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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Wii Are Family: The 10 Weirdest Game Console Names

by Sid Shuman

Wii Are Family: The 10 Weirdest Game Console Names

10. Nintendo Wii

"While the code-name "Revolution" expressed our direction, Wii represents the answer....it's really not about you or me. It's about Wii." -- Nintendo.com

We don't think Nintendo Wii is a truly terrible console name, but it's an uncharacteristically risky choice, even for Nintendo. We admire its simplicity and its playfulness (the two i's represent multiplayer action, you see). But on the flip side, parents will have a hard time pronouncing it ("Nintendo...why?") and hardcore gamers will slam it because, well, they're jerk asses. On the other hand, The Big N is often at its best when it pushes boundaries, so maybe this wasn't such a bad name after all. Good luck convincing the fanboys, though.

9. Dreamcast

Sega's got a history of creating inspired console names: Sega Master System, Sega Saturn, and particularly, Sega Genesis sounded effortlessly sleek and powerful. But starting with the much-maligned expansion system 32X (aka "32 Why?"), Sega's fortunes sunk. Dreamcast sounds like the kind of overambitious, high-concept brand an undergraduate marketing major would conjure up the morning after a Saturday night bender.

And don't get us started on that Cinnabon swirl. Ugh.

8. GameCube

When it comes to naming video game systems, Nintendo runs hot and cold. Usually, simplicity is the best course -- "Game Boy" and "Nintendo 64" were smart, smart choices. But Nintendo's quirky side sometimes gets the best of it, leading to odd names like "GameCube." The name itself sounds harmless enough, but is much too generic to really convey anything at all. Worse, its passing similarity to the similarly square-named Xbox was bound to cause at least a little confusion. At least it was an improvement over the GameCube codename, "Dolphin."

7. CDi

Phillip's first (and last) foray into the video game market brought pain and suffering for the electronics manufacturer. But as bad as the games were, the name was even worse -- bland, lifeless, and forgettable, just like the console. There's just something about the name "CDi" that makes us assume that the system is designed to play those free DVDs that come inside corn flakes boxes.

6. N-Gage

Definitely a god-awful console name, even when you consider that most handheld systems already have terrible names (see Game Gear, Wonder Swan). Its similarity to the word "engage" suggests that Nokia wanted to highlight the system's wireless multiplayer functions. Too bad there are no decent games to take advantage of that feature!

5. Xbox 360

Microsoft didn't listen to the prevailing wisdom when it gave its first console the clunky sounding name "Xbox." But in designing the second Xbox system, Microsoft was worried that the name "Xbox 2" would look inferior next to "PlayStation 3" on a Wal-Mart shelf. The solution? Second guess Sony's PS 3 plans by tacking on an impressive-sounding, but utterly meaningless, number. The Xbox 360 was born.

When the final name was announced behind closed doors, we'll never forget J Allard explaining how the name 360 was chosen because, and we're paraphrasing, fun things move in circles (CDs, DVDs, merry-go-rounds). Yeah...that's the ticket.

4. Virtual Boy

Nintendo's first follow-up to the smash hit Game Boy was a victim of poor planning all around. A tripod-mounted gaming system? Ugly, red, monochrome graphics? Headache-inducing 3D effects? But the kicker was the name. Read one way, it sounds like a successor to the monster-hit Game Boy. Read another, it sounds like a euphemism for an imaginary friend. Either way, we weren't buying.

3. ColecoVision

Great system. Terrible name. The ColecoVision was manufactured by a company named Coleco, which stands for the Connecticut Leather Company. Yeah, we know what you're thinking -- not exactly the most elegant name for an electronics company. We couldn't agree more. Coleco agreed, too, and mostly manufactured leather goods and wading pools before going out of business in 1989.

2. 3DO Interactive Multiplayer

Stereo. Video. And now, 3DO. That was Trip Hawkins ambitious vision, a world in which 3D gaming was as pervasive and accessible as the TVs and radios down at the local Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, this dream soon turned into a nightmare -- the 3DO "Interactive Multiplayer" bombed, and bombed hard. Consumers were confused by the name -- it's pronounced "three-dee-oh," not "three-dee-zero." Even after moving to game development, 3DO never recovered.

1. Gizmondo

Well, they tried. We're guessing that Tiger Telematics' naming strategy was twofold: first, to convince gamers that their new handheld was a gizmo; second, to convince gamers that it's, uh, mondo.

Okay, we give up. There's no denying that this name just sucks. Need any more be said?

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