The editor sorts 48 consoles by personal preference, then explains their positions on the list.









XBox 360








Game Boy


station 2






























Channel F




















x86 PC





























The Jessboard is back with an all-new edition, ready to rile up the fanboys with a rank for nearly every game console and handheld system ever made.  Here's how it works... every system on the Jessboard has been assigned a number from 1 to 48.  The lower the number, the higher the rank.  Each system's rank is determined by a number of criteria, including hardware performance, software quality, market penetration, industry influence, and of course, good old fashioned personal bias.

The Jessboard reads from left to right, with the best consoles ever designed on the leftmost side of the board.  As you proceed to the right end of the board, the systems get less and less impressive, with the colors on each square reflecting the change in quality.  On the far right, you'll find the worst game systems in history; disasters like the, Emerson Arcadia, and the 32X which should never have been invented.  Any consoles that don't appear on this list simply haven't been rated... their absence from the list is in no way an indication of their quality.

Now it's time to explain the ratings each console was given.  The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, so if your favorite system got a raw deal on the list, don't take it personally... this is by no means objective.  Here we go!


First up to bat is the NES, which wins The Gameroom Blitz's not-really-coveted-but-still-pretty-impressive award for the best game system ever made.  This is the console that changed the industry forever, transforming video games from simple twitch-fests to sprawling adventures.  Rather than being trapped in a single, claustrophobic screen, NES games gave you the freedom to explore entire worlds!  The NES also gave the industry more classic series than any other system, including The Legend of Zelda, Metal Gear, Castlevania, and Ninja Gaiden.  Even the controller included with the console was an important advance for the industry, offering the razor-sharp precision that was absent from past game systems.  It just doesn't get any better than this!

Next is the Playstation 2 and its predecessor.  The PS2 had a rough start, but redeemed itself in a big way a couple of years after the Dreamcast fizzled out.  Weak launch titles like Kessen and Eternal Ring were eventually replaced with a wide variety of classics for nearly every taste.  The shooter fans have Gradius V and R-Type Final to scratch those itchy trigger fingers.  Music enthusiasts can get their groove on with Guitar Heroes and Gitaroo-Man.  Gamers looking for great platforming action will find it in Sly Cooper and Ratchet and Clank.  If by some odd coincidence there isn't a Playstation 2 title that appeals to you, you'll almost certainly find one that does in the original Playstation library... which the PS2 just happens to support.  It's one-stop shopping for the gamer of the 21st century!

Of course, without the original Playstation, the PS2 just wouldn't have been possible.  Although saddled with an unfortunate no 2D games policy at the beginning of its life, the Playstation ultimately proved itself worthy of the hype with its versatile, powerful hardware and a huge catalog of outstanding titles.  The console had a nasty reputation of becoming unreliable after frequent use, but let's face it, even the NES had its own issues playing games after a couple of years.  I must have blown enough air into Nintendo cartridges over the past twenty years to inflate a tractor tire!

Next on the menu is the Sega Dreamcast.  The system had such a short life in the United States, but as they say in science-fiction circles, the candle that burns out twice as quickly burns twice as bright.  Or was that the other way around?  Anyway, nearly three hundred games were released for the Dreamcast during the two regrettably brief years it was supported... and the vast majority of these titles were amazing, demonstrating marked visual improvements the past generation of consoles.  Cars became almost real enough to touch, and heroes became more human, with expressive faces, hands with flexible fingers, and clothing that's worn, rather than painted on the skin.  All this made the already entertaining games on the Dreamcast that much more exciting!

In an industry where the leader is often far ahead of the pack, the Super NES and Sega Genesis were a bit of an oddity.  The two systems (and their respective fans) were locked in a vicious battle for many years.  When the fighting finally ended, the Super NES had one broken finger dangling over the finish line, with the Sega Genesis gasping for breath just a couple of feet behind it.  I loved the Genesis when I was a teen, but over the years I've come to realize that the Super NES, with its superior audiovisuals and strong Japanese software support, was ultimately the better of the two systems.  That's not to knock the Genesis, though... it had several advantages of its own, including a swift processor, a keenly responsive six button controller... and oh yeah, a little game called Gunstar Heroes.

The Game Boy Advance still holds the distinction of being the best handheld on the market, despite stiff competition from newcomers like the PSP and Nintendo's own DS.  An extensive library of games (there are literally thousands of titles for the system, not including Game Boy and Game Boy Color releases), plus hardware powerful enough to handle nearly every 2D game that's thrown at it, makes the Game Boy Advance an essential travel companion for any serious player.  Thanks to the compact size of the Game Boy Advance SP and especially the Micro, there's no reason to leave it behind on your next trip!

The Atari 2600 squeaks into the top ten with a wide range of addictive games, all with a distinctive look that's best described as charmingly primitive.  The characters in many 2600 titles (particularly Activision's) are drawn with layers of color, giving them an appealing artsy aesthetic that's missing from nearly all of its competitors.  The console also has a simple but easy to use interface... a flick of the Game Reset switch or a tap of the fire button is all it takes to set many games in motion.  Replace that clumsy 2600 joystick with a Sega Arcade Pad, and you're guaranteed hours of retroriffic fun!

Like the shiny red Ferrari gleaming in your neighbor's yard, the Neo-Geo is a sexy piece of equipment that was always just out of reach.  When it was first released, the system cost over seven hundred bucks, and the games followed suit with price tags of two hundred dollars or more (much more, now that they've appreciated in value).  You didn't always get what you paid for, either... launch titles like Ninja Combat and Robo Army were barely worth the handful of quarters you'd need to finish them in the local arcade.  Fortunately, as time passed, SNK finally learned to make the most of the system's hardware, releasing spectacular games like King of Fighters '99 and Garou: Mark of the Wolves that were worth the kingly sum SNK charged for them.  Well, almost.

Then we have the Sega Saturn.  The system's runaway success in Japan, and its complete lack of it in America, makes me feel like I'm reviewing two consoles rather than just one.  If you're buying a Saturn just to play Western games, you're going to be sorely disappointed... Sega and Capcom were the only two companies that had given the system the support it deserved.  However, in the land of the rising sun, things were far different.  The system that was stone cold in the States was on fire in Japan, with hundreds upon hundreds of quirky games tailor made for a Japanese audience.  If you get a Saturn, make sure you get a Pro Action Replay Plus and a handful of imports to go along with it... it's the only way to truly experience the system.

I've got mixed feelings about personal computers as entertainment systems.  The x86 PC in particular was never really intended to play video games... after all, they don't call the designer of the first batch of these systems International Business Machines for nothing.  Now that PCs have advanced to the point where you can use them to play streaming music and video, burn DVDs, and talk to friends, sometimes all at once, they're more than powerful enough to handle mindblowing games.  The only problem is, most of what's available on PCs just doesn't appeal to me.  Doom?  Yawn.  Age of Empires?  Bleech.  Starcraft?  The Koreans can have that one.  Still, the ability to play games for nearly every other console through the use of emulators makes the PC impossible to ignore as a game system.

The original Xbox is a close cousin of the x86 PC, sharing most of its technology.  However, it was designed for one purpose and one purpose alone... playing video games.  This sharp focus makes it more appealing than the average PC for gaming.  There's no need to sit through a ten minute installation... the only set up you'll need is opening the drive door and inserting the game you want to play!  The XBox is also more powerful than any of its contemporaries, and the ability to create custom soundtracks really comes in handy when the threat of EA Trax rears its ugly head.

The PSP?  The Nintendo DS?  It's a tough choice for sure, but one that many cash-strapped gamers have had to make.  I've got both, but if I were forced to make a choice, I'd go with... hmm... let me think about this for a second... wait, wait... all right, the PSP.  The DS has some pretty sweet games available for it, but like the Sega Saturn in the 90's, only Japanese developers take it seriously.  Nearly everybody else treats the system like a Game Boy Advance with a touchscreen grafted onto it.  The PSP is not immune to half-hearted game design, but it's finally making its mark with great titles like Pursuit Force, Maverick Hunter X, and its kid brother Mega Man: Powered Up.  On top of that, few portables have been as open to homebrew and emulator development as the PSP.  Neo-Geo and Super NES games on the go?  Sign me the hell up!

Trailing behind them both is the Neo-Geo Pocket, which helped me keep my sanity through the dark days when the wretched Game Boy Color dominated the handheld market.  For years, this was the only way to go for serious gamers fed up with the Pokemon hype.  Seven years after its debut, the Neo-Geo Pocket is still home to the best handheld fighting games ever made.  Just try to find a versus fighter on a portable system that plays as well as Match of the Millennium... it just ain't gonna happen!

On we go to Nintendo's GameCube.  It could have been a contender... after all, there was nothing wrong with the hardware, which was a step above the Playstation 2 and not that far behind the Xbox.  There were also a lot of fine games starring Nintendo's most popular heroes, but what it was missing was third party support.  The big N took steps to bring back the licensees that were disillusioned by the Nintendo 64, but the company's refusal to hop aboard the broadband train resulted in the cancellation of important GameCube games like Burnout 3: Takedown.  The constantly delayed Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess won't help the system die a dignified death, either.

I'll wrap up this chapter with the TurboDuo and Vectrex.  It would be easy to dismiss the Turbografx-16 CD as just another flashy add-on designed to extort money from gamers who would be just as happy with the base system, but NEC was a lot more dedicated to their CD expansion (and the integrated system that it would eventually inspire) than Sega.  Instead of taking ordinary cartridge games and throwing in redbook audio and a couple of full-motion video scenes, NEC justified its use of the new, high-capacity media with original efforts like Y's Books 1 & 2, a great RPG made better with double the content and quality voice acting.

Most game systems designed before the industry crash of 1984 haven't aged well.  The Vectrex is a major exception to the rule.  Its vector graphics, shown on a monochrome display built into the unit, are as striking and stylish as the colorful characters in the Atari 2600's best games.  The Vex is also packed with power, capable of the scaling and rotation that wouldn't be introduced to raster scan systems until the turn of the decade.  The system's got a small library of games and an incredibly lame mascot (Spike, a stick figure with a jagged head), but past that there's little to criticize about this eight pound gorilla.


Middle of the road... you see the darnedest things!  That includes Microsoft's Xbox 360, the first of the next generation of game consoles.  Now here's a system I want to like more than I actually can.  Sure, it's packed with more power than any system that has come before it, and the multimedia features are even more robust than those in the already impressive Xbox.  There's just one problem, though... the games just don't seem to take advantage of that muscle.  Once you get past the colorful candy shell of games like Project Gotham Racing 3 and Kameo, all you'll find inside are ordinary Xbox titles.  The Xbox Live Marketplace holds promise, but the shelves are pretty empty at the moment, holding only twenty downloadable games.  There's only one reason to own an Xbox 360 if its multimedia features aren't important to you... but the outstanding Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is the only reason you need!

Twenty five years ago, the Mattel Intellivision was the most advanced game console money (and preppies!) could buy.  At first glance, it seems to offer everything that the Atari 2600 has, plus a whole lot more... but looks can be deceiving!  The Intellivision has a number of aggravating flaws, with those blasted hardwired controllers being at the top of that list.  After twenty minutes of struggling with that unresponsive bronze dial and those stiff side buttons, you'll start to feel as chained to the misconceived controller as the system itself.  And oh yeah, if your temper gets the best of you and you smash the accursed thing to bits, you get to replace the entire system!  Oh joy!  The Intellivision's got almost enough great games to make up for this grievous design flaw.  It's the only way to play Burgertime outside of an arcade, and B-17 Bomber is still one of the most engaging flight simulators to ever hit a game console... classic or otherwise.  Who says there's no room for another World War II game?

The Turbografx-16 is next on the list.  The system loses a lot of its impact without the optional CD-ROM peripheral, but there are still enough fine games here to make it worth kicking it into turbo.  Some of the better cartridges for the Turbografx-16 include nearly airtight conversions of arcade hits like R-Type, SideArms, and Galaga '90, as well as Japanese exclusives such as 1943 Kai and Rabio Lepus Special (Rabbit Punch).  You're probably noticing that all of the games mentioned here are shooters.  That's because they're the Turbografx-16's specialty... neither the Genesis nor the Super NES can outgun it in this department.  The system doesn't perform as well in other genres, however.  For instance, Bonk's Adventure doesn't measure up to the timeless gameplay and charming characters of Super Mario World, or the sleek visuals and blazing speed of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Lots of competent arcade conversions, an uncomfortable knob controller, and a tendency to rust.  That's how you know it's a Coleco!  The ColecoVision controller takes a little too much inspiration from the crummy Intellivision pad, but at least you've got the option to replace it with something more comfortable and responsive (if I might make a suggestion, how about the Sega Arcade Pad?).  You won't find much here that you haven't already played elsewhere, but the ColecoVision does have some passable arcade ports, as well as Fortune Builder, the game that was Sim City before Sim City was a twinkle in Will Wright's eye!

Trailing behind the ColecoVision is its competitor, the Atari 5200.  The 5200 was quickly thrown together with Atari 800 computer components, but despite the hasty design and some truly horrendous stock controllers, the system's got its strengths.  The Atari 5200 can push brighter colors and more of them than the ColecoVision, and the scrolling is smoother in most games.  On the downside, the resolution is lower, resulting in backgrounds and characters that are a little on the chunky side.  There's also the issue of the included controller, an awkward marriage of the stiff 2600 sticks and the numeric keypad on the Intellivision.  It's no worse than the ColecoVision knob, but the Atari 5200 stick frequently breaks and is more difficult to replace.

Next comes the Astrocade.  The system's got a lot going for it... an excellent BASIC interpreter, fun conversions of early Midway arcade titles, and most importantly, an input device that ISN'T total crap.  Take a pistol handle, then cap it with a dial that doubles as a wonderfully responsive thumbstick, and that's the Astrocade controller in a nutshell.  Yet for all its strengths, it just can't hang with the big boys of classic gaming.  There's practically no third party support (sorry, those BASIC games written by Astrocade fans don't count), and the resolution is pretty dismal.  On top of all that, there's a limited selection of colors at the Astrocade's disposal, although the few that are available are as vibrant as anything you'll find on a pre-NES game console.  Bally's system had potential, but the company abandoned the Astrocade years before that potential could be fully tapped.

Well, on to the Nintendo 64, the first disappointment in this list.  Oh, Nintendo... after the excellence of the NES and Super NES, how could you give us THIS?!  The Nintendo 64 was the first home game console without the benefit of strong third party support.  All the killer apps that appealed most to the average gamer were either delayed on the Nintendo 64 or never arrived on the system.  Without Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider, or Street Fighter, it's easy to see why the Nintendo 64 quickly lagged behind in the console wars of the mid 1990's.  There were a few great first party titles on the system, but not as many as Nintendo fans were expecting after coming down from the high of Super Mario 64.

By contrast, the Lynx wasn't what gamers had expected at all from Atari.  Long considered to be on the dull edge of technology, Atari shocked the world by releasing a handheld system that ran circles around Nintendo's GameBoy.  Why settle for a blurry monochrome games that are a step behind their NES counterparts, when you can have a truly advanced portable gaming experience?  Well, because it cost a whole lot less.  That full color screen and the fancy hardware built into the Lynx came with a hefty price... nearly two hundred dollars at launch.  On top of that, all the most popular games of the time went straight to the GameBoy.  Nobody was going to settle for ports of creaky Atari arcade titles when they could take favorites like Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man on the go, even if they were slightly compromised. 

It's clear from the name that Sega had high hopes for the Master System, but the sleek black console never really lived up to that title.  It was technologically superior to the Nintendo Entertainment System, with a faster processor and a more diverse color palatte.  In the end, though, it's all about the games, and that was the one area where the NES was the real master.  Since Nintendo had already staked a claim on the most popular arcade titles and the best original software, Sega could only fall back on its own coin-op library, as well as the rare third party release that slipped through the cracks.  A dependence on arcade hits left the Master System library without the depth and long-term replay value that was so abundant on the NES, one of the many reasons that the console was left in the dust a few short years after its debut.

The Game Gear is the Master System's handheld cousin, which Sega somehow expected to perform at the same level as the 16-bit Sega Genesis.  Far too many Genesis games were ported over to the Game Gear, and it was abundantly clear that it just didn't have the power to handle them.  Many of these titles were severely downscaled on their way to their new home... Streets of Rage lost much of its impact and intensity on the Game Gear, and the Japanese exclusive Gunstar Heroes was stripped of several stages, including the fan favorite Black's Dice Maze.  Rather than forcing Genesis games into the tiny frame of the Game Gear, Sega should have released games designed especially for the handheld.  If more Game Gear titles had been like The GG Shinobi and its sequel, the system could have went a few more rounds against Nintendo's pocket powerhouse before hitting the mat.

Just barely squeezing into this chapter of Systematix 2006 are those eternal rivals, Panasonic's 3DO and the Atari Jaguar.  One was designed as a top-of-the-line multimedia device with all the fixin's, and the other was Atari's attempt to play the numbers game with a 64-bit console.  Panasonic gets points for ambition... at the time of its release, there really was no other CD-based game system that could stand on even ground with the 3DO.  The console was like a proto-Playstation, with the muscle to display texture-mapped polygons and crisp full-motion video.  It also had an outlandish price, tipping the scales at seven hundred dollars (and you thought the Playstation 3 was bad!).  At $250, the Jaguar was more economically priced, but it just didn't pack the punch of the 3DO.  Some Jag releases were barely upgraded ports of Genesis and Super NES games... and not even the good ones!  A few titles carried more impact, especially Jeff Minter's psychadelic masterpiece Tempest 2000, but practically everything else in the Jaguar library smacked of desperation... the kind of desperation that can only come from ten years of bleeding money in the hopes of dethroning Nintendo as the king of the video game industry.


The lesson learned from the Atari 7800 is that when you go to war with a company that's on its way to industry domination, you don't step into the battlefield with last year's ammunition.  The 7800, developed in 1984 and released two years later, had no chance against the more advanced, forward-thinking Nintendo Entertainment System.  The NES offered bright colors, sharp artwork, and lively animation.  The best the 7800 could muster were muddy, dated graphics best suited for old-school arcade games like Centipede.  The NES had thunderous explosions, pounding bass, and clear voice digitization.  The 7800 was stuck in the 1970's with a stone-age, single-channel sound processor.  The NES had a four button joypad that gave the player more options and precision than anything that had come before it.  The 7800 only had two buttons on its uncomfortable, oversized joystick.  The only advantage the Atari 7800 had was once again rooted in its unwillingness to let go of the past... it was backward compatible with nearly every 2600 game ever released.  The only problem was, anyone who still wanted to play these golden oldies either already had a 2600 at home, or could get one for fifty dollars.  Whoops!

Many will argue the GameBoy's unenviable position on this list.  Frankly, I don't care.  Sure, it had plenty of games, based on strong Nintendo properties like Super Mario Bros., Mega Man, and Castlevania.  However, many of those games paled in comparison to their NES counterparts, especially The Castlevania Adventure, with its super sluggish Simon Belmont, and Super Mario Land, whose entire cast of characters could fit on the head of a pin.  Even more damning was the fact that the GameBoy was singlehandedly responsible for keeping handheld technology in the stone age for nearly a decade.  With its sickly green monochrome display and lackluster hardware specs, it was as far behind its competition as the Atari 7800 was the NES.  A tempting price point and Nintendo's industry dominance kept the GameBoy on top much longer than it should have been, but these days, nobody would dare play the system or its games for ten minutes.  After the first three, you'll run out of the room screaming, with your hands clutching your bleeding eye sockets!

The Sega CD will forever be known to gamers as "strike one" for Sega.  More than just an optical disc drive, the Sega CD brought scaling, rotation, and a more advanced sound processor to the Sega Genesis.  Unfortunately, the add-on did more to undermine the system's reputation than address its shortcomings.  Far too often, Sega CD games were little more than standard Genesis titles with redbook audio, grainy full-motion video, and the unwelcome addition of excruciating access times.  The few games that didn't fall into this category were typically 64-color films with little player interaction, leaving a scant dozen releases that helped the hapless Sega CD owner stave off that nagging feeling that they had been fleeced.

Speaking of costly, pointless upgrades, the Supergrafx is next on the list.  Its predecessor, the Turbografx, didn't go anywhere in America, but NEC had been doing pretty well in the Japanese market, presenting a serious threat to Nintendo's leadership of the industry.  It would take a mistake of titanic proportions to bring NEC's momentum to a screeching halt... and the Supergrafx was that fatal error which dropped them into the frigid waters of defeat.  Only six games were released especially for the Supergrafx, with a seventh cross-compatible title offering special Supergrafx-exclusive enhancements.  Roughly half of that small stack of HuCards were entertaining, with the arcade-perfect ports of 1941 and Ghouls 'n Ghosts resting on the top of the deck.  However, shuffle that deck a little and you'll find just as many jokers, including the sad-sack shooter Aldynes, the Mode 7-drunk Battle Ace, and Granzort (worse than Keith Courage?  You betcha!).

Now onto the N-Gage.  People who like this kooky phone and gaming hybrid (and there are a few of them out there) are quick to argue that its critics haven't spent enough time with the system to judge it fairly.  OK, I'll bite.  Even though I was turned off by Nokia's image-obsessed marketing, I was willing to give the system a fair shake, buying not only the more wisely designed QD model but a handful of the N-Gage's better games.  After several frustrating hours of what could only be charitably described as gameplay, I came to the same conclusion everyone else had... that Nokia had no business being in the video game industry.  The controls alone make it clear that they've got no idea why people play games in the first place.  If the stiff, stubborn D-pad doesn't kill the N-Gage experience for you, the tight cluster of numeric keys that serve as action buttons almost certainly will.  It's a shame, too, because N-Gage software is a big step up from what passes for "games" on other cell phones.

It's hard to look back on your first gaming experience without a hint of fond nostalgia... unless your first happened to be the Odyssey2.  Designed by Magnavox and Philips at the beginning of the 1980's, the Odyssey2 was so in love with its alleged technological superiority that every one of its games came with a haunting science-fiction scenerio.  On the front of every box, you'd find men drawn in laser lights, running from ominous androids... it was almost as if the cast of Tron had stumbled onto the set of Ultraman.  It was the ultimate case of false advertising when you popped a cartridge into your Odyssey2 and found only square-headed robots that looked as much like Lego men as the cybernetic menaces on the front of the box.  That feeling of disappointment went from aching to crushing when you discovered that those robots were in nearly every Odyssey2 release, even sports games!  Your only escape from the cube-headed menace was in the twin Pac-Man clones K.C. Munchkin and K.C.'s Crazy Chase; both awesome maze games that seemed as out of place on the system as the square-headed robots were in Pachinko! and Quest for the Rings!.

Next up is the Wonderswan, a low-rent handheld which proved that Gumpei Yokoi was incapable of learning from his past mistakes.  Rather than addressing the many flaws that made his last creation, the Nintendo GameBoy, such a nightmare to use, Yokoi actually worsened them with a control scheme so awkward and convoluted, it made the clumsy D-pad and jumbled numeric keys of the N-Gage look like a masterpiece of ergonomic design.  The Wonderswan's twin directional pads (broken into four separate buttons each) were designed so that games could be played from both a horizontal and vertical perspective; a feature that typically proved more aggravating than useful.  Instead of designing games for one orientation or the other, many Wonderswan titles used both interchangably, forcing the player to flip the system at regular intervals.  To add to the "fun", the first Swan had a primitive monochrome display so blurry that it made games nearly impossible to play, no matter how you looked at them!

Before I begin with the next entry, let me state for the record that I absolutely love the Commodore Amiga.  As a computer.  In the mid 1980's.  However, it's not nearly as appealing when you try to cram the hardware into a game console and sell it as an alternative to the more powerful and specialized 3DO.  The Amiga CD32 was little more than an Amiga 1200 computer with the keyboard and floppy disc drive removed, bringing the grand total of Amiga games that were compatible with the unit to el zilcho grande.  Gamers could beat the system by purchasing an expansion unit for the CD32, but they were much better off forgetting about it entirely and buying a real Amiga computer instead.

On the subject of computers with gender-reassignment surgery, there's the Atari XEGS, intended to replace the 7800 as the Tramiels' secret weapon in the 8-bit console wars.  What Jack and company failed to understand was that the XEGS, cobbled together from bits and pieces of computers dating back to 1979, was even more outdated than the system it was supposed to succeed!  The XEGS did have the advantage of an established library of games- it could play practically any cartridge designed for the Atari 400 on up- but titles like Space Invaders and Galaxian were from a different era of gaming, an era which Atari's target audience had long since outgrown.

The Neo-Geo CD was designed with the best of intentions, but as the saying goes, the road to obscenely long load times is paved with good intentions.  Well, it went something like that, anyway.  The Neo-Geo CD let gamers take home the coveted arcade experience at a fraction of the cost of the original console, without sacrificing anything.  In fact, gamers who bought the Neo-Geo CD got more than they bargained for... namely, the worst and most frequent access times in recorded history.  Less demanding launch titles like League Bowling started up after a reasonably short ten second wait, but more advanced games like... well, every versus fighter SNK ever released, threatened to bore players to death with thirty second pauses after each match.  In the time it takes to play Fatal Fury Special from beginning to end on a Neo-Geo CD, you could drive down to the local arcade, play every Neo-Geo game there, then stop by the supermarket for a half-gallon of milk and some chips.  You wouldn't even need to use the express lane!

Poor Virtual Boy.  You're such an easy target that it's not even sporting to take shots at you!  However, for the sake of the list, I must forge onward.  I don't know what I can say about your paltry selection of games (many awful), your ridiculous double D-pad controller, or your eye-traumatizing LED display that hasn't already been said before.  So I'll try to think of something nice to say instead.  Let's see... you were the first system to give Nester, the long-suffering comic relief in the Nintendo Power comic strip Howard and Nester, his own video game.  That was really nice of you, especially since you only had a dozen or so games to spare.  What else?  Well, I don't think you ever literally blinded anyone, so that's a big plus.  And oh yeah, your 3D is still more convincing than anything I've seen on other game systems.  Objects in the foreground really do seem closer than those in the background, which makes the only must-have in your collection, Wario Land, more fun and immersive.  Mmm... yeah, that's pretty much it.

I wish I could find something nice to say about Philip's other gaming flop, the CD-i.  There are just no words to describe it that don't begin with an expletive.  It was an insult to gamers everywhere, but especially to Nintendo's dedicated (and then enormous) fanbase.  The system actually had more original Zelda games than either the NES or Super Nintendo, but all three were completely terrible.  Imagine The Adventure of Link with hand-painted backgrounds but the stiffest animation and control this side of a puppet show, and you've got a pretty good idea of what to expect.  On the non-Zelda side of things, you had a lot of pretentious full-motion video games which refused to acknowledge how idiotic the genre really was.  At least Night Trap and Sewer Shark, as crappy as they were, had the good sense not to take themselves seriously!

You'd think that color would be a step in the right direction for the GameBoy line of handhelds, but the GameBoy Color proved that Nintendo still had a long way to go before they could find an audience past the ever-reliable Pokemon crowd.  The system had great promise back when it was shown at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 1999, with everything from NES classics to adaptations of modern hits like Resident Evil on display for E3 attendees.  Then, once everyone went home and the GameBoy Color was released, everything changed.  The NES ports weren't as good as the originals.  Resident Evil vanished from the radar, only to be replaced with an unremarkable first-person RPG bearing that title.  Then the flood of craptastic movie-licensed games came.  Not a day went by that didn't slam some awful new Titus or T*HQ release for the system, but Nintendo did nothing to stop the damage.  They didn't need to!  After all, the system was carried entirely on the backs of Pikachu and his verminous friends.  Then, just as all hope seemed lost, Nintendo mercifully put the GameBoy Color out of its misery and replaced it with the greatly improved GameBoy Advance, promising that third-party releases would be subject to stringent quality assurance.  Usually, nobody benefits when a game company replaces its console after just two years, but the news of the GameBoy Color's death came as a welcome surprise to players who wanted more from their handheld gaming experience.

Like Cleopatra to Mark Anthony, or Kevin Federline to Britany Spears, the 32X was the love interest which ultimately proved to be Sega's undoing.  It also demonstrated a contempt for the gaming public that would leave even Sony in awestruck admiration.  In a letter sent to Ultra Game Player's magazine in 1994, a Sega representative responded to one reader's concerns about the questionable 32-bit upgrade by telling him to "get a life."  Sega's once loyal fanbase, already burned by the poorly supported Sega CD, reacted by telling the company to get new customers!  They were wise to save their money, because the 32X offered few advantages over a plain old Genesis and even fewer games.  It was also needlessly difficult to install, requiring its own power supply and the insertion of fussy metal strips which frustrated gamers "affectionately" called electro-popamatic-plates.

Practically every game system, no matter how terrible, is redeemed by at least one good game.  In the case of Fairchild's Channel F, that game is Dodge-It.  You're a little dot, avoiding contact with the other tiny dots bouncing around the screen.  The longer you survive, the more dots you'll have to contend with, until you're eventually overwhelmed by the little bastards.  Despite its simplicity, Dodge-It manages to keep you on the edge of your seat with its strangely compelling gameplay.  If that sense of primal urgency had been in most of the Channel F's games, it would have risen at least five spots on this list, but sadly, the fun this ancient system has to offer begins and ends with Dodge-It.  Everything else is so boring and primitive that the average gamer will be begging to change the channel after a couple of minutes.

Ten years ago, I purchased an Emerson Arcadia 2001 from one of my brother's friends.  My cost for the system and a half-dozen games?  Twenty dollars.  The opportunity to bust its chops on The Gameroom Blitz for the next ten years and beyond?  Priceless.  The Arcadia isn't so much a classic game console as it is a tribute to everything that was wrong with game consoles from the late 1970's and early 1980's.  It's got the heartbreaking, thumb-aching dial controller and numeric keypad from the Intellivision.  It's got the microscopic, rough-edged, single-colored sprites from Fairchild's Channel F.  It's got the screeching musical accompaniment of the Atari 2600.  It's got the limited software selection of the Odyssey2, and box artwork so hilariously bad it's in a class by itself.  In short, the Arcadia is everything you could possibly complain about in an older game system, and a whole lot more.

So that leaves us with two completely horrible game systems, both wimpy monochrome handhelds.  Who will be the ultimate loser?  Will it be Milton Bradley's ambitious but misguided Microvision, or Tiger's cynical cash grab, the  Hmm... I guess that answers the question right there.  The MicroVision came much too soon and was held back by the limited technology of the time, but its designers had their hearts in the right place.  On the other hand, it's clear that whoever created the not only had his heart in his wallet, but his head up his ass.  The system that was hailed as a marked improvement over the GameBoy was in fact ten times worse, with an even blurrier black and white display and games so choppy you'll be rubbing your eyes for weeks.  The had a couple of good ideas- hell, even the world's biggest moron has to stumble across a few of them in his lifetime!- but anything the system could do, the Nintendo DS can do better.  Much better.  Much, much, much, much, much...