Top 10 Worst Videogame Systems Ever! (

By:Tim Janson
Date: Wednesday, July 18, 2012

If you’re under, say the age of 25 or so, it must seem like you are living in the Golden Age of videogames.  After all, we are now into 17 years of successful Playstation systems, 11 years of the Xbox, and Nintendo has been cruising along with the N-64, Game Cube, Wii, and DS.  Sure the systems might not be perfect.  The original Xbox had its infamous Red Ring of Death, the Wii can set you back hundreds for all the additional peripherals, but they have all enjoyed tremendous success.  Such was not always the case.  It was not that long ago, only 15 – 20 years that when you bought a new game system, you were gambling with your money.  You might have spent a few hundred bucks on a new system only to find a few months later that you had one very expensive doorstop or paperweight.  The stability of today’s game systems is unparalleled in the history of the business.  It’s almost impossible to even conceive that a new player might want to throw their hat into the ring and try to develop a new system.  
We all know today that companies lose money on the hardware and make money on the software as well as licenses to third-party game developers.  But the time was that it seemed everyone wanted to make their own systems.  In this list we are going to look at some of the worst and least successful systems ever unleashed on a not wary enough gaming audience.  It’s important to note that “worst” doesn’t necessarily mean the game system was bad.  A few of these systems were actually pretty good but they failed for a variety of reasons such as the inability to attract third-party developers or pricing themselves out of the market with the cost of their system.  So lets take a not so fond look at some of those systems that may be gathering dust somewhere, but are probably worth a pile of cash on eBay!
Sega 32X (Released in 1994) – The Sega Genesis was one of the most successful game systems ever made and competed head to head with Nintendo’s SNES for several years as the two battled for 16 bit supremacy.  In 1994 Sega introduced the 32X as a $159  add-on peripheral that connected to the top of the Genesis to allow for 32 bit game play.

Why it failed.    Sega shot themselves in the foot.  A mere 6 months after the 32X was released Sega released the 32 bit Saturn system.  Game developers didn’t want to develop games for both systems so they quickly abandoned the 32X in favor of the Saturn.  The unit was discontinued less than a year after its release. 


Atari Lynx (Released in 1989) – Atari’s handheld game system was quite innovative.  It was the first handheld system that featured a color LCD as well as a backlit display.  For its day its graphics were unmatached.


Why it failed.  The Game Boy.  Released the same year, Nintendo’s handheld only had monochrome graphics but has a price of $90 that was half of the price of the Lynx.  The Lynx never managed to attract quality third-party titles and despite a re-design and price drop, the Lynx only sold about 5 million units compared to over 100 million Game Boys. 

Sega Nomad (Released 1995) – It seemed like a great idea.  Sega would take its most successful game system, and essentially make a handheld portable version and call it the Nomad.  It allowed gamers to play all their old Genesis cartridges.  Great Right?  Wrong!


Why it Failed.  First off the battery life was horrible.  Batteries lasted an hour if you were lucky and took 6 AA’s to power it.  Its $180 price tag was double the Game Boy price.  And by 1995, gamers were done with 16 bit games and systems.  The Nomad sold only one million units.


Atari 5200 (Released 1982) – The 5200 was the follow up to Atari’s hugely successful 2600 console which was system that birthed the first videogame explosion.  The 5200 boasted superior graphics to both the 2600 and Mattel’s Intellivision.  


Why it failed.  Despite the fact that it was technically superior to the Intellivision and the ColecoVision, those systems had huge advantages in terms of games.  Atari made the mistake of initially not making the 5200 compatible with 2600 games.  An adapter came out in 1983 but by then it was too late.  The new 5200 seemed to be merely weak ports of 2600 titles and the system suffered from poorly designed controllers.  Atari dumped it in favor of the new 7800 after less than two years on the market. 


Phillips CD-I (Released 1991) – The CD-i was designed to be a true multimedia unit as opposed to a simple videogame console.  The unit was capable of playing CD-i discs, Audio CDs, CD+G (CD+Graphics), Karaoke CDs, and VCDs.  


Why it Failed.  Where to begin!  As a game system it made a fine CD player but not much else.  The unit was priced at a staggering $700 making it more than double the price of a PS3 today.  It had some of the worst games ever produced including Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon and Hotel Mario.  Its controllers were some of the worst ever designed.  Only around a half million units were ever sold.

Atari Jaguar (Released 1993) – With Atari’s name popping up so many times on this list I think you can see why they finally got out of the console business.  The Jaguar was the first true 64-bit gaming system and produced some very good titles like Aliens Vs. Predator and Wolfenstein 3D.  


Why it Failed.  The Sony Playstation.   Despite touting itself as a 64-bit system, the Jaguar’s Motorola 68000 CPU executed a 32-bit instruction-set but had a 64-bit graphic co-processor.  Even Atari admitted at the time it was not as powerful as the Playstation.  The Jaguar’s poor sales caused third-party developers to back off in favor of Sony’s new system as well as Sega’s Dreamcast.  In addition, the Jaguar had a weird, clumsy keypad controller that was overly complex.  The Jaguar was discontinued within two years after selling only 250,000 units. 


The 3DO (Released 1993) – Are you beginning to see what I meant by the gaming scene 15 – 20 years ago?  The 3DO was yet another epic failure.  Originally produced by Panasonic and later Sanyo, the 3DO touted impressive technical specs. It came with 2 MB of DRAM, 1 MB of VRAM, and a double speed CD-ROM.  The 3DO included the first light synthesizer in a game console.


Why it failed.  Price!  It’s $700 price tag simply priced it out of the market for the average gamer.  3DO offered a tiny royalty fee to third party developers but this resulted in a much higher retail price tag.  Remember…make a profit on software, not hardware!  Even a $300 price drop in 1994 could not save the system and it was discontinued in 1996 having sold around two million units.



Nintendo Virtual Boy (Released 1995) – The Virtual Boy is proof that not everything Nintendo touches turns to gold.  The VB was supposed to be the first 3D system creating a virtual reality environment.  The odd system came with a viewer that you put your eyes up to like binoculars and a standard gaming controller.


Why it Failed.  Because it plain sucked that’s why.  The red monochrome wireframe graphics were terrible and playing it for extended periods generally led to a migraine headache.  Yeah, that’s a lot of fun.  Only 22 games were ever made for the system. It was in bargain bins within a few months and was discontinued a mere seven months after its release, selling less than a million units.   


Tiger Gizmondo (Released 2005) – What?  You never heard of the Gizmondo?  Small wonder as only about 25,000 units of this handheld gaming system were ever sold.  This odd system had two prices: $400 or $229.  The lower price system meant you had to put up with advertisements popping up on the screen several times per day via the built in GPRS connection.


Why it Failed.  How could it not?  A ridiculous price point and only 8 games were ever released.  On top of that one of Tiger’s key executives turned out to be the boss of a Swedish organized crime group.  Tiger declared bankruptcy in 2006.


Apple Pippin (Released 1995) – The Pippin was designed by Apple (and is essentially a McIntosh computer and will run Mac software) and produced by Bandai who wanted to get into the console wars.  It has a 4X speed CD drive, expandable memory capability, and support for NTSC and PAL composite, S-Video and VGA monitors.


Why it failed.  Bandai tried to market it as an inexpensive computer to warrant its $600 price tag but they were not fooling anyone.  It was a game system that had no games other than what Bandai produced on their own and it crashed and burned when up against the Playstation, Dreamcast, and N64.  Less than 50,000 Pippins were ever sold.