11 Cancelled Gaming Consoles You Never Knew Existed Via

The annals of gaming history are actually rife with examples of consoles that were conceptualized and constructed without ever making it to the marketplace. Understandably, putting a new game platform into production can be a tricky business. Any number of problems ranging from corporate politics to investor interests and audience impressions could result in a project being instantly cancelled. Even the biggest names in gaming like Sony, Nintendo, and Sega have invested heavily in the research and development of machines that never made it into production. So lets take a bit of time now to look back on all the cancelled game consoles we never got a chance to play.

11. Sega VR

Flying high from the success of the Genesis, in 1991 Sega announced that it planned to develop a virtual reality headset for arcades and consoles. Two years later, at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show, they unveiled a prototype that seemed to be an adaptation of a similar headset already in use by Sega in arcades. They also announced that a console version was in development and should be available to consumers in the spring of 1994. But due to development difficulties, the Sega VR console headset remained only a prototype, and was never released to the general public.

Reports indicate that the Sega VR headset suffered from many of the same problems that plagued Nintendo’s failed VR offering, the Virtual Boy. Namely, after prolonged use, users would develop headaches and get bad cases of motion sickness. But at least Sega VR was an actual headset with a physical design similar to that of the Oculus Rift and other soon-to-be-released VR designs. The Virtual Boy wasn’t even wearable and caused constant neck pains from having to always lean in to view the screen. Via

10. Atari Game Brain

In the 70’s, the first at-home games released by Atari were all dedicated machines that featured only a single built-in game like Pong or Video Pinball. The Game Brain was the company’s first concept for an interchangeable cartridge-based gaming console. However, in actuality, the system was really just intended to provide an outlet for Atari to make use of the CPUs from all their unsold dedicated game machines.

The Game Brain didn’t really feature any new technology and was pretty much just a power supply with a video output and some built-in controls. Eventually, Atari cancelled its plans for the Game Brain to make way for the Atari 2600 in 1977. Which was probably a smart move considering the 2600 would become a huge success and earn recognition as Atari’s flagship product. Via

9. GamePark XGP

In 2001, South Korean company Game Park released the GamePark 32, an open source handheld system running Linux. It quickly became a hit with the homebrew community because, in addition to being affordable, it was powerful enough to run a number of emulators for classic game consoles. Of course, today, many smartphones are capable of doing the exact same thing, in 2001 it was viewed as a pretty big deal.

Spurred by the success GamePark 32, the company prepared to follow up the system with the XGP — another handheld offering that featured a few add-ons and a faster processor. However, internal conflicts within Game Park resulted in the company being divided and, as a result, the XGP never saw the light of day. Via

8. Sega Neptune

When looking back on Sega’s troubled console history, it becomes apparent that company was extremely confused as to what to do with their product line in the mid 90’s. By 1995, Sega had brought to market eight separate gaming platforms — none of which were compatible. There was the Sega Genesis, the Sega CD, the Sega 32X, the Sega 32X CD, the Sega Game Gear, the Sega Pico, and, their latest addition, the Sega Saturn. There was also the Sega Nomad (a handheld Sega Genesis), and the Sega CDX which combined a Sega Genesis and Sega CD into one semi-portable unit. Even with all those consoles floating around, some of the executives at Sega figured it was time to make another one, proposing something they called Sega Neptune.

The Neptune was intended as way for Sega to simplify its product line by combining a Genesis and the 32X add-on into a single console. In the end, someone at the company finally came to their senses and decided that the last thing Sega needed was another game system to support. So plans for the Neptune were scrapped so the company could refocus its efforts on marketing the Sega Saturn. But here’s a picture of one Sega fan’s homemade version of the system! Via

7. Panasonic M2

Launched in 1993, the 3DO was the first console to bring 32-bit graphics to gamers. But 3DO’s business models strayed from industry norms in that their technology was intended to be used as a platform for other companies to build on, similar to the way in which JVC’s VHS platform allowed for other companies to make their own VCRs. The first company to express interest in the idea was Panasonic. This led to 3DO developing the M2 gaming console, which they sold exclusively to Panasonic for $100 million.

The Panasonic M2 had graphical capabilities that were likely superior to those of the Nintendo 64 but not quite as good as those offered by the Sega Dreamcast. And despite getting far enough along in production to see the beginnings of a marketing campaign, before it could be released, Panasonic cancelled the project in 1997, stating they were unwilling to compete against the likes of the Sony and Nintendo, both of which had recently released a number of top-selling games for their respective PlayStation and N64 consoles. Via

6. Atari Cosmos

When Atari announced the Cosmos in 1981, they proclaimed it was a sophisticated handheld game system with 3D and holographic technology. However, in actuality, the gaming machine wasn’t nearly as revolutionary as they made it out to be. The supposed “holographic” technology was merely a pre-printed overlay that acted more like an accessory for a number of basic, interchangeable electronic games displayed on a small grid of red LEDs. As soon as people learned what the Cosmos really was, they hype train abruptly stopped and Atari discontinued its plans for the system. However, a few fully-functional Atari Cosmos systems actually did get built and now they stand as coveted collector’s items. Via

5. Atari Jaguar Duo

Similar to the Sega CDX and Sega Neptune mentioned earlier, the Atari Jaguar Duo was an attempt to combine existing systems — in this case the Atari Jaguar and Atari Jaguar CD — to form a new console. The system was intended to compete head-to-head with the Sony PlayStation and the Sega Saturn but, as there was seemingly no demand for it, Atari only got as far as manufacturing the plastic cases for the system before someone shut the project down. Via

4. Infinium Labs Phantom

As is the case with a lot of unreleased gaming systems, the story of Infinium Labs Phantom involves a lot of unkept promises and lost money. To summarize, Infinium Labs designed the Phantom so it could play standard PC games on a TV, thereby making the PC gaming experience more console-like. But the most novel feature of the system was the fact that it didn’t use any sort of removable media. Instead, users would buy games online and then download them to the Phantom over the Internet.

Although digital distribution is commonplace today, back in 2004, before all the digital rights management (DRM) was in place, a lot of companies were sceptical it could be pulled off. Between 2004 and 2006, Infinium Labs squandered over $60 million trying to push the Phantom to market. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before all the money ran out and the Phantom vanished from the gaming world forever. Via

3. Taito WoWoW

Representing a joint effort between arcade game maker Taito, software developer ASCII, and business conglomerate JSB, the Taito WoWoW was a console that appeared to be well ahead of its time when a prototype first surfaced in 1992. At a time when cartridges were still very much the console norm, the WoWoW used CD-ROMs as its main form of game media. More surprising still, it was supposed to allow users to download new games through some sort of satellite TV receiver. But after only making a few public appearances at Tokyo trade shows, the WoWoW mysteriously disappeared before production could get underway.

According to one of the engineers in charge of the project, insufficient transfer speeds combined with escalating costs are what prevented the console from making it out of the prototype stage. Via

2. Konix Multisystem

Konix was a British company who specialized in making game controllers for computers and other systems. In 1989, they decided to use their expertise in peripheral production to design a game console of their own. this resulted in the development of the Konix Multisystem — an unorthodox gaming system built into the body of a complex steering controller. The Multisystem’s integrated controller could be changed into three modes: steering wheel, motorcycle handles, and flight stick. The advanced controller also supported tactile force feedback, something that wouldn’t be seen again in console gaming for almost a decade.

The idea was that the Multisystem would compete with other computer systems that were popular in Europe at the time, such as the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST. The controller-console combo even made use of the same 3.5″ floppy discs commonly used by computers back then. However, that decision figured prominently into the console’s demise as the low storage capacity of floppy discs made the system incredibly difficult to program for. Konix also got a little too ambitious and wanted to simultaneously develop additional accessories like foot pedals, a recoiling light gun, and a motorized gaming chair. Consequently, the company soon found itself losing money and the entire project had to be scrapped before it could launch.

1. Nintendo Play Station

At the 1991 Consumer Electronics Show, Nintendo of America revealed that they were partnering with European electronics firm Philips to make a CD-ROM-based video game console. This announcement shocked Sony engineers who had recently demonstrated a product they were planning on developing in partnership with Nintendo. Sony’s product was intended to be the world’s first cartridge / CD hybrid console, making both formats available to game developers. They called the prototype console the “Play Station”

While Nintendo and Sony attempted to sort out their differences, approximately 200 Play Station units were created but, with Nintendo retaining control of the profits from the sale of games, the two organizations were never able to see eye-to-eye on many critical issues. By 1993, Sony would see its efforts refocused on developing its own console to compete with Nintendo’s offerings. Via

Wes Walcott

Wes Walcott

Wes is a devourer of media. He ravenously consumes podcasts, books, and TV shows with seemingly no regard for review scores or subject matter. If encountered in the wild, Wes is said to respond positively to verbal cues relating to X-Men or the SNES. The subject can be easily captured and tamed using Transformers or Gundam models.