Over the last 30 or so years, the video game console market has been dominated by just a few players. We are all familiar with the likes of Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. However, other companies have also tried to get in on the act to various degrees of success. Some of these companies simply left the market in the face of increased competition, as was the case with Sega.
Yet, others failed because of the sheer bizarreness of the products they released. This might have been because they made strange design decisions in an attempt to attract audiences with gimmicks. After all, that’s something even the big three console makers of today have done in the past. Here are the top 10 craziest video game consoles you’ve probably never heard of.
Coleco Telstar Arcade
The Coleco Telstar Arcade was a home system that released in 1976. Unlike other dedicated home consoles, it featured several built-in peripherals to play games. These included a light gun revolver, a steering wheel, and more traditional paddles. Each was placed on a different side of the triangle-shaped console. Developers produced just over a dozen games for the machine as it failed to take off.
View-Master Interactive Vision
What makes the View-Master Interactive Vision so unusual is the bizarre design of the actual console. It looks more like a toy than it does a sophisticated piece of technology. The View-Master Interactive Vision also ran games on VHS tapes and its interactive movies made up much of the marketing appeal. After seeing video footage of a scene, players would make choices about what they wanted to happen next. The console released in 1989 for $120 and featured one of the strangest controllers ever designed.
The Action Max was a 1987 video game console that was largely exclusive to the United States. Users had to attach the system to a VHS player and fix a light sensor on their TV. They could then shoot at targets on the screen to gain points. While it was an interesting concept, it failed to be popular as it could only play one type of game. The fact that there was not much interaction due to the titles being on VHS tapes also limited its appeal.
Casio, the company famous for calculators and digital watches, attempted to cash in on the console business in the 1980s. They released the Casio PV-100 in 1983 and it featured some impressive specifications. However, it had a rather primitive controller as it only had a single joystick and two buttons. Facing stiff competition from the NES and others, Casio pulled it from the market after a few weeks on sale.
Nintendo has never been afraid to experiment with their hardware. In fact, practically every console they have released has included some type of experimental feature. But none have failed quite so spectacularly as the Virtual Boy. Meant to allow players to experience games in 3D, it had very primitive visuals and often caused nausea. Nintendo quietly stopped production after releasing around 20 games in 1995.
The Ouya was supposed to be the future of gaming in 2013. Based on the Android operating system, it would allow players to download cheaper and smaller games. Its tiny size and weight would also make it far more portable than traditional home consoles. However, following a successful Kickstarter campaign, demand for the product soon faded. Financial problems followed for the company and they discontinued the Ouya two years after release.
Before Apple found renewed success with the iPod and iPhone, they struggled to find their place in the technology world. One of their most unsuccessful products was the Apple Pippin in collaboration with Bandai. This was a $599 system based on the Mac operating system. It had a bizarre boomerang-shaped controller and a library of just over 20 games. The company effectively discontinued production in 1997, just a year after it released.
Sega wanted the Nomad to be their answer to Nintendo’s hugely successful Game Boy. Technically, it was a more impressive handheld console. Featuring color screens and specifications to match the Sega Genesis, it released in 1995. Unfortunately, it completely failed to find any real success. A small library of games coupled with the fact it would go through six AAA batteries in just two hours meant it had limited appeal.
Although the Wii popularized motion controls, it was not the first console to utilize them. The XaviXPORT pre-dated Nintendo’s hugely successful platform by two years, releasing in 2004. Using wireless peripherals in the shape of sporting items, players could compete in games such as tennis, bowling, and golf. It failed to sell particularly well due to its small size and basic graphics. It proved unappealing and drastically dropped in price soon after release.
Toy company Mattel designed the HyperScan video game system in 2006. After buying a console and game pack, players would scan in booster cards to unlock special content. Card packs containing additional cards could then be bought in stores, providing access to extra characters, missions, and abilities. Only five games were ever released and poor sales led to the cancellation of further cards.
What is the craziest video game console you ever owned? Sound off in the comments below!