"There were too few games": Hardly any explanation should be as plausible as to why a console ultimately flopped. After all, no matter how advanced the technology and no matter how promising a concept – if there aren't enough games for a platform in the end, nobody benefits. Even the experienced industry giant Nintendo was overwhelmed with this golden rule when it entered the market in 1996 with the Nintendo 64. The console was by no means a flop, but the Japanese lost their supremacy that they believed to be certain to the then newcomer Sony and its first Playstation. The main reason: The outdated module technology of the N64 unnecessarily restricted game developers, which is why especially experienced role-playing game manufacturers such as Squaresoft (Final Fantasy) or Enix (Dragon Quest) switched camps and preferred to produce for Sony's CD console.

Fortunately, Nintendo always had enough stamina, was able to easily stay afloat thanks to exemplary sales in the handheld sector and almost completely recovered at the latest with Wii and Switch. But our next case already shows that such a competition can also turn out very differently …


Sega was once one of the most popular console manufacturers, even if the Japanese constantly had to accept new failures. The Mega Drive, which is coveted both in Europe and the USA, was not a big hit in the Far East, for example, while the other way around, the Saturn stayed like lead on the shelves in this country.






The 3DO already shone in 1993 with fully textured polygon games like Total Eclipse and thus came the PlayStation a year earlier. (1)



The 3DO already shone in 1993 with fully textured polygon games like Total Eclipse and thus came the PlayStation a year earlier. (1)

Source: plassma media agency




Nevertheless, Sega did not want to give up so quickly and drew his last trump card with the Dreamcast. The console appeared in Japan at the end of 1998 and, in terms of technology, beat all competitors available to date by far. Unfortunately, it wasn't released for the western market until a year later, and the time advantage was gone. In the meantime, Sony had officially announced the Playstation 2 and enticed with a revolutionary feature at the time that turned out to be a real game changer: The black box was able to play DVD films – in contrast to the Dreamcast, on which an exotic GD-ROM Drive was used.

Because Sega didn't understand how to bring Dreamcast to men and women with striking slogans, the manufacturer lost again to the concentrated marketing power of Sony and a little later to Microsoft and the first Xbox. Even the numerous hits from Power Stone to Crazy Taxi to Shenmue, which could originally only be played on the Dreamcast, did not prevent Sega from saying goodbye as a hardware manufacturer and concentrating on developing games in the future.

Never had a real chance

Our next candidate has had a similar background to Sega's, except that he accomplished the feat with one console rather than three. We're talking about NEC and the PC Engine: The device appeared in 1987 in the midst of the change from the 8-bit to the 16-bit generation and was able to keep up with the Mega Drive that followed a year later, both graphically and musically. Thanks to capable developers like Hudson, Namco and Irem, the console benefited from highly impressive arcade adaptations, including R-Type, Galaga 88 and Mr. Heli.

The PC Engine achieved cult status among video game freaks, especially in Germany. This was mainly due to the extensive coverage of the games magazines Aktueller Markt (ASM for short) and Power Play, which tested all the important PC engine highlights and honored strong games such as Gunhed or Final Match Tennis with exceptionally high ratings. In addition, a CD-ROM drive for the console followed in 1988. And even if the first CD titles such as Fighting Street were anything but perfect, fantastic game fun pearls such as Ys Book 1 & 2, Dracula X: Rondo of Blood or Seirei Senshi Spriggan inspired enthusiasm over the years.






The games for the 3DO were sold in small jewel cases as well as in nice large boxes.



The games for the 3DO were sold in small jewel cases as well as in nice large boxes.

Source: plassma media agency




Now there was a really stupid catch to the whole thing: the PC Engine never appeared in Germany! First of all, NEC put the US release in the sand: There the console debuted under the name TurboGrafx only in mid-1989 and thus only a few weeks before the Mega Drive, with which NEC had completely gambled away the lead from Japan. On the other hand, the company invested far too much money in preproduction, which an article published by Gamasutra in 2014 explained in great detail. As a result, the NEC boardroom was pounding at 750,000 units at the time of publication, so that there was hardly any money left for solid marketing.

For these reasons, TurboGrafx flopped in the USA, and a subsequent release in Europe was out of the question. The console was officially only sold in individual countries such as England, France or Spain, but in the form of a carelessly marketed import. The summit of humiliation: Although many German game fans still have a big heart for the PC Engine due to the reporting in ASM and Power Play at the time, they were passed over again at the beginning of 2020. At this point in time, the successful mini version PC Engine CoreGrafx appeared, which combines almost all the important game highlights and is one of the most loving console replicas.






The menu of the PC Engine Mini is literally bursting with brilliant games. Nevertheless, just like the original console, the device was never officially marketed in Germany.



The menu of the PC Engine Mini is literally bursting with brilliant games. Nevertheless, just like the original console, the device was never officially marketed in Germany.

Source: plassma media agency




Atari's desperate attempts to return to market leadership

So far, we've focused on consoles that have a good reputation despite disappointing sales. However, this does not necessarily apply to the many attempts by the former industry pioneer Atari, who sawed himself to pieces within a decade. The first big blow came in 1982 when the management team made one nonsensical decision after another. Due to an overproduction of Atari 2600 modules as well as the rather tolerably improved successor Atari 5200, the US group made heavy losses. Marked by the associated big video game crash, the Atari division for home computers and video game consoles was bought by the former Commodore boss Jack Tramiel.






In the nicely designed Atari Jaguar packs, there were often small cardboard cards next to the module and the instructions. This one clamped over the small keyboard of the joypad and could see from the symbols at first glance which key triggered which function.



In the nicely designed Atari Jaguar packs, there were often small cardboard cards next to the module and the instructions. This one clamped over the small keyboard of the joypad and could see from the symbols at first glance which key triggered which function.

Source: plassma media agency




At least a decent computer followed with the Atari ST in 1985, whereas the Atari 7800 could in no way keep up with the technically powerful Nintendo Entertainment System. At the same time, game developer Epyx had a groundbreaking idea and designed a portable video game device, the cell phone. Unfortunately, the Californians were in financial difficulties and therefore needed a partner. While the top Japanese companies all canceled, in the end only one was left: Atari.

Despite the deal, Epyx went bankrupt that same year. Suddenly Atari had a technically extremely advanced child prodigy in the truest sense of the word. It had a color display and a very powerful graphics chip that could continuously enlarge or reduce objects – mind you a year before the Super Nintendo! Although the resolution of 160×102 pixels was quite low, shrewd game developers could compensate for this deficiency thanks to the rich color palette.






Bad games like Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy (1993) ensured that the Atari Jaguar had a lousy reputation from the start.



Bad games like Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy (1993) ensured that the Atari Jaguar had a lousy reputation from the start.

Source: plassma media agency




The cell phone was eventually renamed the Atari Lynx and could actually have been a huge success. Unfortunately, the great technology came at a high price, so that Atari estimated just under 180 US dollars for the bulky handheld for the US release at the end of 1989 and a proud 399 D-Marks in Germany the following year. On top of that, there were problems with power consumption; Depending on the batteries used, the Lynx would go out the lights within one to four hours.

All of that would have been half as wild if Nintendo hadn't mixed up the market with the Game Boy at the same time. The small gray box could only display a handful of shades of green, but the batteries lasted up to 15 hours at a time, the acquisition costs were half as expensive and numerous top titles such as Tetris or Super Mario Land appealed to an unusually large number of non-players. In addition, in contrast to the Lynx, the Game Boy was nice and small and compact, which is why it was much easier to take with you anywhere.

Also popular with PC games readers Sonic the Hedgehog, published in 1991, was a stroke of luck for Sega. The lightning-fast platformer became a favorite with the public and made the blue racing hedgehog the Sega mascot. "Src =" https://www.pcgames.de/screenshots/237x133/2020/12/segamegadrive01-pc-games_b2teaser_169 .jpg

30 years of Sega Mega Drive in Europe: 16 bits for a hallelujah

In retrospect, we explore the history of the Sega Mega Drive and explain how Sega tripped the market leader Nintendo back then.

Atari was hit even worse with the infamous Jaguar, with which they seriously wanted to compete with the next generation of consoles in the form of Playstation, Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64. This time the Americans relied on the time advantage over the Japanese and put the console on the market as early as 1993. An aggressive advertising campaign wanted to refer potential buyers to the alleged 64-bit capability, as Sony, Sega and Co. still rely on disdainful 32-bit. But in the end the technical aspect didn't matter because the layman didn't understand the difference anyway and – much worse – the games definitely didn't look any better.

Last but not least, the Atari Jaguar failed because of its much too complicated hardware. In short: It was a horror to develop a game for the device or to implement it from another system. With Tempest 2000 or Alien vs Predator some technically very competent titles appeared. But the bottom line was that the offer was far too poor to hold its own against the concentrated power from the Far East.






The dogfight simulation Warbirds (1991) was one of the most technically impressive games for the Atari Lynx. The developers made excellent use of the handheld's advanced graphics chip.



The dogfight simulation Warbirds (1991) was one of the most technically impressive games for the Atari Lynx. The developers made excellent use of the handheld's advanced graphics chip.

Source: plassma media agency




The doomed rebellion

Almost at the same time as the Jaguar debacle, something else wanted to get into the lucrative video game business: Trip Hawkins, the former boss of Electronic Arts. The man had a dream and founded the company 3DO in 1991 to revolutionize the market with a state-of-the-art console. Hawkins primarily relied on the still young CD-ROM medium, which on the one hand provided significantly more storage space than a normal module and, on the other hand, required dramatically lower production costs per unit.

Hawkins also knew all too well how competitive the console market was. So he lured the game developers with a fabulous offer and asked a mere three dollars for every CD sold, while Nintendo or Sega earned a multiple for their modules. Unfortunately, the calculation was made without the brutal reality, after all, the competition was asking for so much money for a reason. This was the only way to bring the most advanced console possible to the market at the lowest possible price. Hawkins, on the other hand, had to make up for the deficit through profit in hardware sales.






The games for the 3DO were sold in small jewel cases as well as in nice large boxes.



The games for the 3DO were sold in small jewel cases as well as in nice large boxes.

Source: plassma media agency




In addition, there was the rather daring idea that 3DO should not produce any devices itself. Instead, the license was sold to established electronics manufacturers such as Panasonic, Goldstar and Samsung. So it was no wonder that the price was adventurously high in the end – a 3DO console was available for just under $ 700 for the US release. For comparison: Two years earlier, the Super Nintendo cost 200 dollars, while two years later even Sega's Saturn was significantly cheaper at 400 dollars.
The 3DO was supplied with decent games for about two years, mostly from Electronic Arts. The developer cleverly used the technical advantages of the hardware, which among other things resulted in the best FIFA version of the time. In addition, completely new franchises such as the racing game series The Need for Speed ​​celebrated their debut at the 3DO. When Sony's PlayStation appeared in Europe and the USA in 1995 and passed 3DO from scratch, EA left its former boss mercilessly out in the rain.






Only on the CD-i can you play the infamous Link: Die Gratzen des Böse from 1993. In addition, the device could play video CDs, although depending on the series module, the additional purchase of a digital video cartridge was necessary.



Only on the CD-i can you play the infamous Link: Die Gratzen des Böse from 1993. In addition, the device could play video CDs, although depending on the series module, the additional purchase of a digital video cartridge was necessary.

Source: plassma media agency






As a result, the idea failed because of their much too high ambitions and the resulting purchase price, which forced many video game enthusiasts to sell their old console and games. A decision that he must have bitterly regretted a good 20 years later when he first saw the current Ebay prices for well-preserved Super Nintendo modules …
As an aside, the debacle surrounding Philips CD-i should also be mentioned, which also triumphed with CD technology and, on top of that, wanted to lure customers with hip multimedia capabilities. Philips even managed a one-time deal with Nintendo and received the licenses from Mario and Zelda. But the games developed exclusively for the CD-i were boring at best (Hotel Mario) – and at worst they were unplayable junk (Link: The Grimaces of Evil). The CD-i quickly sank into oblivion.

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