5 Consoles That Flopped So Hard You Probably Don’t Know Them All

The console war broke out long before PlayStation and Xbox. In this article, we’ll introduce you to consoles that hardly anyone knows about because they completely flopped.

Before Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo had established themselves as the undisputed giants on the console market, each year a variety of manufacturers tried to gain a foothold in the gaming industry. Names like Sega, Atari or Commodore will be familiar to most people here.

Their consoles have come and gone, but have left their mark on gaming history and paved the way for innovation. But there were some whose life span was so short and the flop was so difficult that hardly anyone remembers them today. Here are 5 such consoles.

Amstrad GX4000

amstrad console

During the 80s and 90s many toy and tech companies tried to get into the growing console market to get their money. One such company was Amstrad, founded by British Allan Sugar.

The manufacturer was one of the dominant forces in the British PC market during the 80s and they also wanted to use this situation to get into the console wars. That was the birth of the Amstrad GC4000. The console’s hardware architecture was based on the in-house “CPC Plus” home computer and was related to third-generation consoles.

Console failure was inevitable. At the time of its release in 1990, the competition was already strong. The 8-bit consoles Sega Master Systems and the heavyweight Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) raged on the European market, against which Amstrad had to assert itself.

In addition, the first 16-bit consoles such as the Sega Genesis appeared in the late 80s, against which the 8-bit Amstrad had no chance with its small software offering of about 30 games. It is estimated that only 14,000 units of the console have been sold.


zeebo console

Compared to the other consoles on this list, the Zeebo is a real youth. The device first appeared in May 2009, that is, 3 years after the Wii and PlayStation 3, and was not really intended for us at all.

Zeebo was intended to target the middle class in countries such as Brazil and Mexico, with later releases also planned in China and Russia. Priced at 499 brazilian reals (about €150 then, €94.90 today), it should appeal to customers for whom consoles from market leaders Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo were too expensive.

But while the price seemed too low to us, it was still too high for customers in Brazil and Mexico. Accordingly, the price dropped to 299 real after 6 months of release.

Another problem was the software as well. Zeebo received 46 titles, many of which were “ports” and adapted versions of existing titles, such as Resident Evil 4 (2005) and Need for Speed: Carbon (2006).

Zeebo fell well short of its sales target of 600,000 units and ended up selling an estimated 30,000 consoles (via independent.co.uk).


Playdia Bandai Console

One of the many companies that tried unsuccessfully in the console business was the Japanese toy giant Bandai. One of their efforts was the Playdia, a fifth-generation 32-bit console controlled by a wireless infrared controller.

To differentiate itself from the competition, which in the 1990s was incredibly diverse and numerous, Bandai went against industry trends at the time. So Playdia was designed as a console for children, which could be viewed both in color form and in associated software.

The games that appeared for Playdia during its short lifetime were less games in the classic sense and more interactive anime and educational software. There was no trace of the correct gameplay, which was already known from Nintendo, Sega and Atari games at the time.

The selection consisted primarily of in-house Bandai IPs such as Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon and Gundam, with Bandai being the only producer to endorse the platform. As a result, Playdia only got 39 different titles in total.

It is unknown how many units Playdia ended up selling, but it fell short of its target of 200,000 consoles and was discontinued (via playdia.fandom.com) two years after its release in 1996.

Did you know that Apple once released consoles?


that console

Nuon’s developer, VM Labs Inc. was founded by a former Vice President and several former Atari employees, and actually had experience in the console wars.

However, his approach towards it was a bit backwards. Released in 2000, the Nuone, while considered a console, was marketed as a multimedia device at best and DVD player at worst. Even in terms of looks, the Nuon looked more like a video gamer than a console. So the games for Nun were extremely limited and sometimes completely absurd.

Only 8 games were released for the console, half of which were already on PlayStation (via Giant Bomb). One game was also region-locked and was only playable on the Korean version of the console. The same was true. Quite the contrary: Korean Nuon could only play one game that was exclusive to that region: Crayon Shin-chan 3.

However, the absurdity went even further, as the Noon had a total of 4 different controllers with different button layouts that looked like copies of PlayStation or N64 controllers. But the games were not designed to support all 4 controllers and with some misfortune you could not control the newly acquired games for your Nuon properly.

It is no surprise, then, that the console, despite being one of the first 128-bit consoles along with the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2, was a complete flop and only sold 25,000 units.

FM Town Marty

FM Town Marty Console

Just because a company is very successful in the tech industry doesn’t mean it has no problem entering the console business. Many companies, including Fujitsu, had to learn this lesson in the 1990s.

As a successful manufacturer of PCs, TVs and monitors, Fujitsu decided to extend its influence to consoles and gaming. To this end, the company created the FM Town Marty console on February 20, 1993, which was claimed to be the first 32-bit console with a CD drive.

The console was only released in Japan for a whopping 98,000 yen, which would roughly equate to €1,408 today. This was a hefty sum that was out of the question for many, mainly because of the many cheaper options.

Sales were so bad that just a year later, Fujitsu released Marty 2 to attract renewed industry attention. While the 2 in name made it seem like it was a new console with better or at least different specs, it was not. The only difference was the casing, which was slightly darker brown than the color of the second edition.

Unlike the other consoles on this list, Marty had a huge range of games. However, this was because the device was backwards compatible and could play games from Fujitsu’s own FM Town PC.

Marty and Marty 2 are estimated to have sold around 45,000 units together and were a complete flop after which Fujitsu stayed out of the console wars.

Do you know the consoles on our list? Can you think of anyone who has been a complete flop and who has never found fame? Write us in comment.

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