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15 Obscure Video Game Consoles You've Probably Never Heard Of

September 2, 2020 149 votes 22 voters15 items

These days, the market of video game consoles is dominated by the big three: Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. Back when games were first coming about, however, there were plenty of other gaming companies that were trying to get their hands on a piece of the pie. While some of these smaller companies were successful, many others crashed and burned (with some harder than others). Plenty of console developers came about only to shut down a few years later, and even big names like Sega and Nintendo weren't immune to producing a few duds. Just look at the Virtual Boy.

While gaming is an industry that is constantly looking forward, we're taking a step back by looking at some of the most obscure gaming consoles you've probably never heard of, most of which failed catastrophically. Sure, there are plenty of old video game consoles that were exclusive to Japan, but for this list, we're focusing solely on consoles that were released in the States.

From handhelds to headsets to add-ons and more, check out some of the best (and worst) unknown game consoles of yesteryear and see just how many forgotten consoles you still remember.

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  • 1

    Atari Lynx

    Atari Lynx is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 15 Obscure Video Game Consoles You've Probably Never Heard Of
    Video: YouTube

    Lifespan: 1989-1995

    The Atari Lynx was an early competitor of the Game Boy, along with other handheld consoles like the Game Gear. It was actually the first handheld to feature a color LCD screen, which allowed for more advanced graphics. There was even a second generation called the Lynx II, which featured a better battery life and improved hardware.

    While the Lynx sold fairly well, in 1993 Atari shifted focus to the upcoming release of the Jaguar, which ironically also was a commercial flop compared to the PlayStation and the Saturn. As of 1995, support for the Lynx was quietly discontinued, and it was inducted into the console graveyard.

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      TurboGrafx-16

      TurboGrafx-16 is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 15 Obscure Video Game Consoles You've Probably Never Heard Of
      Video: YouTube

      Lifespan: 1987–94

      The TurboGrafx-16, otherwise known as the PC Engine in Japan and France, was a 16-bit console designed by Japanese game developer Hudson Soft and sold by Japanese tech company NEC Home Electronics released in 1987. The console was originally supposed to compete with the 8-bit NES, but a delayed release in the US meant that it ended up against both the Sega Genesis and the SNES, which were just as powerful, and offered a wider selection of games.

      While seventeen different models of the TurboGrafx were ultimately created, the console's less-than-stellar run came to a close in 1994.

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      • ColecoVision is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 15 Obscure Video Game Consoles You've Probably Never Heard Of
        Video: YouTube

        Lifespan: 1982-85

        While the Atari was the defacto video game console of the late ‘70s and ‘80s, a handful of competitors were also trying to break into the market. Chief among them was the ColecoVision, which actually included Donkey Kong in its original games lineup. Throughout the console’s run, approximately 145 games were released.

        One of the things that originally made the Coleco so special was all the various add-ons and expansion modules that were introduced. Initially poised to become the biggest video game console at the time, the market essentially crashed in 1983, and by the next year the Coleco was well on its way to the video game graveyard. While it's often credited for laying the groundwork for many subsequent consoles, the ColecoVision is rarely mentioned these days.

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      • 4

        The 3DO

        The 3DO is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 15 Obscure Video Game Consoles You've Probably Never Heard Of
        Video: YouTube

        Lifespan: 1993-96

        The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer was a home game console created by The 3DO Company, which is notable for being founded by Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins. It was yet another console that had an aggressive marketing campaign, even being named the "1993 Product of the Year" by Time Magazine. However, as one might guess considering the title of this list, it didn't exactly help.

        The foremost issues were that the console was far too expensive for the average consumer and that it was being released into an already overly competitive market. The 3DO just couldn't seem to gain the traction it needed, leading to its discontinuation in 1996, only three years after its debut.

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