Forgotten Game Consoles of the ’90s
If you were a console gamer in the early ’90s, you probably had either a Super Nintendo Entertainment System or a Sega Genesis. And if you were a gamer in the late ’90s, you probably had a Nintendo 64 or a Sony PlayStation. But there were other systems out there. Here’s a few most of us have forgotten.
Most remember Atari as the dominant player in the ’70s and ’80s who brought video-gaming out of the arcade and into the living room. Few remember, though, that they tried to survive the ’90s console wars with their own 64-bit system.
But that last part isn’t true. The Atari Jaguar actually had two 32-bit chips, so it wasn’t a true 64-bit system. On top of that, it never had a great game library, so most former Atari customers gave this system a pass.
Many ’80s gamers used the Commodore 64. However, many didn’t even know of its successor, the C64GS—that is, the Commodore 64 Games System. It was an 8-bit system in the 32-bit era, and it came with an old-school joystick controller. But gamers weren’t really nostalgic for the 8-bit era, so it failed.
This was the follow-up console to the Sega Genesis. Sega mistakenly thought that customers wanted more of the same—that is, arcade ports and 2D side scrollers, just bigger and better. However, Nintendo brought out the N64 and showed the world 3D graphics, leaving Sega scrambling to compete. Which they did with the Sega Dreamcast, which isn’t a forgotten console but an underrated gem.
Technically an add-on to the Sega Genesis and not a true console in its own right, the 32X was meant to beef up the capabilities of the Genesis until their new console, the Saturn, was ready. And they told that to everyone. So everyone decided to just wait for the Saturn.
Okay, what about a game console that also plays movies and its own games and TurboGrafx-16 games and Sega Genesis games? Okay, the only thing is that it relies on laser discs . . . hey, where are you going?
A handheld device with a silly name, the Game.com played games but also had utilities like a calculator, address book, and calendar. Basically, it was a PDA that played Tetris. We think. We were never actually dorky enough to try one.
A machine that played games and connected to the internet, the Philips CD-i has the distinction of being one of the few consoles that had Zelda games not released on Nintendo consoles. They weren’t very good, but that’s still a fun piece of trivia for you.
If you saw a 3D0, you probably saw a Panasonic, GoldStar, or Sanyo logo on it. That’s because 3D0 licenced their product to other electronics producers who’d make their own. This didn’t bring prices down though. You’d have to shell out a massive $700 (in NINETIES DOLLARS!) for one of these. And it didn’t have that many games. Not a great plan.
Apple Bandai Pippin
Apple’s answer to the console wars, developed with Bandai, came with painting programs, trivia challenges, and access to the web. In many ways, it was a precursor to the kind of multimedia devices we expect our modern consoles to be. But it didn’t make much sense back then and didn’t have a great gaming library, so it was yet another product that helped make Apple a bit of a punchline back in the ’90s. Funny how things change, isn’t it?