Usually, when a game system is crushed by the competition, it's because it had some major problem(s) that ruined any chance of success. But every once in a while you run into a system that has everything that matters, but still sold poorly. Most of these systems failed because of a lack of major franchises, but sometimes it is merely because of more attractive competitors. But all of these systems failed because of powerful competition, the one thing that has been condemning unable systems since the beginning of the video game industry: tough competition. And now, for the 10 best systems that came under fire from their competitors.

Odyssey^2 was the successor to Magnavox's Odyssey game system, created to compete with the Atari 2600 juggernaut. Needless to say, it never had a chance. Its' weak graphics and sound were bad even in 1978, and nobody wanted a system that had almost no arcade games ported to it. And back in the 70's-80's, you HAD to have arcade games if you wanted your system to succeed. But what O2 lacks in arcade games, it makes up for in exclusive game you can't get on any other system. Anyone who owns an O2 can attest to the quality of games like Pick Axe Pete, a Donkey Kong-esque puzzle/platform game, and UFO, which plays like a cross between Asteroids and Robotron. But despite all that it offered, it's easy to see why the O2 failed. It was a wierd cross between being behind the times (in terms of hardware) and ahead of the times (in terms of games) that didn't go over well with most gamers.

3DO Interactive Multiplayer was a system that was intended to be one of those everything-in-a-box systems, featuring compatibility with audio, video, and photo disks in addition to it's own games. It was marketed as a 32-bit system, backing this claim with ports of popular PC games like DOOM, along with FMV, and primitive 3D titles. But all this came with the astounding price of $699.00, causing many hopeful gamers to shy away to Atari's Jaguar system (which only cost $249.00). The cutting-edge gamers who shelled out the money for 3DO had big expectations for it, but many developers were content to release shamefully bad FMV games. But these were still some gems on the system, like the well-known Alone in the Dark, Need for Speed, and Street Fighter II Turbo. 3DO was indeed a 32-bit system, but what it did best was slick 2D graphics. The disk format allowed for bigger games, meaning more animation and much better sound. But unfortunately, all most people wanted to do with the hardware was interactive FMV games, many of which were mediocre.

N-Gage was quite an innovative handheld, as it wasn't really a game system at all, but rather a cell-phone that played games. It was created to compete with Game Boy Advance, Nintendo's own 32-bit handheld. The original N-Gage was mocked for its' "taco" design, which made it hard to talk into it, and the fact that you had to remove the battery to insert and remove a cartridge. However, the N-Gage QD fixed all these problems. The graphics were 32-bit, and unlike GBA, many games were in full 3D. There were very few games that appeared on both GBA and N-Gage, with most of N-Gage's non-exclusive games being ports of PS2/GC/XBOX games. N-Gage's game selection was indeed small, but sweet. It featured an outstanding version of Splinter Cell 3, along with Ghost Recon: Jungle Storm, Glimmerati, and Snakes, to name a few. But in the public's eyes, it couldn't hold up to GBA (and later the Nintendo DS).

NEC's TurboGrafx-16 was introduced in Amerca in 1989 as a competitor for Sega's Genesis system. It was really just an Americanized version of the popular Japanese PC Engine with a different name. It was billed as the first 16-bit system, although it was really powered by an 8-bit CPU (but the graphics chip was 16-bit), and was the first system to support a CD drive. It failed miserably due to bad marketing by NEC and tough competition from Sega and Nintendo, and was turned over to TTI in 1992. TTI released a streamlined version of the system called Turbo Duo, which had a card slot, CD drive, and save cababilities all in one. Unfortunately, by this time no one cared about TurboGrafx anymore, and it became lost among all the other systems out at the time. But despite being a failure, TG16 had some really great games, like the Bonk series, the multiplayer madness of Bomberman, and lots of quality shooters. Companies like Nintendo haven't forgotten the TG16 though, and you can download many of the best games on Wii Virtual Console.

Atari 7800 was supposed to be the ultimate game system when it was announced in 1984. Everyone was getting excited about the news that Atari was releasing a new 8-bit game system with graphics like no one had seen before. And the best part? It was fully backward compatable with Atari 2600's game library. But it was just too good to be true. That same year (1984, in case you weren't playing attention), Atari came under new management. The new boss, Jack Tramiel, decided that computers were the future, and ditched 7800. Jack would later be forced to eat those words when Nintendo rocked the world with their NES and Super Mario Bros., and in 1986 7800 finally saw the light of day. But by 1986, technology like 7800 was too outdated to make as much of a splash as it did two years prior. But lacking sound and graphical quality could be overlooked if it at least had some of those "new skool" games. But what's that? It DOESN'T!? Yep, all Atari had for themselves was a bunch of refurbished arcade titles and other such "play for score" games. That just didn't cut it in 1986, as Atari soon discovered, and by the time they started to release adventure games like Impossible Mission and Scrapyard Dog it was far too late. In 1990, Atari spat out one last game (Midnight Mutants, which would go down as one of the best 7800 games ever released) before switching support over to the #5 choice on this list. Ironically, the very thing that people mocked 7800 for is the reason it has such a following today. Old school gamers just looking for a spot of arcade action hold up 7800 as one of gaming's lost legends. Not bad, Atari, not bad at all...

Lynx was the exact opposite of Atari 7800. It was the most avanced portable system of its' time, featuring a color display, 16-bit graphics, sprite scaling, 3D graphics capabilities, backlit screen, and ambidextrous control options. Baically, it was everything Game Boy wasn't. But all this incredible power came with the price of $180.00, which was considerably more than Game Boy cost. However, people were saving their money for Atari's new portable system, which would retail just in time for the Christmas season. But Atari managed to shoot themselves in the foot once again, because they didn't make enough Lynx units to satistfy demand, resulting in a limited release. And lack of units meant lack of sales, and that meant a bad start for Lynx. It wasn't until 1991, when Atari release Lynx model 2, that sales picked up. In fact, Lynx did very well in 1991, until Sega released their Game Gear system. After that, Lynx merely languished for several years before dieing completely. Though during this short life, Lynx churned out some undeniably great games, like Chip's Challenge (which is heralded as one of the best puzzle games ever) and Todd's Adventure in Slime World. You can still play all your favorite Lynx games via emulation on PSP.

Saturn was Sega's ill-fated successor to their runaway hit system Genesis, but it never managed to build up enough steam to topple over Nintendo 64 and PlayStation. Like PlayStation, Saturn was a 32-bit system. But that's not the way Saturn was originally intended to be. It was planned to be a really juiced-up 2D system, but Sega later realized that they could never get away with releasing a 2D game system in 1995, when 3D was all the rage. The system's 2D intentions are pretty obvious, with the d-pad controller and general awkwardness the 3D games are cursed with. But complaints aside, Saturn was a darn good system, and it had such player favorites as NiGHTS into Dreams, Sonic Jam, and Shining the Holy Ark, and only the most jaded PlayStation fans could tell you their version of Rayman was better with a straight face.

Yep, a Nintendo system. Gamecube was the only system Nintendo ever made that could be considered a failure (aside from Virtual Boy), but what a great failure it was. Unlike PS2, it was great right from the off, with games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Monkey Ball to back their claims of granduer. Clearly, Nintendo was putting their back into this little Cube. Anc even more clearly, it wasn't enough. Gamecube died with sales of only 25 million, just few enough to be considered a failure. But really, what do numbers matter to the player? As long as the system has plenty of great games, no consumer could care less if everyone else was buying PS2s. And how many people do you know who thing Ratchet & Clank is better than Pikmin 2? And what non-Cuber do you know who isn't even the slightest bit jealous of Sonic Adventure 2? Certainly, Gamecube is one of the 128-bit era's underappreciated systems.

Neo Geo Pocket Color was the one system that managed to pos a threat to Game Boy Color, which caused some alarm amongst Nintendo fans. Unbeknownst to most people, Neo Geo Pocket Coor is actually the successor to the extremely short lived black-&-white handheld Neo Geo Pocket, which was introduced in Japan in late 1998. It had less than a dozen games released for it before being hastily replaced by neo Geo Pocket Color (which I will hereon refer to as NGPC because I hate typing that long name). NGPC was 16-bit, quite a step up from the outdated Game Boy Color, which really was just a color Game Boy. Being made by SNK, NGPC was naturally rich in fighting and shooter games. Fatal Fury, Metal Slug, SNK vs. Capcom, and Samurai Shodown all made starring appearances on the NGPC, along with other popular series like Sonic the Hedgehog, Puyo Pop, and Puzzle Bobble. But apparently, that wasn't enough to convince people that NGPC was better that GBC, as it stuck around only from 1999-2001. I would say that NGPC is the most undeservedly failed system ever, where it not for the #1 choice...

Many people will tell you that Dreamcast failed, but in reality it was you who failed the Dreamcast. You were the people who jumped ship to PS2 the minute it came out, dooming Dreamcast to certain death. Apparently, even the announcement of Sonic Adventure 2 failed to stir up much interest in the system, as it died quickly afterwards. But let's look back to 1999, when Dreamcast was released. It came out on September 9, 1999 (9/9/99!), along with the heralded Sonic Adventure. It sold very well initially, and quickly became a popular system to develop games for. In fact, Dreamcast had a huge amount of game made for it, despite its' short life. Sega also created some of the most groundbreaking games of the era, like Jet Grind Radio and Shenmue. Sega's excellent Dreamcast creations managed to earn it a spot amongst other great systems of the time, like PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Today, Dreamcast has a large fanbase, and even gets new games developed for it today by homebrew companies like Milestone and Hucast.

Well, there you are. These 10 systems prove that having a great system to sell doesn't make any difference if you can't do it right, or release it against competition too fierce for you to handle. And usually, when a system sells badly game developers will steer away to the more popular competitors, causing the system to sell even worse, and it will eventually die. This spiral of doom is what happens when less able developers copy whatever system is the standard at the time, and it is the biggest reason why some systems die an early death.


List by tgoldberg (03/31/2010)

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