The Silicon Valley 10 & 1 06.16.10: Top 10 Console Failures!
Posted by Justin Weinblatt on 06.16.2010
From the Sega disasters including the Saturn, 32X, and Dreamcast to the Neo Geo Pocket Color, the Virtua Boy, the Gamecube, and more, 411's Justin Weinblatt ranks his Top 10 Hardware Failures in the latest edition of the Silicon Valley 10 & 1!
Hello and welcome back to The Silicon Valley 10 & 1 by Justin Weinblatt. I hope you guys have been following E3 coverage right here on 411! I'm truly bummed I couldn't be there this year. Microsoft bored me to tears, and Nintendo really impressed me. Still waiting on Sony's conference. But enough about that. You're here for the lists!
Well, there were about 2000 words in that last article. By my count about 1999 of them were spelled correctly, so I'm OK with my success rate.
9.Bob: WWE is not rewriting history, it simply does not want to be associated with a man who murdered his family and then committed suicide. What company would?
Your assertion that WWE not acknowledging Benoit "prevents the industry from learning from the tragedy" is just assinine. Right. No one can learn from the Benoit tragedy because he's not mentioned on WWE 24/7 or in WWE magazine. Good call
I respect your opinion, but WWE is rewriting history by definition. Any event involving Chris Benoit has been cut out of the video library. If that isn't rewriting history, I don't know what is. The recent Daniel Bryan situation, depending on whether this is real or not, may show the insane lengths the WWE is taking to avoid any reference to Benoit.
Perhaps I'm cynical, but I feel that the largest reason for this is because the WWE is trying to avoid the pressure involved in a complete overhaul of their business practices. Surely there have been some positive changes, no chair shots for instance, but I'm not sure if it's enough. Thanks for reading and commenting, even if you disagree.
8. Loki: The Kane game would be good, but for the fact that there would have to be a God of War style sex mini game with Katie Vick.
7. Jonberg: Rob Terry is Welsh not English. I dunno Americans insist on calling all english people british and then the one time that british could be used correctly we get english instead...
My apologies for the mistake. My knowledge of TNA is a bit spotty.
6. The Real MP: I don't know what the fuck this nonsense is all about, but GOD DAMN does Michelle McCool look hot in the first pic.
Say what you want about her "talent" and "attitude," but GOD DAMN.
Yeah, she's hot, but honestly that's only 1/3 of what I want in a female wrestler. The other 2/3's are wrestling ability and personality. Her wrestling ability is above average for WWE, but she just bores the hell out of me. Thanks for reading.
5. John: Super Macho Man - Punch-Out Series Definitely. In fact most of the Punch Out cast could probably work.
4. Jaked: Yea wait, if your going to say Zangief is number one, then not even bother mentioning R. Mika....then wtf?
You may as well have chosen Starman from the NES game Pro Wrestling lol
R. Mika was only in one game. Considering I had 3 Street Fighters already, I didn't see the need to include her.
3.Guest: Kratos should be #1
King/Armour King/Marduk should be on this list obviously.
also I can't believe nowhere in your paragraph about Big Daddies do you mention Shirley Crabtree...
LOOK IT UP!
Lol. There is no pleasing those Sony fans. My knowledge of British wrestlers who retired when I was a year old is sadly lacking. I assure you, there will be no more horrific oversights like that ever again.
2.Youraznhero: i was scared shitless on monday, i thought the world would implode when black cena touched super cena.
1.JLARC: How about a Big Bossman game where you go around beating criminals and prisoners (and the occasional little dog) with your nightstick? You could also unlock the Mountie as a mystery character and use his shockstick.
How about a Sims-type game where you have the wrestlers with carious occupations (garbageman, racecar driver, circus clown, singers, etc.) live out a typical day in and out of the ring?
WWE Announcer Star- Think of any of the karaoke/singing games out there, but instead you announce matches and are graded on it.
How about a old-school "Rampage" game with Khali, Big Show, Kane, Taker, destroying buildings and stepping on people?
Divas Sports- Divas in bikinis playing sports.
Great ideas. I almost had something like the Sims one in my column. The rampage game would be a REALLY fun extra for an upcoming SVR.
Enough of the wrestling lists for now. It's E3 time, and this year should be a good one. We'll definitely be seeing not one, not two, but three pieces of new hardware shown off. We've seen Microsoft's Nat- Kinect, and the 3DS already. Move will be shown shortly (by the time you see this). There's also the outside chance of a PSP 2, so it's going to be an exciting show. Launching a new piece of hardware can be tough, so lets look at some hardware that didn't quite make it. Maybe there are some lessons to be learned.
Top 10 Failed Pieces of Hardware!
And now...The LIST!
10. The Sega Dreamcast
As much as it pains me to say it, the Dreamcast was a failure. It was at least a spectacular failure. The amount of great games that were released in the Dreamcast's 3 years on the market is unreal. Sonic Adventure ½, Soul Calibur, Marvel vs Capcom ½, Power Stone ½, Skies of Arcadia, Shenmue, Capcom vs SNK, Jet Grind Radio, Chu Chu Rocket, and Crazy Taxi to name a few. The Dreamcast was a final burst of glory from a once great company.
What lessons can be learned from the Dreamcast? Lots. The most important one is, reputation is everything. Sega had horribly botched the Saturn launch, and consumer confidence was low. Comparitively, Sony's Playstation was a huge success, and gamers were itching for the next system in the Playstation line. Fueled by outlandish hype from Sony execs (anyone remember the emotion engine?), and the excitement of DVD technology, the Dreamcast met a tragically early demise.
9. Sony's PS3
Ah, I can already feel the hatred of Sony fans, and I kind of get it. After all it's hard to call the PS3 a failure. It's moved about 40 million units, is neck and neck with the X-Box 360, and is gaining a ton of steam. However, Sony didn't just win the PS2 generation, they dominated it. The PS2 has sold about 140 million units to date, and the Gamecube and X-Box have around 45 million, combined. In addition the PS2 has, in my opinion, the greatest library of games ever made. Considering this, it's hard to imagine how Sony wound up in third place this time around.
Sony used a lot of the same strategies that they did when dealing with the Dreamcast. They launched a more expensive console, with a new media playback device, and outlandish promises. Unfortunately for Sony, Peter Moore, former Sega of America President and head of the X-Box division at the time, had learned a thing or two from their previous battle. Microsoft made sure that consumers perceived the 360 and PS3 as equals in terms of hardware. Combine this with Sony's absolutely disastrous E3 press conference (GIANT ENEMY CRAB!!!) and the high costs associated with Blu-Ray, and Sony went from a distant first, to a close third. The PS3 may be doing ok now, but I don't think Sony will ever recapture the dominance they once had.
Ok, I can see finishing behind the Sony, but losing to the Microsoft. Seriously? From the end of the SNES era to the beginning of the Wii era, Nintendo was lost in the new gaming world that Sony had created. They constantly showed that they were behind the times. The Gamecube was Nintendo's awkward teenage phase. They were trying to please both hardcore and casual fans, and ended up pleasing no one.
When you look at the Gamecube, you can see the attitude that would later result in the Wii. The friendly lunch box looking console, the candy colored buttons, cel shaded games, and so on. They were also still trying to appeal to the hardcore with games like Metroid Prime, Resident Evil 4, and Eternal Darkness. In the end, they failed to reach anyone except diehard Nintendo fans. Next time around Nintendo would have an even stronger casual focus. They're still struggling to figure out how to reach both hardcore and casual fans with the same console.
A lot of the products here are good pieces of hardware that were marketed poorly. The N-Gage was just trash.
The N-Gage was Nokia's early attempt at a cell phone/Gameboy combination. A very poorly designed attempt. Inserting a game was a difficult process which involved removing the N-Gage's battery. Combine this with the fact that the N-Gage didn't have any games worth inserting, and you have a recipe for disaster. The vertically oriented screen was also a problem.
Even as a cellphone, the N-Gage wasn't great. You had to talk into the side of the phone which felt awkward, and looked ridiculous. Being sold at stores like Gamestop, rather than traditional cell phone stores, made for some tricky marketing.
The lesson to be learned? First impressions are everything. Nokia would later unveil the N-Gage QD, which wasn't perfect, but was a big improvement. Unfortunately, by that time the N-Gage was labeled as a joke, and was beyond help.
6. GBA/GC Link Cable/ E-Reader
Here we have a double whammy of questionable Nintendo peripherals. The Nintendo E-Reader was a device that allowed you to scan cards. Scanning cards could activate simple games, like Nintendo's balloon fight, give players some neat power ups, or even add new levels to a game! Awesome right?
The idea was good, but the interface was far too clunky. You needed to GBAs and a link cable to activate the E-Reader. There were also not too many cards available.
The GC/GBA Link Cable was a bigger flop. While other developers were showing off online multi-player, Nintendo showed off Pac Man Vs. Pac Man Vs was a game where one player would contorl Pac Man on a TV screen, and three others would control ghosts on their GBAs. Was it fun? Sure. But, it wasn't what people wanted.
The GBA/GC Link would be used in several other games. It was usable in Wind Waker, and Zelda: Four Swords Adventure. Square supported the device with Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. To fully enjoy these games you'd need 4 GBAs, 4 GBA/GC Link Cables, and a Gamecube.
The lesson to be learned here is simple. Think very carefully about a device before you release it, and make sure it is easy to use.
5. Neo Geo Pocket Color
This one is a head scratcher. The Neo Geo Pocket Color was great handheld, at a reasonable price. For some reason (tax write off maybe?) SNK decided not to let anyone know about it. The product was launched exclusively through the now defunct eToys website, just in case people saw this in stores and actually wanted to buy it. Despite having some great games, nobody really knew that this thing existed. By the time the GBA came out, it was obsolete.
The lesson to be learned is clear, if you want a product to be successful you have to ummm let people know about it.
4. Virtual Boy
I actually owned a Virtual Boy. I got one for about 20 bucks after the thing was discontinued. It's not a bad little system. After the initial awkwardness of the vector graphics passes, the graphics look pretty decent. They show off an amount of depth that surpasses even modern consoles. There were even some fun games. Mario Tennis was addictive, Mario Clash was a fun re-imagining of Mario's original sewer dwelling adventures, and Wario Land was a fun platformer by any standard.
The lesson to be learned for Kinect and Move is the importance of pricepoint. The Virtual Boy was an interesting novelty that people would likely want to check out. Unfortunately, it was priced at $180 dollars, which was too much to pay to satisfy one's curiosity. Interestingly enough though, a mint Virtual Boy can still fetch around $200 bucks on Ebay.
Originally, I had the Virtual Boy placed at #2, but when I thought about it I couldn't justify that. Sure it was a massive failure, but ultimately the failure seemed to effect Nintendo very little in the long run.
3. Sega 32X/Sega CD
This product may be the most apt comparison for the Natal/Move. True that they are very different devices, but all of these products are being used to extend the lifecycle of their console.
The Sega CD was, as it sounds like, a CD add on to the Sega Genessis. The add-on greatly increased the storage capacity over Genesis Cartridges, and allowed for superior sound as well as full motion video. Unfortunately, the video quality was greatly hampered by the Genesis' hardware limitations. It also didn't help that most games were either mildly upgraded ports, or lame laser disc style games.
After the 32X failure, Sega tried the 32X, which fared even worse. There weren't that many games, and the Sega Saturn was close to release. The big problem with these devices was not really financial looses, but reputation losses. Sega became known as a company that under-supports their devices. In the future people would take a "wait and see" approach with Sega products.
What is the lesson here? Console gamers =/= PC games. Console gamers generally don't want to upgrade, and would prefer to buy a whole new system. Will Sony and Microsoft be able to reverse this trend by releasing upgraded controllers? We'll see very soon.
2. PSP Go
The PSP go came at a bit of a disconcerting time. It seemed as though Sony was finally getting back on the right track and then... this... The PSP Go was a new version of the PSP with digital distribution in mind. Sony may have jumped the gun a bit, because gamers didn't seem too enthused about it.
The worst thing about the PSP Go was that Sony decided to pull down their pants and piss on the faces of their fans. When you release a new handheld device, a huge portion of the audience is going to be people looking to upgrade. The problem is that all of your old PSP UMDs became completely useless (at least in America). In an industry where backwards comparability is standard, the Go wasn't even sideways compatible. All of this was made worse by the price. The $250 dollar price tag made the Go significantly more expensive than the DS, and only $50 dollars less than one of the home consoles.
1. Sega Saturn
Everyone loves surprises. A surprise party? Great. Surprise gift? Awesome. Surprise promotion? Wonderful. Surprise console launch? Eh... not so good.
The Sega Saturn was sent to launch on September 2nd of 1995. At E3 that year Sega was all like PSYCHE!!! IT'S LAUNCHING RIGHT NOW BITCHES!!! GET YO ASS READY! This caused quite a few problems for Sega. Game developers weren't ready with launch titles, retailers were peeved, and gamers were confused. Things were made worse when Sony retaliated, simply saying the "299". In 1997, when plans of the Dreamcast were revealed, the Saturn was dead in the water. Of course, it didn't help that despite having some real gems, the Saturn's library wasn't that strong unless you really loved arcade ports.
The Sega Saturn botch basically killed Sega as a first party developer. Gamers and developers were skeptical that the Dreamcast would meet a similar fate, and it became a self fulfilling prophecy.
Well, that's it for me. But I'm only one man. I'm sure you guys have lots of great suggestions, so leave them in the comments section!
Ah, I've finally found another good gamer girl. Jo Garcia was Playboy Magazine's Cybergirl of the year for 2008, and is a bonafide gamer. By her own admission she buys about 6 games a month, and she owned a Sega Dreamcast. How hot is that?
Well, that about sums it up for this week's Silicon Valley. Keep an eye out for me on 411, and be sure to check out 411 on Twitter.