The forthcoming release of the Nintendo Switch has many of us wondering if the hybrid console will make the failures of the Wii U a distant memory. But despite being commercial flops, do gaming systems like the Wii U really deserve to be forgotten?
The word “failure” can be attached to a system for a variety of reasons. Poor sales, short lifespans as well as critic and/or consumer acclaim all can contribute to whether a gaming system is remembered in a positive or negative light. And while there are some systems that feel truly indefensible, there are others that really deserved a bit more recognition.
With Switch’s March 3 release just around the corner, we decided to look back at some gaming systems we love but, for one reason or another, are considered failures.
Sega Dreamcast (1999)
This system deserved so much more. Released on the heels of other colossal failures from Sega, the Dreamcast represented one last prayer from a company on the edge. Unfortunately, the system had to compete almost immediately with Sony’s PlayStation 2, which led to it selling just 8.2 million units worldwide, according to VGChartz, and to its discontinuation in North America after two years.
So why do we love the Dreamcast? For starters, it was the first system to have a built-in modem for online play, as well as voice chat. It had an awesome lineup of games, including the “Power Stone” and “Crazy Taxi” series, and sported the best graphics ever seen to that point. The fact that it left such an impression in such a short time is a testament to its greatness.
Nintendo Wii U (2013)
Oh Wii U, we hardly knew you. No, we’re not being dramatic, there are plenty of people out there who still have no idea this system exits, which is a shame. Now that we know Nintendo will end first-party support of the console after Switch’s release, we can confidently say that the Wii U was a flop of epic proportions. Selling just under 14 million units world wide, the distance between the Wii U’s sales and those of the Wii’s (101.18 million) is staggering.
But if you’ve ever had the chance to play one, you know how hard it is hard to put it down. Building on the motion sensor controls introduced by the Wii, Nintendo created a tablet-like controller that enables you to play games on either your TV or on the controller’s screen. Also, the interplay between the tablet and console was meant to introduce some truly innovative styles of play, but that potential barely ever was tapped. Still, this system offered some incredible first-party and independent games, and allowed you to play online multiplayer on a Nintendo system for the first time.
This system released during 2013, and yes, and we cant blame you if you’ve never heard of it. Marketed as the first “totally open video game console,” the Ouya reached production in 2013 after a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign. And although you still can purchase the system for $99, the Ouya is a largely forgotten console, as the average consumer couldn’t see the appeal in buying an Android-based system.
But if you take to the time to uncover this system’s secrets, you’ll reap the benefits. In addition to the 1,235 games already in the system’s library, you can install emulators that allow you to play thousands of games that span gaming’s history. If you want to install every classic Nintendo game ever made, you can to do it. But the most-interesting thing about the Ouya might be that it doubles as a developer kit.
Sega Saturn (1995)
The true follow up to the Sega Genesis, this system sold just 8.82 million units worldwide, which puts it barely ahead of the Dreamcast. But the problem with the Saturn wasn’t its quality, but rather its timing.
The Saturn was capable of 3-D gaming, but Sega really designed it to be a 2-D powerhouse. That proved problematic, as the previous-year release of Sony’s PlayStation and the release of the Nintendo 64 in 1996 showed that gamers already had moved on from 2-D gaming. Still, the Saturn is a great system with an awesome lineup of games, including some of the best fighters ever made.
This system was doomed from the start. Released just one year before the video game industry suffered a massive recession, the Vectrex never had a chance. Though its monitor only could display monochrome visuals, its graphics and arcade-style controller gave way for developers to create games that truly were ahead of their time. Finding the chance to play one is rare, but if you get the opportunity, you’ll be amazed at how well this system handles.
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