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.