Virtually Forgotten: The 5 Worst Gaming Consoles

Time takes a toll on all things. As the video game industry has developed into a cash cow (the industry will hit $70 billion by 2015, according to, technology developed with it. Eight-bit consoles gave way to more advanced processors, which eventually led to 3-D graphics, online gaming and the robust modern gaming market we know and love today. Before you could see the stubble on a virtual soldier’s chin, gamers struggled to keep track of Mario as he descended into a warp pipe. And before gamers connected with each other throughout the world, frustrated players blew into game cartridges to remove dust.

We’ve come a long way. Take a walk down (not enough) memory lane and swear off the worst gaming consoles of all time.

1. Sega 32X

Gamers flocked to livings rooms to play Sonic the Hedgehog, NBA Jam and Street Fighter on Sega Genesis in the early ’90s. With Nintendo and others challenging, Japanese developers rushed to produce an updated console, but worried about alienating Genesis fans. The result was the Sega 32X, an add-on console the plugged into the Genesis and promised better graphics. Instead of raising the bar, the 32X confused gamers and faded into obscurity upon Sega’s next release, Saturn.

2. Nokia N-Gage

Game Boy dominated the hand-held gaming market at the turn of the millennium, but with cell phones rising in popularity, mobile provider Nokia saw a chance to compete. N-Gage was the first handheld device to offer fully 3-D games, according to, but that’s about all it did right. Poor graphics, controls, screen quality and games doomed N-Gage. It looked more like a credit card processing terminal than a handheld gaming device. Maybe Capital Processing Network could revive it to help businesses, but gamers abandoned Nokia’s handheld system long ago.

3. Phillips CD-i

Eventually, gaming made the jump from cartridges to CD-roms, but the Phillips CD-i didn’t do much to help the cause. Released in 1991, the CD-i played games, education software and music. At $700, however, it was too expensive to gain a following and entice developers. The few games that were available were poor quality compared to Nintendo and Sega. Even three games in the Legend of Zelda franchise couldn’t attract gamers. High cost and low value is a recipe for disaster, and the CD-i had both.

4. Tiger R-Zone

Users remember R-Zone for its ridiculous head gear, but it was actually a set of three devices. R-Zone’s claim that it had a color screen was a stretch at best and a bold-faced lie in reality. It shined a light through an transparent cartridge to project a barely-identifiable image. Nintendo’s Virtual Boy gets most of the attention for worst head gear console of all time, but R-Zone lowered the bar.

5. Atari Jaguar

The virtual arms race of the early nineties prompted Atari to release a 64-bit console dubbed Jaguar. Its competition was delivering just 16 bits, so Atari knew Jaguar had an opportunity to stand out. It didn’t. Games looked the same as Genesis titles and performed worse. Gamers would have to wait until Nintendo 64 to play a real 64-bit console, and Atari failed to define itself as anything more than the creators of Pong.