Ever heard of the Fairchild Channel F? How about the Epoch Cassette Vision? No? Maybe that’s because they’re two of the “Six Most Retarded Gaming Consoles Ever Released.”
The list, assembled by Cracked.com, features some consoles you may have heard of, and at least a few you almost certainly haven’t. The Vectrex, for instance, should be familiar to all gamers of a certain age, as will the reason for its abject failure to catch on: Two-color vector graphics that turned every game into white lines drawn on a black background. The solution? Small sheets of colored plastic that could be laid onto the screen to change the white lines to colors like red or blue. Genius!
Less familiar, at least to me, is the SuperGrafx, a 1989 successor to the TurboGrafx 16. While something of an also-ran in North America, the Japanese version of the TG16, known as the PC Engine, dominated the Japanese market, and thus NEC decided to improve the system’s graphics capabilities and offer a CD-ROM add-on.
All well and good, but for one fatal flaw: It was expensive as hell. The base system was $300 without the CD-ROM and SuperGrafx-specific games retailed for about $110 each; fortunately for budget-conscious yet weak-willed owners, only five SuperGrafx-specific games were ever actually made. The unit was backwards compatible with original PC Engine titles, but for people who already owned one of those systems the motivation for an upgrade was very slim.
Other entries on the list include the Atari 2600 predecessor Fairchild Channel F and the handheld train wreck from Sega, the Nomad. But are these really as bad as it gets? Most of these systems seem more like victims of their era than actual bad designs; it’s easy to hold certain assumptions about consoles now, but 30 years ago this was all brand-new territory. Criticism of the durability of the Channel F, for instance, described as “brittle as uncooked spaghetti,” seems particularly ironic in light of Microsoft’s Red Ring of Death fiasco. But hey, it’s not my list.
What do you think? Do these consoles really go “full retard,” or are they just home entertainment Rain Men who got a bad rap? Check out Cracked.com’s list of the “Six Most Retarded Gaming Consoles Ever Released” here, then let us know!