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Ten worst handheld gaming consoles of all time

5:56 PM, Aug 16, 2010   |    comments
  • PSPgo
  • Digiblast
  • Gizmondo
  • RZone (Star Wars game advertisement)
  • Game.Com
  • Nomad
  • Gamate
  • Virtual Boy
  • Atari Lynx
  • N-Gage
    
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Although the successes of Nintendo's Game Boy go back to the late 1980's and Sony's PSP is on its fourth variation, there have been a number of failed attempts to get a foothold in the very competitive handheld gaming market.  While SEGA's Game Gear did well enough to avoid this list, ten others get the dubious honor of being on it -- including one each from Sony and Nintendo.

10. PSPgo (Sony) - Sony introduced the PSPgo to a large , skeptically curious audience at the company's 2009 E3 press conference.  Since its release, it's been criticized for its high price point (initially only $50 less than the blu-ray-equipped PS3), awkward control placement and the lack of support for the UMDs that all other PSP models use.  Due to a lack of consumer interest and poor sales, Sony is currently thinking about re-launching the handheld in the near future.

9. Nomad (SEGA) - It's like a Game Gear that plays the already-existing SEGA Genesis game cartridges.  While the Game Boy was still thriving with its monochrome display, the Nomad delivered (then) amazing 16-bit full-color graphics.  The problem was that it ate "AA" batteries for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

8. Gamate (Bitcorp) - It was created to take advantage of the handheld gaming craze kicked off by the Game Boy but was quickly forgotten as unsatisfactory sales and an LCD screen that suffered from bad motion blur spelled the Gamate's failure.  Bitcorp folded in 1992, one year after the Gamate's release.

7. Lynx (Atari) - The Lynx reviewed well (garnishing a "5 out of 5" score from Dragon Magazine) but it debuting around the same time as the original Game Boy combined with its higher price point made it a tough sell.  Even after a price cut in 1991 to $99 couldn't save it as it soon-after became a distant third option once SEGA released its Game Gear handheld that same year.

6. Virtual Boy (Nintendo) - Possibly the only flop in Nintendo's console history, the Virtual Boy was one of those things that looked great on paper but failed in reality.  The system's all-red display (coupled with how close to your eyes the monitors are) caused eye strain and headaches with almost all who played it.  Also, the thing was hardly portable with most people setting it on a table by using its stand.

5. Gizmondo (Tiger Telematics) - This failed handheld gaming platform featured both a built-in GPS and a built-in digital camera.  It was released in march of 2005 but didn't last long as it was unable to compete with the more-affordable Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.

4. Digiblast (Nikko) - Launched near the end of 2005, Nikko's Digiblast was a cheaper alternative to Nintendo's DS platform.  The handheld could be used for gaming and for watching cartoons such as Nintendo's Spongebob Squarepants, but it failed due to a shortage of chips upon its release date and a lack of consumer interest.

3.  R-Zone (Tiger) - It's like the Virtual Boy, only with more pre-installed fail.  Much like Tiger's single-title branded "games" that sold like hotcakes at K.B. Toys, the R-Zone gave its gamers pretty much the exact same gameplay no matter what title was being played.  To make things worse, the darn thing had to be strapped to your head to be able to play it.

2. Game.com (Tiger) - Pronounced "Game com" and not "Game-dot-com", Tiger had the right idea but couldn't get things to fall together when the company released this handheld in 1997.  The Game.com was one of the first (if not THE first) handheld gaming console that was operated like a PDA through the use of a stylus.  Unlike the other handhelds of the time, Game.com was targeted towards an older audience and featured 14.4kbps text-only internet access, but no online multiplayer support.  Unfortunately, sales for the device were almost non-existent.

1. N-Gage (Nokia) - Released in 2003, the N-Gage was a combination of cell phone, PDA, MP3 player, radio and handheld gaming device.  For all that it offered, the Nokia-made piece of hardware suffered from too many issues to make it successful.  As a cell phone, it was awkward to use and hold.  As a PDA, it was unappealing and as a gaming platform it was average at best.  The N-Gage's high pre-cell-activation price point didn't help its case.  Despite being supported by numerous game publishers and featuring titles such as Tomb Raider, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and  Rayman, the N-Gage met its well-deserved demise a few years ago.  The N-Gage service is still being supported but Nokia will be shutting its N-Gage servers down sometime this year.

- Game Guy Barry White bcwhite@news10.net

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