Five Video Game Systems That Didn’t Make it Past Beta

by Drew Hendricks

When the arcades blossomed in the 80’s, kids used them as hanging out spots and true epicenters of social interaction. Though home consoles existed years prior (the Atari 2600 debuted in 1977) it was only a matter of time until developers and designers began truly popularizing home consoles. With Nintendo, they truly hit the public consciousness and became household entities. Yet many systems were not as fortunate as the Nintendo Entertainment System. Whether it was inflated budgets, bankruptcy, or just plain awful ideas, some systems never saw the light of day. Below are five of those memorable systems that you probably never played because they never really existed at all. Some fall victim to just being flat-out dumb, and others unfortunately never obtained financial bankroll to justify their creation. 

5. Ultravision

The Ultravision could have redefined gaming and brought many classic consoles to complete obsolescence DURING their popularity. The Ultravision was created as a console that could play Colecovision, Atari 2600, and Intellivision games. Merging these system together could have been revolutionary, and saved buyers shelf space and time with three mediocre systems (let’s be honest here). It would also have its own run of games, independent of any of these systems. Of course, the idea sounds practical and totally phenomenal for those who wanted multiple games across multiple platforms. But in reality, it’s pretty absurd, and you can’t be at all surprised at its non-existence. Merging multiple consoles? No wonder it never got off the ground. But it does bring up the idea of a master console that can play everything from Xbox 360 titles to Nintendo 64 to Atari. Too bad we live in reality.

4. AT&T’s CDO

The AT&T CDO sounds like a system that could play video games while simultaneously answering phone calls. Though AT&T never fully delved into the home console market, this ugly little brick box of a system was an interesting concept that probably would have amounted to little if it ever existed beyond its beta stasis. Promising quality graphics and titles, the system wasn’t obtaining enough buzz to justify AT&T doing much with it. Out of all the systems listed, this one is probably the least known. Expect it to come up in a video game trivia thing.

3.  The Phantom

The Phantom is a more modern inclusion. Promising downloadable games and Internet service, the Phantom was sort of ahead of its time. it dawned some ideas that were better implemented in the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, but still never fully realized even with those systems. The system never saw the light of day when developer Infinium ran out of money and couldn’t backroll its full creation. Unlike other consoles that floated indefinitely in beta, only to be cancelled justifiably, the Phantom had a lot of promise and could have been something to really jumpstart the gaming world to what you can project to see in 2015.

2. Super Nintendo CD-ROM

Nintendo originally flirted with the idea of using cd-roms for its new Super Nintendo CD-Rom system that, for better or worse, never became realized. Nintendo partnered briefly with Sony to bring the system to fruition. When Nintendo worked behind their backs, with a company called Phillips (who specialized in cd-rom technology) legal chaos ensued and the system was scrapped in favor for what would end up inevitably being the cartridge-based software system, the Nintendo 64. You can’t exactly say it was a horror story for Nintendo, but let’s just say the Playstation one-upped them in technology and all gamers got were terrible CD-Rom based Zelda and Mario titles. These games are so infamously bad they’re notorious for being jokes.

1. Sega  Neptune

The Sega Neptune wasn’t necessarily the nail in the coffin for Sega’s home console dreams, but it surely didn’t help. When the Sega Genesis was released, it was a modest hit. Sega had plans to release a system that combined their “extraordinary” new technology of the Sega Genesis with the proposed success of the 32X System. This system was to be called the Sega Neptune. Sega released the 32X System in hopes of retaining their status as console developers and it flopped with immensity. Afterwards, the entire idea of combining a soon to be improved Sega Genesis (in the Sega Saturn) and a failed system 9the 32X) seemed like a horrid idea. Whether warehouses of built Sega Neptune’s exist or not, we can be sure that the system will never amount to anything. It’s sort of a shame because Sega did get something right with Sega Dreamcast, but even that system’s failure could be partly attributed to Sega’s poor track record- and the Sega Neptune.

All these systems differ in their reasons for failure, but it is fun to explore how the gaming industry might be different if any of these systems came to fruition. Perhaps one system to destroy them all? Maybe nothing of consequence at all? We shall never know.


  1. hallam June 7, 2012
  2. the lone gamer June 8, 2012
  3. Ricardo Montalban June 8, 2012
  4. MrMan June 8, 2012
  5. JCR June 8, 2012

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