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Domestic | Feature

Feature: The 10 Worst-Selling Handhelds of All Time

5. Sega Nomad (1 million sold)
The Sega Nomad was the second portable to allow mobile play of home console games. In its case, the device played both Genesis and Mega Drive cartridges. Sega launched the handheld in October 1995 for $180 in Japan and North America only. It featured a Genesis controller port on the bottom of the system for two-player games, and strangely, it supported an external out to TV so a second person could watch on the Nomad's smaller screen (Why not peep the larger TV?). Released at a time when 3D graphics were standard, the Nomad suffered an early death due to its poor timing, inadequate marketing, and dismal 2-hour battery life.


4. Atari Lynx (fewer than 500k sold)
Released in 1989, the Atari Lynx was the first commercially available color handheld to market. It featured a backlit display, a switchable ambidextrous layout by turning the unit upside down, local networking of up to 17 other systems, and it was the first system to support sprite zooming for pseudo-3D graphics. Though available in the US for five lackluster years, the rarely owned Lynx never caught on due to its high $189 launch price, poor distribution, limited 3 hour battery life, cumbersome design, and some of the worst games this side of the Pacific. Atari dropped the Lynx like a bag of dirt in 1994 to focus on the soon-to-fail Jaguar.


3. Game.com (fewer than 300k sold)
The Game.com (pronounced "game com") was released by Tiger Electronics in September 1997. It was the first system to use a touchscreen and stylus, first to provide internet access, and it was squarely aimed at an older audience with its PDA-style features. The touch screen lacked precision, however, due to its low sensor resolution and lack of a backlight. Furthermore, Game.com suffered from some of the worst game advertising in history; an insulting midget spokesman claimed "It plays more games than you idiots have brain cells," referring to the very gamers he was trying to sell to. Ironically, it only had a total of 20 games. Idiots!


2. Tapwave Zodiac (fewer than 200k sold)
The Tapwave Zodiac was another touch-screen handheld released shortly before the Nintendo DS in 2004. Despite its robust feature set including Microsoft Office support, MP3 and video playback, and an internet browser, the gamer-aiming system clearly lacked Nintendo's portable pixie dust as it did little right. The system was largely doomed at its birth being that Palm-base devices were already on their way out. More detrimental, however, was that Tapwave had zero experience in gaming, not to mention a piss-poor marketing budget to go up against both Nintendo and Sony. A year later, it was "game over" for the Zodiac as Tapwave declared bankruptcy.


1. Gizmondo (fewer than 25k sold)
Oh, the Gizmondo! Where to begin with this Euro trash? For the sake of time let's just summarize the mediocrity. The handheld was released in 2005 with two versions; a $400 ad-free unit and a $229 ad-supported unit. Only eight of the 14 planned games were ever released because the Gizmondo was never about launching a viable gaming machine; rather it was a front for company president Stefan Eriksson to sucker (ahem, bully) investors for money, throw a year long party, spend exorbitant amounts of cash, and bifurcate Ferrari Enzos in southern California before getting arrested for Swedish mob ties then going bankrupt a year later. Utter incompetence. Top handheld failure.


See also: The 10 Worst-Selling Consoles of All Time