The Dream Game Machines That Never Came True

I think most of us who played videogames had dreams about game machines that we would like to see on the market that would blow away everything that currently existed on the market, as far as both hardware and software are concerned.  My kind of dream "game machine" was one that went by the names of FuturaVision and MyPerCade (the latter being an amalgamation of "my personal arcade").  It would be a rather boxy-looking system about the same size as a ColecoVision; it would have controllers that are sort of a mix between the ColecoVision's and the Atari 5200's (eight-way self-centering joystick, four action buttons, a 12-function keypad, and a Reset, a Start, and a Pause button); it would have graphics and audio capabilities similar to those of an arcade game machine circa the early 1980s (which would put it at the same level as a Nintendo Famicom/NES system); it would have as part of its library ALL the popular arcade titles that would even resemble the coin-op originals, plus a whole slew of sports titles that would made Intellivision's sports titles look rather primitive by comparison, and some strategy and adventure games, including a Dungeons & Dragons-type game.  Like the ColecoVision, it would also feature an expansion port that would allow all sorts of expansion modules to be plugged in, including a laserdisk player module for playing Dragon's Lair.  I even made up some of my own brochures for those imagined game systems like those published by various home game manufacturers.  However, by the time that Nintendo revived the dead gaming market in America, my interest in developing a "dream game machine" had faded to black.  Other people, however, would build a different kind of "dream game machine" in years to come, by either having an arcade game machine run off a computer board using an emulator or by retro-fitting a computer board of adequate size inside the casing of an old gaming console unit.  Still others would form companies to develop their own "dream game machines" for the purpose of competing with whatever game systems are out there in the market — but for some reason or another, most of these "dream game machine" plans would never be fulfilled.  Here are a few examples of these machines that came along over the years:

Mattel Intellivision III and Intellivision IV -- Mattel had compacted their original Intellivision system into the Intellivision II model by 1982 when news of the upcoming ColecoVision and Atari 5200 systems hit home, promising better graphics to go with better games. Basically, they wanted in on the "next generation" system profits, so they went to work designing the "three-quel" system that would use wireless controllers, had built-in voice synthesis technology, and would play all existing older Intellivision cartridges. Unfortunately, when they saw what the ColecoVision and Atari 5200 could do for game graphics, Mattel realized its efforts would wind up making a very primitive competitor in comparison. That idea got scrapped and the new one for the Intellivision IV, the real competitive game system, was born. However, Mattel sold its videogame division off to its employees who turned it into INTV Corporation, and when the gaming market crashed in 1984, their efforts to turn the Intellivision IV into reality also took a nosedive.

An Odyssey 3 prototypeMagnavox Odyssey 3 -- Like Mattel, Magnavox also had its eye on retaking the market from the likes of Atari, Mattel, and the upcoming Coleco by producing their sequel system that had dressed-up versions of existing Odyssey 2 games. But that system never got released in America because they too realized how primitive the actual product would be in comparison to the ColecoVision and the Atari 5200. The Odyssey 2 also became a casualty around that time.  Fortunately the system was released in Europe as the Videopac sequel system.

The UltraVisionUltraVision -- This gem of an idea for a videogame system was noble, to say the least. It was a standard portable color television set that would also be a self-contained game system, and it could be expanded to play games from other systems as well as into a full-fledged personal computer. The company that promised this system's release made bold promises in advertisements and actually started work on it, but it never got finished because its cost wouldn't make it feasible for the average consumer to pick up. The only thing that survived of this idea was two finished Atari 2600 games called Condor Attack and Karate, both of which were bottom-of-the-barrel-type quality games.

Hasbro/ISIX ControlVision ("Project N.E.M.O") -- Tom Zito along with former Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, who went on to found Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theater, started this concept of a videogame system that would connect to a VCR and use videotapes for visual imagery as well as for storing the actual game program back in 1985. To that effect, he developed the technology called InstaSwitch that would allow for instantaneous switching between several seperate video tracks on a VCR tape, producing smooth on-the-fly transitions that such "interactive movie" games would call for. Hasbro gave Tom Zito the funding for such a system, and he formed the ISIX division to produce what was called at the time "Project N.E.M.O", with its final name being the ControlVision. Two games that used the InstaSwitch technology, Night Trap (at that time called "Scene Of The Crime") and Sewer Shark, were developed along with the system, but by 1989 the plug was pulled on the project when Hasbro figured out how much the system would cost the average consumer when finished. Fortunately, the two games developed for the ControlVision went on to become the first few games released for the Sega CD in 1992 when Tom Zito formed the new company Digital Pictures.

The Konix Multi-System in its configurationsKonix Multi-System -- Here was another really innovative idea for a home system -- one that would use 3 1/2-inch floppy disks to store its games, plus it would have a built-in steering wheel that can be converted into a flight-controller stick and motorcycle handlebars for certain games. As if that wasn't enough to whet the appetites of possible buyers, the system would also have a hydraulic chair as an accessory! Konix, a British-based hardware company, went to work on developing the Multi-System and its accessories, promising its release in 1989 in time to compete with the Sega Genesis and the NEC Turbo-Grafx 16. What happened along the way? The company ran out of money before they could finish designing the thing before it went into production, and soon found themselves scrambling to find anyone to help pick up the tab for completing the Multi-System. Simply put, it was a potentially good engine of a game system idea that ran out of gas!

The Indrema L600Indrema L600 Entertainment System -- This little-known game system from this obscure company would have entered the market in time to compete against the X-Box, the Gamecube, and the Playstation 2 by the turn of the millennium.  One of the things it would have offered was free open-source software development for PC users using the Linux operating system.  For the consumer who cared little for programming his or her own games, the L600 would offer web browsing, playing of various media sources (CD, DVD, MP3), TV show recording, email access, and other wonderful things.  Unfortunately, Indrema was so busy with press releases, they never got around to building the system, which, along with not being able to produce enough capital to keep their company afloat, was one of the reasons for the company's demise along with the L600 in 2001.

The Infinium Labs PhantomInfinium Labs Phantom -- In 2003 Infinium Labs came forth with their innovative game system that would rely solely upon downloaded videogame content that would, in theory, remove the need for physical storage media such as cartridges and disks.  As great as this system sounded with all its features, most people began to suspect that this was yet another "dream game machine" that would never see day.  Now three years later the company has decided to put the Phantom system idea on hold after losing money trying to get the system completed.

Coleco Chameleon -- Originally called the Retro VGS, this was a crowdfunded video game system project that was aimed at bringing back the style of gaming that was prevalent from the Atari Generation to the Playstation Generation of game systems through the use of cartridges. The system would use the shell of the Atari Jaguar as its case, hopefully to attract potential customers. However, when a "prototype" of the system was shown at the American International Toy Fair in New York in February 2016, it was eventually revealed that the "prototype" was nothing more than a modified Super NES board fit inside the casing of an Atari Jaguar. Another "prototype" which was shown in a clear Atari Jaguar casing was revealed to be a video capture card instead of an actual motherboard. Support for the system eventually died off when the public caught wind of this controversy, and the Retro VGS webpage and online social media presence were shut down.

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