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The Top 7... Consoles that never were

Created by: VM Labs

Intended for release: 1998

The hope: As its name suggests, Project X was kept under tight wraps for years - but for all the secrecy, people still knew enough to be interested. As the creation of Atari veterans from the Jaguar days, the console was surrounded by a low, constant buzz, as well as plenty of rumors that it was vaporware. Almost nothing was revealed until January of 1998, when a few tidbits of information were announced: Project X would be cheap and easy to develop for, it was gathering interest from third-party developers, it would be manufactured by several different companies and it would launch in 1998 with six games. Naturally, VM Labs expected it to sell millions of units in its first year.

The reality: Shortly after the announcement of VM Labs' plans for the console came the announcement that it wouldn't be a console at all. Instead, Project X was pared down to the Nuon, a chip that enabled specially enhanced DVD players to play games and do cool things like zoom in during movies. It was enough to make a lot of gamers lose interest, although a few big names, including Capcom and Activision, seemed to like what they saw.

 
Above: Sigh. At least it had the best version of Dragon's Lair, for what that's worth

Why it never saw life: Technically, Project X did see life - just not as a dedicated game machine, and not for very long. If you think about it, though, the plan made good business sense; why pay to crank out a bunch of consoles when you can create a single chip and have other companies shoulder the manufacturing and distribution costs? Unfortunately for VM Labs, though, the first Nuon players weren't released until 2000, which put them into direct competition with the PlayStation 2. And while Nuon was a little-known line of enhanced DVD players that could play a few games, the PS2 was a game machine with monster brand recognition that could play DVDs. Poof, fizzle, cry, etc.

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15 comments

  • Predreus - December 29, 2012 5:31 p.m.

    Oh man, I was at E3 in 2004 and walked into the Phantom booth just in time to see one blue screen while someone was playing Madden. It was just a modified Windows box is all.
  • Zetabyte - April 6, 2011 5:32 a.m.

    Wha!?? No Bandai/Apple Pippin? Amiga CD32!? NO NINTEDO DD64!?!?!? No Worries, i'll just assume those would have been 8,9, and 10.
  • thefreakysurgeon - March 7, 2011 12:54 a.m.

    i always find the whole deal with Nintendo and Sony and the SNES CD to be very interesting and i always love reading about it.
  • talkraider - December 29, 2010 4:17 a.m.

    Sorry phantom, onlive beat you to the punch
  • fartinapot - July 23, 2010 5:48 p.m.

    that sucks. it looks like the phantom could have been a big hit. I wonder how popular the phantom would've been if it was released?
  • Strangleme - May 11, 2010 9:04 p.m.

    Amazing article!! I never knew the whole story behind the Nintendo/Playstation drama.
  • AFilthyIbis - October 24, 2008 8:44 a.m.

    Nope. We shant be having thatbehaviour here. Away with you hail56790 and your "first". "reported"
  • wiigamer024 - June 23, 2009 1:39 p.m.

    Nintendo, and Sony worked TOGETHER?!? Holy shiz! were was I, under a rock? I'm glad THAT was never relesed.
  • Hypershadic - May 17, 2009 1:16 a.m.

    You know a few of these could possibly have made it but you know what I don't really know that much so hell thats it....
  • AA95mp - January 3, 2009 8:10 p.m.

    it's a pity about a lot of these consoles they might of actually done well (but probaly not.)
  • d3athcr4ft - September 6, 2009 2:18 a.m.

    The Phantom sounds pretty much like the new OnLive system that is scheduled for release later this year. It remains to be seen if OnLive will actually hit the market, although it does seem to be much further along than the Phantom ever was.
  • scatterlaser - June 26, 2009 10:26 p.m.

    The phantom had potential but if it was released eventually or a consel based on the same idea it would have serious competition with xbox live and the more established download services e.g. steam,wii shopping channel,psn.
  • kurkosdr - January 7, 2009 8:56 p.m.

    @AA95mp EXCUSE ME?? Specifically WHAT on these list could have done well?? -->All of the systems on this list were a prime example of 1)Overpricing 2)Incompetence 3)Useless features 4)Shitty games 5)Inability to understand the market and what customers want. -The Gizmondo2 would never stand a chance next to the PSP, even with it's (lets call it a) camera. - The ProjectX... not a console, a useless feature tucked in overpriced DVD players. Answer to your self: Can the dedicated hardware of a standaalone DVD player run proper games? -The Indrema L600. An attempt to make a product (and games), out of the work that hobbist no-pay programmers did during their free time. Which, by the way, should have to compete with consoles designed by a thousand of paid engineeres. And games made by big-ass companies, which can afford to pay an army of programmers, artists and graphics designers. Does tux racer count as a game? Probably. As a competent racing game? No effing way! Sorry open source fans, this works only on OSes, browsers and media players -Neptune: Another effort from SEGA to tranform their 16-bit fossil into a modern console. Or in other words "our accounting department said that making a new console would be too expensive, so lets try to upgrade the stuff we already have". Losers! Answer to your self: Can you turn a 16bit system into a modern powerhouse, without making the programming process for it a pain in the ass? Impossible. Good for SEGA to aknowlegde their mistake. It saved them years of life. -M2: When you have made a console that will cost as much as a professional multimedia platform, you know you 've gone the wrong way. Look what happened to Sony and their PS3 powerhouse. Look how successfull the underpowered (but cheap and full of games), the SNES and PSOne were. Period. -Super Nintendo CD: For those who didn't get it the first time... you can't upgrade a fossil. -Phantom: Eh... Hem... can't an average user do the exactly same by assembling a media center PC??? In case you didn't noticed, this was exactly what the phantom would have been. A media center PC with a fancy video card. The idea of downloadable games (the ancestor of Steam) was a good idea, but I doubt if infinium could have pulled this out. Too much aggreements with too much game companies, by a small company. Impossible
  • kurkosdr - January 1, 2009 1:27 p.m.

    Altough it's not exactly a console... Any post-G350 video card from Matrox capable of running games even from it's era fast.

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