There must be a curse on companies named Tiger, because a completely different one also released a handheld console and it too failed horribly. The Gizmondo came out in 2005, and most consumers responded by asking “what the hell does Gizmondo mean?” Significantly fewer consumers actually bought the thing, because it only sold a paltry 25,000 units.
It was a pretty standard device, and in fact, it was probably its generic design that caused it to bomb. What really makes the Gizmondo story weird is that some of executives behind the console were revealed to have ties to the Swedish Mafia.
Now, we know what you’re saying. “There’s organised crime in Sweden?” Yes, apparently so, and if you don’t pay your debts they’ll track you down and break all your crappy IKEA furniture. But seriously, two of the head guys at Gizmondo had once made a living committing fraud, counterfeiting money, and beating the crap out of people who wouldn’t pay off their loans. They were in jail before developing the Gizmondo, and they spent some time in jail after as well. That’s a pretty damn hardcore background story for a machine that’s most controversial game was about mini-golf.
Remember Laserdiscs? Badass name for a terrible format? For those of you who don’t, they were basically DVDs except much, much larger physically and much, much smaller in terms of actual content. And back in 1993, Pioneer released a video game console based on them.
It cost a staggering 970 dollars, and this was during a time when Laserdiscs were declining in popularity. Not that they were ever that popular to begin with, but it’s not like it was some sort of mystical new technology that needed to be built with diamonds by expatriated Soviet scientists. No, it was just incredibly expensive for no obvious reason. But hey, at least its owners got to play classic games like 3-D Museum and Quiz Econosaurus.
Oh, and did we mention it had add-ons? Like a 350 dollar karaoke machine? And two 600 dollar devices that let you play games from other consoles, like the Sega Genesis? So for a mere 1570 dollars you could get a facsimile of a machine that cost a fraction of the price and played games that were actually fun! Wow! It’s no wonder the LaserActive was short lived, and we have to wonder just what they were thinking when they designed and priced it.
If you thought the LaserActive was a rip-off then be thankful that you never bought a Halcyon, which went on sale in 1985 for no less than 2500 dollars. To be fair, it wasn’t just a video game console; it also had an attached computer, and let’s hope that most people were buying it for that reason because a mere two games were all that were released for this monstrosity.
Strangest of all was the fact that the Halycon’s designers claimed the console would be entirely voice activated, and would be run by an artificial intelligence equal to that of HAL 9000 from A Space Odyssey. The former claim is laughable even by today’s voice recognition standards, and the latter ominously suggests that RDI was hoping the console would rebel and try to murder its owners.
The voice recognition got “yes” and “no” down pretty well, but after that the accuracy really plummeted. As for the sophisticated artificial intelligence program, it was basically limited to repeating what the console thought it heard from the user in a monotonous robotic voice, sort of like a sci-fi version of trying to communicate with foreign tourists. It was incredibly awkward to use, and when combined with its massive price tag it’s no wonder it failed terribly. You have to admire RDI’s ambitious vision, but trying to do so much with so little produced a gigantic and very weird failure.
- - Apple Bandai Pippin : http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8f/Pippinfront.jpg
- - Mattel Hyperscan : http://www.mydigitallife.info/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/mattel-hyperscan.jpg
- - Tiger game.com : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gamecomwithbox.JPG
- - Tiger Gizmondo : http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/ff/Gizmondo_Handheld.jpg
- - Pioneer LaserActive : http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b3/Pioneer_LaserActive_CLD-A100.jpg
- - RDI Halcyon : http://images.pcworld.com/reviews/graphics/168348-rdi_halcyon_slide.jpg