Who the hell could afford them? Six hundred dollars, and back in 1993 when the US dollar was actually worth something, was way too rich for my blood.
Some obscure consoles and handhelds that caught my attention, if only briefly:
Intellivision: The console responsible for a great many advances in the video game industry. This system always seemed to have the best original ideas before anyone else, and enjoyed a brief renaissance in the late 1980s. Too bad about those awful, awful controllers, though.
Astrocade: A game system with arcade hardware, before the Naomi? You’d better believe it! Thanks to its coin-op heritage, the Astrocade had the best ports of Midway arcade games like Space Zap and Wizard of Wor. The pistol grip joysticks that doubled as paddles were way awesome too.
Atari 7800: Kind of chumpy next to the more advanced and better supported NES. Atari fans tend to be rather delusional about this machine, and will swear on a stack of Combat cartridges that its games were better than the ones on the NES… even though its version of Galaga is stiffly animated and crashes after the tenth stage.
3DO: The first timid step into the world of multimedia gaming, the 3DO was quite powerful for its time. Unfortunately, that time was 1993. Two years later, it looked old and tired next to the more powerful Saturn and Playstation. An obscenely high price tag (look out Playstation 3!) didn’t help its chances much in an already crowded marketplace.
Gizmondo: I actually had one of these for about a year. It’s actually not a bad machine at all… it just had really rotten parents. If Microsoft had released this instead of a bunch of money laundering Swedish thugs, it might be on store shelves today. It’s got powerful hardware (although that power was badly mismanaged by the crappy software library) and the rubberized shell feels marvelous in your hands.