10 Weirdest Game Consoles of All Time

weirdest consoles
weirdest consoles

A little while ago, we ranked the 25 best video game consoles of all time. 25 covers a lot of systems and a lot of video game history, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface of how many different pieces of hardware have been released around the world over the past several decades. Some consoles were ambitious but doomed. Others amounted to little more than a depressing effort to make a quick buck.

And somewhere among all of them, from systems that could keep your beer cool, to oddities trying to get in on the popularity of VHS and laserdisc, you’ve got some very, very weird video game consoles out there.

Let’s see just how strange it’s been over the years with this look at the weirdest game consoles ever released.


10. Bud Light BL6 Console

When it comes to the functional marketing gimmick known as the Bud Light BL6 “console”, we can only stare in wonder, and dream of a video console that can also cool as many as two whole beers! It also runs a projector for your games, which honestly is kind of neat.

Released in 2020, a small batch was sold online, with the proceeds going to charity. While silly, this mini-computer shaped into a six pack of Bud Light was clearly built by people who wanted something that wasn’t just promoting a brand, although it did that in no uncertain terms.

The BL6 can play games like Tekken 7 and Soulcalibur 6, as well as a few other games that came packed in with the system. Unfortunately, that’s it for titles you can play without some tinkering, but the fact that it works, and by all accounts works fairly well running on Windows 10, is kind of impressive. Just don’t expect to find one for sale very often, if ever.

9. Mattel HyperScan

There’s a good enough chance that if you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember this horrible little piece of plastic nothingness. A weird half-hearted effort by Mattel, releasing to stores in October 2006, the Mattel HyperScan is an extremely unpleasant-to-hold-let-alone-use controller, a card system that insisted players swap out cards in the console just to play as a different character, and graphics that would have looked pretty good in 1999.

There were also some pretty dreadful games, including 3 of the worst games ever released under the Marvel banner. Only 5 games total were ever released, and after being almost universally panned, the Mattel HyperScan died quietly in 2007. Imagine Skylanders but even worse and you have half an idea of how terrible this thing was.


8. Ouya

This bizarre little cube had a lot of potential behind it when it was released in 2013. An affordable gaming device that promised a deep, talented community to help shape its future? It was a solid concept, and even bad reviews of the OUYA pointed out that with a little time and some firmware updates, the system could overcome most of its shortcomings, which came down to uninspired performance across the board. The controller also kind of sucked.

Unfortunately, those updates never happened. The games themselves never rose above the level of being about as good as the mobile games of the day. Despite its low cost and a relatively decent amount of power beneath its little cubed body, the OUYA just couldn’t get out of the gate. Less than 200,000 units were sold during its 2-year lifespan, which at least saw fun controversy over some funding headaches.


7. Action Max

Action Max
Action Max

There’s an impressive amount of hubris behind Action Max and its notion that people would be willing to play a video game console that ran on freaking video tapes. If that’s not bad enough, it also required a hookup to an actual VCR, which at the time of this ugly grey console’s release in 1987, still ran you about US$100+. But the system made big promises over being able to play games whose interactivity with the live action footage on the screen would make players feel as though they were truly part of the action.

Which didn’t even remotely happen when people played this dull little garbage heap. Only 5 games were made, including one based on the 1983 helicopter movie Blue Thunder, and all of them reminded you that the Action Max couldn’t output to the TV, and “game over” only happened when the stupid tape ran out. The Action Max disappeared within a year and literally no one cared.


6. View-Master Interactive Vision


“Come on,” you might be saying at this point. “You can’t just combine words and shape the fabric of reality with something as ridiculous as a video game system from the guys who owned the trademark on the anachronistic View-Master.” Unfortunately, it’s true, and the View-Master Interactive Vision is one of the more infamous consoles we’ve covered so far.

Look at that controller. Just look at it.

Besides having one of the worst controllers ever made, the View-Master Interactive Vision also decided “Maybe the VCR thing will work this time.” It was a series of very strange decisions that made a console that today is more of a curio than anything you’d ever want to play. What makes the terrible View-Master Interactive Vision so weird is the fact that every aspect of its design seemed to come from people who had seemingly never even looked at a game console before.

Again, look at that controller!

7 awful games later, including titles featuring characters from Disney, Sesame Street, and The Muppet Show, this ugly brick of a waste of time was gone.


5. Apple Pippin

Apple Pippin
Apple Pippin

Apple making its own console wasn’t an inherently bad idea, but the company was in a weird place before Steve Jobs returned and helped turn the company into the powerhouse it is today. If you think the company is creatively bankrupt without Steve Jobs at the helm now, wait until you see what they were up to in the 90s!

Seemingly everyone was putting out video game hardware when Apple released its Pippin in 1996. This oddball promised to be truly unlike its competitors at Sony, Sega, and Nintendo by offering everything from multimedia support to a deep library of good games. From the moment you see the controller, which makes our hands hurt just looking at its horrible boomerang design, you get the sense that you’re in for a weird experience.

The problem for the Pippin came down to a few other things, particularly the fact that the nearly US$600 Pippin wasn’t great for any of its touted uses, including a computer that could browse the internet, a multimedia player, and video game console. The console part was particularly depressing, with just 25 games released until Steve Jobs shut the whole thing down when he returned to Apple in 1997.


4. Telstar Arcade

While the Coleco Telstar Arcade at least looked kind of cool, a massive triangle of gaming entertainment sporting a steering wheel, a light gun with holster, and control deck with knobs for Pong-type games, try to imagine even playing the damn thing. It wasn’t easy in 1977, when this ambitious effort from Coleco was released to stores, and players responded by virtually ignoring the Telstar Arcade altogether.

Which is a shame because the Telstar Arcade, while imperfect, was the most advanced Telstar system Coleco ever manufactured. Remember that this isn’t even the 80s, and companies were still trying to figure out what worked best. This was an interesting, weird experiment on paper, with four multi-game cartridges released, but ultimately a failed one.


3. Super Lady Cassette Vision

You know what girls need? Their own video game console! At least, that was the idea behind the Japan-exclusive Super Lady Cassette Vision, released as a variant of its poor-selling Super Cassette Vision console in 1985. Obviously, with its bright pink exterior covering virtually every surface of the system, it was clearly a console that girls and only girls could play. The Super Lady Cassette Vision came packaged with the game Milky Princess, which was famously a video game that girls and only girls could play. Thank goodness, as they were physically incapable of playing any other video games.

We don’t know how much the Super Lady Cassette Vision sold, but given that the Super Cassette Vision moved approximately 200,000 units, our guess is that Epoch’s last-ditch effort to stop the Famicom’s momentum in Japan didn’t do all that well.


2. Pioneer LaserActive

Remember laserdiscs? They were like DVDs, except they were roughly the same size as a vinyl record and were very expensive. While the tech behind laserdiscs was neat, that wasn’t enough to overtake VHS. Likewise, the Pioneer LaserActive was fascinating on paper, but with a US$900 price tag just to get the base system, and a game library that consisted mostly of horrid edutainment games, no one was buying this weird thing.

Interestingly, the Pioneer LaserActive could play Sega Genesis or TurboGrafx-16 games, but only if you purchased a US$600 “Control Pack.” For each of those. Yikes. Released in 1993, it’s astonishing that the LaserActive managed to last three years.


1. McDonald’s Chicken Nugget Console

Chicken Nuggets

If you’ve been dreaming about a China-exclusive console from McDonald’s that can only play Tetris and is shaped like a chicken nugget, 2023 might have been the greatest year of your life. Our choice for the weirdest gaming console ever is a marketing product that we dearly wish McDonald’s had brought to other parts of the world.

I mean, look at this adorable little freak. It really does look like a chicken nugget, and it really does play actual licensed Tetris. The system was made to celebrate the 40th anniversary of chicken nuggets being introduced at McDonald’s in 1983, and we couldn’t even tell you why this handheld was never released in North America, Europe, or anywhere else for that matter. Only 400,000 were made, but you can find one on eBay for a pretty good price, if all of this sounds absolutely amazing.

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