Three more bad Game Systems…

November 11, 2008 at 1:14 pm (Uncategorized)

Well, now things have moved on i’ve decided to get back to business. I got quite a few views on my last non-family post, so I decided to continue the theme of bad systems people don’t really know of.

It seems that there are more systems than I considered which were not covered. So here they all are; three of the worst machines ever to be constructed – GX4000, Phillips CD-i, and Pioneer Laseractive. Keep in mind i’m staying away from Mainstream machines – however I may do some of those in the future…

AMSTRAD GX4000

Its hard to say much about Amstrad’s attempt to break into the Videogame market. Basically, when the NES revived gaming in the second half of the 1980s, every company tried to jump on the bandwagon with their new machines. Most rebadged one of their computers and sold it as a gaming system. Along with many others, the Amstrad GX4000 was one of these machines.

Based on the successful CPC464 series computer, the machine was well behind its competitors. Despite having better colour and screen resolution than most 8-bit systems, the quality was well behind its 16-bit rivals, the Mega Drive and PC Engine/Turbografx-16. Coupled with a lack of games (mostly ports of older works on the CPC464 which were many years old) it wasn’t surprising that the machine was a flop.

Another system thrown on the pile of failed computer-based systems it seemed. Amstrad lost a lot of money, but continued on by getting into the business of building digital tv recievers, which they do to this day.

** Machines based on computers never work most of the time. Reason been that computers are designed for multiple tasks, while games machines are designed for playing Video Games. Despite me saying that, incoming soon are a flood of emails arguing about gaming PCs. Ah well… **

PHILLIPS CD-I

The Multimedia fad existed in the early 1990s. Many systems were released which had “Multimedia” titles available on it, loaded on CD-ROMs. Phillip’s own CD-i was built around a standard designed for allowing Video Playback with a programmable interface bolted on.

However, this placed it in a category of systems designed to run whatever shovelware developers could throw out. Most titles for the CD-i were hastily thrown-together interactive movies with whatever crap they could get their hands on. A CD with 20 1930s songs on it with an interface (“Golden Oldies”) was a good example of this. The machine’s weedy processor (a cut-down 68000) could run sprites and machine code directly, but it was a pain to do so, and the quality was pretty naff. As with the Interactive movies, they got any licences possible and built games around them. The CD-i software section was a landmine for crap, and thus very few games sold. Even the Nintendo Licences were poor sellers, due to the games been incredibly badly made, and not representing the original versions at all.

With just 570,000 systems sold at the stupidly high price of $600-800, the CD-i was a flop. Phillips never again entered the Video Game Market, but their rival – Sony – did. And they made a much better system called the Playstation. You may have heard of it.

** Phillips actually worked on a special version of the CD-i at first targetted as a CD-ROM drive for the SNES. Sony also worked on one. Both deals fell through, and the CD-ROM was dropped from Nintendo’s lineup for two generations of console. Its said that 90% of the hardware of the CD-i was based on the SNES CD-ROM’s hardware. The failure of the CD-i probably explained how bad the SNES’s Multimedia attempts would have been. **

PIONEER LASERACTIVE

The Laseractive will be well remembered… as how NOT to make a Video Games Console. A Multimedia System with a difference – it had a LaserDisc drive built-in. Also, it played games from different systems with add-on parts. Rather than go into a review, i’ll resort to bullet points to explain why the Laseractive never took off the ground…

  1. The machine was compatible with other systems… which cost a lot less than the Laseractive. If you bought all the other systems, it would still be less than the LaserActive. Not to mention…
  2. To play the different game cartridges, you needed extra plug-in modules which the console hardware. These were higher in price than the original systems themselves.
  3. The games for the system were stored on LaserDiscs. And believe me, a game disc the size of a large pizza isn’t the best thing to insert, take out, and store. Sure, it held a lot of video, but this meant…
  4. Yes, this was a Multimedia system. But as the Laserdiscs held a lot less video, halfway through the game you had to switch the disc side over. The multi-disc idea was fine with later CD games, but once again flicking the LaserDisc over without damaging was hard. The quality for video playback beat VHS and Video CD, but looked the same on a standard size TV.
  5. The machine was GIGANTIC. The size of multiple VCRs stacked on top of each other, this was unwieldy and hard to place on a crowded TV setup.
  6. To play CD-ROMs and CD-based Games, you needed the addon CD Drive. Which was even more expense.
  7. The console required different controllers for every different module. Which meant tons of the things plugged in at once.
  8. It cost around $2000, with addons coming in at $500 each. The most expensive console in gaming history.

I guess that sums up the machine.

** Never since the LaserActive has a console been released with so many parts missing from it. Basically, they tried to replicate the addons of the Mega Drive and failed. However, Mega Drive could play most games without the addons. Recently, things have been missing from System Software for usability rather than GamePlay. The PSP’s propietry video format is a good example of this. **

Anyway, hope you liked this post. I’ll probably do another in the future. Maybe Vapourware machines and a special on the “X86 Rush”…

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Its done and dusted.

November 9, 2008 at 3:58 pm (Uncategorized)

Finally, the funeral went ahead. On Thursday 6th November 2008, my Older Sister was laid to rest. Finally. Everyone will miss you, Jools.

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