad, they were all quickly rejected by gamers and failed in short order. Over the next few pages, we'll take a look at the most thorough failures - the ones whose crappy hardware, games and management doomed them from the start - while counting down to what is genuinely the most awful and unappealing game console of all time. Brace for horror.
10. Virtual Boy

Year: 1995

Culprit: Nintendo

US launch price: $179.99

What it would cost today (based on inflation): $249.29

Sucks because: The Virtual Boy may be the easy target that everyone picks on, but it's for excellent reasons: Its promise of "virtual reality" amounted to little more than 3D-ified Game Boy graphics, which were presented in eye-straining black-and-red. Its failure at market meant that only a handful of titles were even made for it. Prolonged use usually meant everything would look reddish for several minutes after you put it aside, and there was really only one comfortable way to play it: lying on your back, with the bipod resting on your chest and the goggles squishing your nose.

Factor in the relatively high price tag, competition from the then-new PlayStation and Saturn (along with anticipation for Nintendo's own N64) and the fact that most of its titles were really just 2D games with 3D visual effects, and it's no wonder the thing flopped. It's also frequently blamed for indirectly causing the death of one of the game industry's greatest inventors, Gunpei Yokoi, who died in a car accident a few years after his red-and-black monster's failure at market compelled him to leave Nintendo.

Above: AAAAAIIGH IT BURNS

Yes, the Virtual Boy had a few great games. But so do all terrible consoles, as you'll see in a moment.

Best game: Virtual Boy Wario Land

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26 comments

  • TE5LA - August 25, 2013 11:25 a.m.

    The Jaguar was not a bad system. Did you own one? The graphics were very good for the time. If you're going to compare it to the Saturn and PlayStation, which used CD-ROM drives, you should compare the Jaguar using its optional CD drive. Apples to apples. Another nice thing about Jaguar games, all the cartridges had battery backup so game scores and progress could be saved.
  • uz_mike222 - August 26, 2009 4:28 a.m.

    i only got three things for this article 1) chainsaw391, DON'T EVER USE CAPS LOCK EVER AGAIN!! I want you to get a knife, stick it under the key and pop that bitch, then cut out the sensor for it. 2) I do agree with nintendroid426, Blu-Ray is just a fancy name for "better" pictures, and the only few things the PS3 has it going for is free internet, some good games, and free internet. other than that, the PS3 is just a horrible abomination. six-axis thumb sticks? Blu-Ray? and a $600 price tag? F*** you Sony, go back to making TV's. and 3)very good article, i applaud you Mikel, keep up the good work.
  • seifer93 - August 22, 2009 5:53 p.m.

    I honestly think that the GameGear deserved an honorable mention in this list. It had all the graphics of the Sega Genesis in a handheld machine only 3/4ths the size of the Genesis!
  • Nintendroid426 - August 21, 2009 1:14 a.m.

    here is one: PS3. games are good (compared to wii)but are and were in low quantity at launch and today, no one needs blue ray, 600 dollar launch price? are u effen kidding me? why have online and music when i can have my computer go online and listen to music on my ipod????
  • Blackbird - August 20, 2009 6:05 p.m.

    Aaaah... Ahhh... my brain actually hurts... AaaaAAAahh!
  • nightrider - August 11, 2009 8:59 p.m.

    what in the world is this
  • InstantThreat - August 10, 2009 3:42 a.m.

    I LOVE MECHANICAL CRABS!!!x]
  • frankmondana - July 31, 2009 11:31 p.m.

    Oh wait, I forgot a few things- -The PC boards were assembled by 4 year-old Indonesian kids with ADHD. - Common components (resistors, capacitors, etc) would change from 1 unit to another because they were bought from surplus dealers. -The unit never had proper UL or ETL listing. They sent a few units that were well built to the labs. They passed but were required to change a few things. They then built a few more that passed but the production units were built as described above. OK, I'm done.
  • platamoose - July 17, 2009 4:30 p.m.

    The Action Max was pretty bad ass, I mean it was bad and it was complete ass.
  • Bloodmeta - July 10, 2009 10:57 a.m.

    Well Gamesradar, You Are Telling The Truth. Plus The N-Gage Kinda Looks Like A Taco On Your Head... WHO WOULD WANT A TACO LOOKING PHONE D:, Plus The CDi Totally Deserves To Be In This List...But The Animation Did Make Hilarious Youtube Poop Videos Like Hayroon Said... So There's The GOOD Side To It XP
  • Hayroon - July 10, 2009 1:47 a.m.

    The Zelda CDI games were crap but they did cause some funny youtube poop
  • TheCommunist - July 9, 2009 5:39 p.m.

    LOLZ! that retarded Legend of Zelda video is the shittiest game I have ever seen...literally the shittiest
  • megarl - September 15, 2009 12:57 a.m.

    in a science text book there is a part about cellphones and the picture was the n gage!
  • darkcloud - September 4, 2009 12:20 a.m.

    uz_mike222. fanboy much?
  • eindatadog - August 27, 2009 9:13 p.m.

    I love the look on the kid's face on the package for the R-Zone. I wonder how much they paid that poor kid to act like this was a video game system.
  • eindatadog - August 27, 2009 8:57 p.m.

    Wow! Something that was hated even more than R.O.B.! This was such a loser, my Atari Jaguar pooped on it.
  • Fionachitauro - August 12, 2009 10:22 p.m.

    Graphics are AMAZING. GTA4 graphics are shit compared to these =D
  • frankmondana - July 31, 2009 11:14 p.m.

    The Gizmondo was every bit as bad as it's remembered. The company I work for had the pleasure of doing some PR work for these clowns prior to the release of the steaming brickshit pile. I was given 3 of these things as well as an unlimited account and all kinds of software and schwag. Very cool right? Benefits of being "on the inside" right? They were great little machines except for a couple of minor glitches. -The sound quality for the "phone" was a little worse than 2 cups attached to a string. -Battery life measured in nanoseconds. -A screen that was only visible standing under an 32-1/2 foot tall oak tree on July 4th, between 12:01 and 12:09PM while zebras raced by singing "staying alive". -Games that made me long for Pong as played on a 9" B/W portable TV with a scratched screen. -The "keyboard" had the tactile feedback and accuracy as a dead hissing cockroach laying on a pile of pigeon shit. -The only screen ever made that would get 1/8" deep scratches while stored in a vacuum chamber. 2 months later I couldn't give these things away. I still have them although I parted out 1 of them to use for a FIRST Robot. This was the only time the hardware from these shitpiles worked. These guys never intended for this thing to be real. It was a scam from the start. Even their final checks (accounting for 80% of the contract total) bounced 2 days after the project ended and we didn't hear from them again. We did think the crash was hysterical (except for trashing a beautiful car that I got to drive once after a meeting)although it would have much funnier if they became paraplegics relying on machines to keep them alive. Machines run, of course, with Gizmondos. Good thing I never hold a grudge.
  • HoudiniWaltz - July 31, 2009 9:14 p.m.

    Where's the Apple Pippin?
  • lorchan - July 31, 2009 7:02 p.m.

    R.I.P. Gunpei Yokoi ;_; He would have been so proud of Metroid these days... He never lived to see it go 3D. (I actually like the Virtual Boy, by the way)

Showing 1-20 of 26 comments

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