The 10 worst consoles ever

Think the 360/PS3/Wii sucks? These overpriced failures will teach you the true meaning of awful

Culprit: Atari

US launch price: $249.99

What it would cost today: $365.18

Sucks because: Look, if you're going to roll out with a console you insist is 64-bit when your competition is rocking a measly 16, then you'd damn well better deliver an experience that blows everything else out of the water. And although the Jaguar was certainly capable of more visual oomph than the Genesis or Super Nintendo, the majority of its games looked and performed like clunkier versions of Genesis titles.

For every game that actually took advantage of what the system could do, like Tempest 2000 or Cybermorph, there were ten stiff, bland, cheap-looking Kasumi Ninjas or Flip Out!s. Even Alien vs. Predator - widely regarded as the system's best game and possessing an impressive amount of depth by the standards of its time - was ugly and slow when compared to older games like Doom.

Above: Yes, this is pretty much how it felt to join Atari's "64-bit" "revolution"

And then there was the controller, a thick lump of ergonomic horror with what amounted to a 12-button telephone keypad at its center. Sometimes that keypad could be useful, as certain games came with plastic overlays for it that made things like switching weapons easy, but most of the time it was an unnecessary hindrance that made the controller unwieldy and confusing.

Overall, it was obvious to anyone who actually played the thing that it wasn't 64-bit; hell, it was barely even half that powerful, as the 32-bit Saturn and PlayStation demonstrated when they stomped onto the scene and curb-jawed the struggling Jaguar two years later.

Best game: Alien vs. Predator

6 N Gage


Year: 2003

Culprit: Nokia

US launch price: $299

What it would cost today: $343.01

Sucks because: Say what you will about the infamous Gizmondo, the other handheld that gamers love to hate, it wasn't quite as bad as it's made out to be. The hardware was OK-ish and the potential for decent gaming was there, but it was marketed and sold by criminal idiotswho knew even less about thegaming market than they did aboutdriving million-dollar cars at high speeds. The N-Gage, meanwhile, was a disastrous hunk of ass from the get-go.

In fairness, the N-Gage was ahead of its time, offering fully 3D games on a handheld a year before the release of the DS, and two years before the PSP. Unfortunately, the hardware wasn't ahead of its time, and every last one of those games was marred by choppy animation, low resolution and - oh yeah - a skinny, vertical cell-phone screen. And awkward face buttons that were actually part of a cell-phone number pad. Because the N-Gage was a cell phone, and marketing it as anything else was Nokia's biggest mistake.

Above: Wait, wait... why do we hate this thing again?

The idea of the N-Gage toppling the then-unstoppable Game Boy Advance was even more laughable in 2003 than it is now, but Nokia seemed confident that just securing a Tomb Raider game for the system would be enough to make it sell. In fact, Nokia doesn't appear to have researched its would-be customers at all, as evidenced by an early ad campaign that was roundly ridiculed for its lame stabs at "Xtreeeeem!!!!"-ness.

Above: Oh, right, that's why. Thank you, former GamesRadar editor Christian Nutt, for showing us the light. And also forstartinga meme

Also, when asked why players had to remove the N-Gage's battery just to pop in a different game card, one Nokia exec replied that mobile phone users in Europe had been used to doing that to swap out SIM cards for years. And that was the key to the whole fiasco: Nokia knew how to sell mobile phones. It didn't know shit about game consoles, games or gamers, and their crapulescent side-talking handheld failed spectacularly as a result. A revamped version, the N-Gage QD, was released in 2004, and although it fixed most of the system's problems, it completely overlooked the one about it and all of its games being awful.

It's worth mentioning that the N-Gage hasn't quite gone away - it's being prepped for another relaunch soon. Except now, instead of a crappy game phone, it'sa service that's essentially Xbox Live for other, better phones. Even if the third time's the charm, though, it won't be easy to shake the stigma ofthe first two.

Best game: Pocket Kingdom

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.

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