We return once again to a landfill in New Mexico, the mass grave of video-gaming and its greatest failures. We’ll dig through the piles of E.T cartridges and the discarded Nintendo Power Gloves. Hey, is that a copy of Carnival Games or Sonic 2006? Guess some things never change about hiding our skeletons. Ah, here’s three new decaying wastes of space, if they weren’t made of high-grade plastics.
The Atari Jaguar started its own run in the console cycle surprisingly quickly in 1993, and it had a chance of being something great unlike most on this list. You see, the Jaguar attempted-and succeeded-at making a system which had greater processing power and graphical capabilities than Nintendo or Sega’s machines. It also had a great backing from other developers; due to the stranglehold both Nintendo and Sega had upon the market for years, third-parties were signing up left and right….only to realize that it featured stop-motion movies and remade classics as its launch circuit. This would not have been a bad thing if they hadn’t kept releasing the past instead of the future. In a lesson that feels a need to be repeated but not forgotten, Atari lost out on a lot of buyers due to an over presence of nostalgia and the largest controller known to man. You would have VCR rewinders that were smaller than this.
That being said, there were your interesting creations, such as it being the first console to put ID’s Doom on their system without any cutbacks on its processing power, or that it was one of the only consoles to ever get a Worms game that didn’t look like a blocky, pixelated mess. Finally, it also had the unique honor of being chosen for this list and having the largest library of all the candidates on it. And when its best games like Alien vs Predator or Myst could barely work without extreme graphical and gameplay bugs, you don’t wonder why so many decided to return to their personal computers.
The horror embodied through the development of vector-based graphics begins here, my friends. It all began with the Vectrex in 1982, and while it would have the biggest foibles in later years as a piss-poor attempt at nostalgia in the Jaguar and Virtual Boy, the Vectrex has the honor of being the first outside of Atari’s rail shooters. It had the best cycle of gaming with space games due to the limitations of the systems and its ‘futuristic’ look. It should be noted that it not only claimed a chance at making objects appear as three-dimensional, but it also came with physical screen overlays to compensate for the system’s own failures. Truly, that is a form of laziness that I can only dream of.
This system with its incredibly bright lights and no sense of volume control had a number of games, but nowhere near as many as the Jaguar until well after its expiration date when homebrew creators decided to take the reins and run with it. Starting in 2001, up-and-coming programmers tried their hand at creating and updating the system and their games with original and nostalgia-inspired content. While it certainly did not impress upon the players any new appreciation for the system with a game that crashed after only thirteen levels of repetition, it did make the games a little better in the scope of history if you weren’t trying to block out the lighting with sunglasses and a prayer.
Fairchild Channel F
Back before the competition reigned between Nintendo and Sega, there was Atari and the coming threat of the Fairchild. Released only to the states in 1976, what set this system apart from the Atari 2600 was not its eight-palette graphical capabilities but the amazing technical achievement of hardware capable of producing an AI for computer opponents. When the only competition made games where only a social group could hope to play, the Fairchild opened the door to the incredible loneliness and seclusion that would inform the gaming culture of today. A quarter of a million units were sold, however, which pales in comparison to the numbers of the Atari. Why? Because the Fairchild was too expensive.
For all its achievement, Jerry Lawson probably didn’t realize his remarkable piece of machinery with edutainment games and pinball was not entirely made with the market price of $169.95. This may seem like chump change now, but we’re talking the era where American youths were either expressing free love and music for the masses with drugs and peace beads or parents just stood there and shook their heads from the shrinking homestead. Games cost twenty bucks a pop and there were only twenty-six of them. The Atari was sold for $130 when it was released, and while the games were the same price or greater by a handful of dollars, we are talking ones of commercial appeal like Asteroids, Pitfall, and Yar’s Revenge. As the last three dregs of plastic and wiring will show next time, the Fair Child simply didn’t have the goods to come to market. At least someone is getting use out of them; homebrew nerds and table-makers, rejoice!