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Wikimedia Commons

10 Video Game Consoles That Were Big Disappointments

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

At this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, Sony and Microsoft will be unveiling their newest next-generation video game consoles with the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, respectively. Only one of these gaming systems has the ability to be the No. 1 seller in the video game console market, so the only question is which one will dominate. Along the way, other companies will release their latest-and-greatest to very little fanfare or utter disappointment and failure. Here are 10 consoles that didn't live up to the hype.

1. Gizmondo (2005)

Although the handheld gaming console was more technically advanced than others at the time, the Gizmondo suffered from its hefty $400 premium price tag. Tiger Telematics also offered an ad-supported $229 model, but consumers became frustrated with the bombardment of promotions it offered. Without third-party support from game developers, the Gizmondo failed to attract consumers and was discontinued less than one year after its launch. 

2. Nokia N-Gage  (2003) 

Nokia’s first mobile device/handheld gaming console hybrid, N-Gage, was terribly designed, which garnered it a not-go-great nickname: "The Taco Phone." Whether it was being used as a gaming system or a phone, the user experience was poor: People had to remove the device’s battery to locate the game cartridge drive, and had to turn the N-Gage to its side to place phone calls. Although Nokia supported the N-Gage for seven years after its release, the handheld system only sold a small fraction of what other top-tier handhelds like the Nintendo Gameboy Advance sold.

3. Sega CD & 32X (1992, 1994)

In the early 90s, the Sega Genesis was on top of the video game food chain. They gained a bigger market share than Nintendo because of their innovations and emphasis on a great gaming experience. Feeling the pressure to release a video game console that was superior to the Super Nintendo, Sega released the Sega CD add-on that enhanced gameplay with CD-based video games. While the Sega CD was a top seller, its games were not as interactive and therefore less fun than regular Genesis games.

A few years later, Sega once again felt the pressure to release a 32-bit system and extend the longevity of the Sega Genesis. Instead of building a new console, Sega released another add-on that sat on top of the Sega Genesis called the 32X. It only lasted a year; in 1995, Sega released the Sega Saturn.

4. TurboGrafx-16 (1989)

Although its name would imply a full 16-bit video game console, TurboGrafx-16 was only an 8-bit system with a 16-bit graphics processor. The video game console lacked third-party support from game developers, who spent most of their energy with more wide spread video game consoles from Nintendo and Sega.

TurboGrafx-16 also lacked a two-player controller port, which upset gamers who wanted to play games with their friends. While the TurboGrafx-16 was a big seller in Japan, it failed to gain traction in North America.

5. 3DO (1993)

Touted as the most advanced video game system at the time, 3DO didn’t suffer from lack of third-party support. In fact, developing for the 3DO was relatively easy—the 3DO Company only charged $3 to publishers to develop games as compared to Nintendo and Sega’s publishing fees, which were about $15 each.

Although the console had a large array of games, the system itself had a brawny $700 price tag at launch that resulted in low sales. The 3DO was eventually discontinued two years later in 1995.

6. Philips CD-i (1991)

While Philips didn’t design the CD-i to be a video game consoleit was originally used for educational purposesafter low sales the Dutch company re-tooled the CD-i for the video game market. With lack of support from third-party video game publishers, gamers found themselves moving toward Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo 64 instead. Once Philips discontinued the video game console in 1998, it was rumored that Philips lost just less than a billion dollars on the CD-i.

7. Atari Jaguar (1993)

The first ever 64-bit video game console, the Atari Jaguar was the last nail in the coffin for the pioneering video game company. The Jaguar’s controller was giant and unwieldy—in fact, IGN named it the worst video game controller of all-time. The lack of Jaguar sales bankrupted Atari and forced the video game company to sell off the design of the Jaguar to Imagin Systems, which is a dental supply company that turned the Jaguar’s plastic shell into a dental camera.

8. Apple Pippin (1995) 

Apple Computers partnered with Bandai Company to create a video game/computer hybrid. The Apple Pippin was one of a long line of failed products from Apple during the mid-90s, including the Apple PowerCD, the Macintosh TV, and the Apple Quicktake Camera. Apple and Bandai only released 18 games for the Apple Pippin that ranged from interactive educational to racing games.

Once Steve Jobs returned to Apple Computers in 1997, he discontinued almost every current Apple product in the market or in development, including the Apple Pippin.

9. Nintendo Virtualboy (1995)

Legendary video game designer Gunpei Yokoi conceived the Virtualboy, Nintendo's first 3D video game console, as a follow up to his highly successful Gameboy handheld video game console. The Virtualboy’s limitations included the ability to only display two colors, red and black, which disinterested gamers who were used to full-color gaming.

The console also came with a warning to not play the Virtualboy for an extended period of time because it would give users excessive eyestrain and massive headaches. Nintendo only released 14 games in the United States for the Virtualboy, and the not-so-portable gaming system was discontinued just 7 months after its debut.

10. Sega Dreamcast (1999)

After losing good faith from gamers with the releases of the Sega CD, 32X, and Sega Saturn, Sega had one more chance to impress gamers and convert Sony PlayStation fans to their new-and-improved brand. On September 9, 1999 (or 9-9-99), Sega released the Dreamcast, an advanced video game console. There was an extraordinary amount of high quality games available at launch, including Sonic Adventure, Soulcalibur, and Tokyo Xtreme Racer. The system was also ahead of its time with its advanced controller, interactive memory cards, and the capability to connect to the Internet.

So why is the Sega Dreamcast a failed video game console? While the price of the Dreamcast was competitive at launch—it retailed for $199it couldn’t outsell the PlayStation 2, which was released the following year. Unable to sell the Dreamcast—and despite the fact that the company was actually giving away units if users signed up for SegaNet, the Dreamcast online video game networkSega discontinued the Dreamcast in 2001 and moved away from making video game consoles altogether to focus on developing video games for other platforms.

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15 Confusing Plant and Animal Misnomers
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People have always given names to the plants and animals around us. But as our study of the natural world has developed, we've realized that many of these names are wildly inaccurate. In fact, they often have less to say about nature than about the people who did the naming. Here’s a batch of these befuddling names.

1. COMMON NIGHTHAWK

There are two problems with this bird’s name. First, the common nighthawk doesn’t fly at night—it’s active at dawn and dusk. Second, it’s not a hawk. Native to North and South America, it belongs to a group of birds with an even stranger name: Goatsuckers. People used to think that these birds flew into barns at night and drank from the teats of goats. (In fact, they eat insects.)

2. IRISH MOSS

It’s not a moss—it’s a red alga that lives along the rocky shores of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Irish moss and other red algae give us carrageenan, a cheap food thickener that you may have eaten in gummy candies, soy milk, ice cream, veggie hot dogs, and more.

3. FISHER-CAT

Native to North America, the fisher-cat isn’t a cat at all: It’s a cousin of the weasel. It also doesn’t fish. Nobody’s sure where the fisher cat’s name came from. One possibility is that early naturalists confused it with the sea mink, a similar-looking creature that was an expert fisher. But the fisher-cat prefers to eat land animals. In fact, it’s one of the few creatures that can tackle a porcupine.

4. AMERICAN BLUE-EYED GRASS

American blue-eyed grass doesn’t have eyes (which is good, because that would be super creepy). Its blue “eyes” are flowers that peek up at you from a meadow. It’s also not a grass—it’s a member of the iris family.

5. MUDPUPPY

The mudpuppy isn’t a cute, fluffy puppy that scampered into some mud. It’s a big, mucus-covered salamander that spends all of its life underwater. (It’s still adorable, though.) The mudpuppy isn’t the only aquatic salamander with a weird name—there are many more, including the greater siren, the Alabama waterdog, and the world’s most metal amphibian, the hellbender.

6. WINGED DRAGONFISH

This weird creature has other fantastic and inaccurate names: brick seamoth, long-tailed dragonfish, and more. It’s really just a cool-looking fish. Found in the waters off of Asia, it has wing-like fins, and spends its time on the muddy seafloor.

7. NAVAL SHIPWORM

The naval shipworm is not a worm. It’s something much, much weirder: a kind of clam with a long, wormlike body that doesn’t fit in its tiny shell. It uses this modified shell to dig into wood, which it eats. The naval shipworm, and other shipworms, burrow through all sorts of submerged wood—including wooden ships.

8. WHIP SPIDERS

These leggy creatures are not spiders; they’re in a separate scientific family. They also don’t whip anything. Whip spiders have two long legs that look whip-like, but that are used as sense organs—sort of like an insect’s antennae. Despite their intimidating appearance, whip spiders are harmless to humans.

9. VELVET ANTS

A photograph of a velvet ant
Craig Pemberton, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

There are thousands of species of velvet ants … and all are wasps, not ants. These insects have a fuzzy, velvety look. Don’t pat them, though—velvet ants aren’t aggressive, but the females pack a powerful sting.

10. SLOW WORM

The slow worm is not a worm. It’s a legless reptile that lives in parts of Europe and Asia. Though it looks like a snake, it became legless through a totally separate evolutionary path from the one snakes took. It has many traits in common with lizards, such as eyelids and external ear holes.

11. TRAVELER'S PALM

This beautiful tree from Madagascar has been planted in tropical gardens all around the world. It’s not actually a palm, but belongs to a family that includes the bird of paradise flower. In its native home, the traveler’s palm reproduces with the help of lemurs that guzzle its nectar and spread pollen from tree to tree.

12. VAMPIRE SQUID

Drawing of a vampire squid
Carl Chun, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This deep-sea critter isn’t a squid. It’s the only surviving member of a scientific order that has characteristics of both octopuses and squids. And don’t let the word “vampire” scare you; it only eats bits of falling marine debris (dead stuff, poop, and so on), and it’s only about 11 inches long.

13. MALE FERN & LADY FERN

Early botanists thought that these two ferns belonged to the same species. They figured that the male fern was the male of the species because of its coarse appearance. The lady fern, on the other hand, has lacy fronds and seemed more ladylike. Gender stereotypes aside, male and lady Ferns belong to entirely separate species, and almost all ferns can make both male and female reproductive cells. If ferns start looking manly or womanly to you, maybe you should take a break from botany.

14. TENNESSEE WARBLER

You will never find a single Tennessee warbler nest in Tennessee. This bird breeds mostly in Canada, and spends the winter in Mexico and more southern places. But early ornithologist Alexander Wilson shot one in 1811 in Tennessee during its migration, and the name stuck.

15. CANADA THISTLE

Though it’s found across much of Canada, this spiky plant comes from Europe and Asia. Early European settlers brought Canada thistle seeds to the New World, possibly as accidental hitchhikers in grain shipments. A tough weed, the plant soon spread across the continent, taking root in fields and pushing aside crops. So why does it have this inaccurate name? Americans may have been looking for someone to blame for this plant—so they blamed Canada.

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

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18 Tea Infusers to Make Teatime More Exciting
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Cost Plus World Market

Make steeping tea more fun with these quirky tea infusers.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. SOAKING IT UP; $7.49

man-shaped tea infuser
Amazon

That mug of hot water might eventually be a drink for you, but first it’s a hot bath for your new friend, who has special pants filled with tea.

Buy on Amazon.

2. A FLYING TEA BOX; $25.98

There’s no superlaser on this Death Star, just tea.

Buy on Amazon.

3. SPACE STATION; $9.99

astronaut tea infuser
ThinkGeek

This astronaut's mission? Orbit the rim of your mug until you're ready to pull the space station diffuser out.

Buy on ThinkGeek.

4. BE REFINED; $12.99

This pipe works best with Earl Grey.

Buy on Amazon.

5. A RIBBITING OPTION; $10.93

This frog hangs on to the side of your mug with a retractable tongue. When the tea is ready, you can put him back on his lily pad.

Buy on Amazon.

6. ‘TEA’ ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE; $5.95

It’s just like the movie, only with tea instead of Beatles.

Buy on Amazon.

7. SHARK ATTACK; $6.99

shark tea infuser
Cost Plus World Market

This fearsome shark patrols the bottom of your mug waiting for prey. For extra fun, use red tea to look like the end of a feeding frenzy.

Buy at Cost Plus World Market.

8. PERFECT FOR A RAINY DAY; $12.40

This umbrella’s handle conveniently hooks to the side of your mug.

Buy on Amazon.

9. AN EGGCELLENT INFUSER; $5.75

cracked egg tea infuser
Amazon

Sometimes infusers are called tea eggs, and this one takes the term to a new, literal level.

Buy on Amazon.

10. FOR SQUIRRELY DRINKERS; $8.95

If you’re all right with a rodent dunking its tail into your drink, this is the infuser for you.

Buy on Amazon.

11. HANGING OUT; $12.85

This pug is happy to hang onto your mug and keep you company while you wait for the tea to be ready.

Buy on Amazon.

12. ANOTHER SHARK OPTION; $5.99

If you thought letting that other shark infuser swim around in the deep water of your glass was too scary, this one perches on the edge, too busy comping on your mug to worry about humans.

Buy on Amazon.

13. RUBBER DUCKIE, YOU’RE THE ONE; $8.95

Let this rubber duckie peacefully float in your cup and make teatime lots of fun.

Buy on Amazon.

14. DIVING DEEP; $8.25

This old-timey deep-sea diver comes with an oxygen tank that you can use to pull it out.

Buy on Amazon.

15. MAKE SWEET TEA; $10

This lollipop won't actually make your tea any sweeter, but you can always add some sugar after.

Buy on Amazon.

16. A SEASONAL FAVORITE; $7.67

When Santa comes, give him some tea to go with the cookies.

Buy on Amazon.

17. FLORAL TEA; $14.99

Liven up any cup of tea with this charming flower. When you’re done, you can pop it right back into its pot.

Buy on Live Infused.

18. KEEP IT TRADITIONAL; $7.97

If you’re nostalgic for the regular kind of tea bag, you can get reusable silicon ones that look almost the same.

Buy on Amazon.

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