The last three decades of the 20th century were a hard time if you weren’t Nintendo, Sony, Sega, or Atari. While the monster consoles dominated the market, several young hopefuls tried their hand in the console arena and were crushed under the weight of their competition.
It was pretty ballsy to advertise your game console as a “Playstation-killer” in the 90s. Sony was being praised globally for its console debut, and was beginning its reign in the market. However that’s just what 3DO and Panasonic promised fans when their 1996 system was in the works. The console was conceived by EA founder Trip Hawkins and premiered at E3 1996. After creators realised what they faced in their competitors and took a look at their release price however, the machine was cancelled by 1997. The name was handed to Matsushita who subsequently buried the system (figuratively, they even lacked the dramatic showmanship of Atari). Though the system was never publicly available, development kits and prototypes are sought after today.
In Sega’s heyday, everyone wanted a slice of the Sonic pie. JVC sought a license from them to produce a Genesis hybrid, and the resulting console, the Wondermega, sank under the anchor of its $800 retail price. JVC essentially paid Sega to compete with them. Fighting on against poor sales, and even poorer business plans, JVC released a second version of the console which cut back on audio features and implemented wireless controllers – neat for the time but still a doomed venture.
Many only know the Mega Jet console as the inspiration for the fated Sega Genesis Nomad handheld console. The story of the Mega Jet however is far more interesting than that of its mainstream predecessor. The portable Genesis model was created for an airline company in Japan, to be implemented onboard their flights via a screen in the arm of passenger chairs. The consoles were rented for the flight, with users bringing their own Genesis cartridges from home, or choosing from a reported selection of 4 titles carried onboard. Japan Air Lines utilised the console, an integrated system and controller handset on their longer flights. The Mega Jet went commercial for a few years before the Nomad built on its system considerably, however very few were sold outside of Japan and so they’ve become a prized collector’s item today.
The original Apple Pippin platform was a grey shell over a rudimentary version of Apple’s OS. Bandai was brought in to look at the project, and took over a subsequent release, forming what is known today as the Apple Bandai Pippin. They stripped the operating system and planned for the machine to run as a game console. The Atmark name was then used to market the resulting catastrophe to Japan, while in the US and Europe it was known as the @WORLD. Around 40,000 systems were sold before the line was discontinued after some serious production failures and shortages. It didn’t help that Apple pretty much left their creation at Bandai’s doorstep and fled into the night, offering no assistance with the marketing of the product. Very few titles were therefore released for the console, which was already set back by its $600 price tag.
This 32-bit console was sold exclusively in Japan and was targeted at young female gamers on release in 1995. The gimmicky system featured a built in colour printer that was able to print screenshots onto stickers. Because the only reason girls would buy a video game console was if it made cute shinies right? Ugh. A grand total of 10 titles reached the Casio Loopy console, and it was shelved almost instantly.