Welcome to a brief retrospect on video game consoles that didn’t fare well with the consumer market. All this talk about CES 2013, it has to be noted that not everything from the Consumer Electronics Show will be successful. In fact almost half of all the cool tech you see will never really take off… anywhere. The 1995 console from Apple called the Pippin is no exception. Let’s discuss the console that Apple doesn’t want you to know about.
Consoles that go flop in the 90’s: Apple Bandai Pippin
The Apple that fell far from the tree…
The 90’s was a big deal for home gaming consoles. We saw the jump from 8-Bit to 16-Bit to 64-Bit all with in the decade. The foundation of modern console gaming had been laid with the Japanese market making a big splash. Yet some people don’t know that there was more than just the BIG 3 that produced home consoles this decade. You know Nintendo, Sega and Sony which came into the ring later but left a lasting impression on the industry. Today we are going to talk about a home console that released with much ambition in the mid 90’s call the Apple Bandai Pippin. More commonly refereed to as the @WORLD in the United States and Europe and the Pippin ATMARK in Japan. Both regions got different color schemes as the North American/European version of the Pippin was Black and the Japanese version was White.
If you’re wondering why Bandai and Apple are in the same sentence when talking about this system. Well Apple created the console/platform, as well as the Pippin, an Operating System (OS). Bandai is the manufacturer that Apple went in cahoots with to mass produce the console. The Pippin as we will refer to it for the sake of confusion, was a Multimedia Player/Video Game Console. Apple’s idea was to create a cheap, affordable, computer with the main focus that it could play video games on a CD-ROM. Initially the Pippin was a computer that you could connect to your TV via A/V cables. A CD-ROM drive and a 6MB storage system was supposed to be the future of gaming. To Apple’s disappointment, the world said otherwise.
Enter the Applejack controller
The controls to the console are the most interesting thing about it. The controller is called the “Applejack” and has a track ball in the middle, similar to that of Atari controllers of the past, you know that huge controller for the Atari 5200 that never worked. The D-pad looks like one of those cheap 3rd party controller pads and the controller itself looks rather gimmicky. Instead of Apple using analog sticks which was already created by this time they chose the trackball route which to be honest is one of the worst ways to control a video game. Not only that does this controller look familiar to you? Remember when the PS3 was going to be announced with boomerang controllers. Thank god that didn’t fly because it would’ve come back and bit Sony in the Ass, just like it did Apple.
Would you know it that the console had 18 titles to choose from at launch? From Power Rangers Zeo, to Mr. Potato Head Saves Veggie Valley, yet one title stands out from them all. It is a title created by none other than Bungie. Yep the Halo masters of the Universe! Super Marathon was the original trilogy first created by Bungie before they finished the fight back in 2007. Super Marathon came with 3 games: Marathon, Marathon: Durandal and Marathon Infinity. Yet even the predecessor to Halo couldn’t even save the doomed Apple console. So wouldn’t you know it Bungie would eventually jump ship and create the start of a legacy that would serve as the premiere title for Microsoft, Halo.
Let the Apple/Microsoft fanboy hate begin
The platform was launched in 1995 in both North America and Japan. The initial cost of the device may have been the reason why the console never took off. Imagine buying the Pippin for a whopping $599 plus tax! Now that is a lot of dough to be shelling out for a medium-sized pizza, and remember this is in the 90’s meaning the initial cost today would be around 900-1000 dollars. Bandai produced approximately 100,000 units with only 42,000 being sold. Finally after 2 years of excruciating pain the console was laid to rest in 1997. Another reason why this little piece of horrible hardware never took off was because it had no games. Unlike today the iPhone and iPad has tons of support via the App marketplace such a thing didn’t exist in this time era meaning Apple would have to seclude itself from video games. Will Apple ever launch another video game console other than its famous iOS devices only time will tell.