Innovation and creativity appear from time to time when a new console comes out. Time and time again gamers see claims from console manufacturers to change the game or how the user experience will be improved by the latest addition or change to the new machine. Often this turns out to be true. Just look at innovations like online gaming or analog sticks on gamepads. These things are commonplace these days, and gamers today may not know how gamers did without them generations ago.

Some developments in a new console’s feature arsenal are timeless and last for decades. Other new ideas, however, don’t quite have the same shelf life. These console features may have been clever, but they didn’t get used and didn’t stick.


ten Nintendo 64 Expansion Pack

The Nintendo 64 was an incredible machine in many ways. It broke new ground in the platforming landscape with the release of Super Mario 64 and had a catalog of classic titles such as The Legend of Zelda Ocarina Of Time and GoldenEye 007. It would be easy to launch many legendary titles with great 64-bit graphics. However, the secret was the Expansion Pak.

The Pak doubles the console’s RAM to 8MB. Unfortunately, only 3 titles required the Pak to play, although it also offered enhancements for other games in the library. Had more games required the Pak to work, gamers could have added some amazing titles to the catalog.

9 Playstation 2 online

Successor to the original PlayStation, the PS2 has one of the largest catalogs of games in the console’s history. The PlayStation 2 brought more than just an inexpensive DVD player to households.

When players think of online gambling today, it seems like it has been around forever, but it hasn’t. In 2002, PlayStation released a network adapter add-on for its second console which never saw full use in the West. With the widespread adoption of online console gaming a generation away, the network adapter was underestimated, as most gamers still relied on couch co-op for multiplayer titles.

8 The VMU of the Sega Dreamcast

The SEGA Dreamcast was the last console released by SEGA before slipping away to become software developers. Ahead of its time, the Dreamcast gave a real look at the consoles of the future. Online games, downloadable content, and a bunch of arcade ports perfect for getting started. The coolest thing, however, was the VMU, or Virtual Memory System.

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This little device was much more than a standard memory card. Each VMU had a screen displaying information about the game being played in real time. It promised to allow gamers to take parts of their game on the go. It was a nice feature in games like Sonic Adventure with the Tamagotchi-like Chao, but sadly overlooked in most other titles.

seven PlayStation Sixaxis Controller

With the release of Sony’s third generation of consoles came a brand new controller. The Sixaxis, released with the system in 2006, was the official controller until 2008 when it was replaced by the DualShock 3. The Sixaxis used motion control technology that could be implemented as a game mechanic.

Speculation at the time was that Sony had implemented the feature in direct response to Nintendo’s recently announced Wii console. Motion control was huge for Nintendo, but unfortunately PlayStation didn’t quite know how to use it effectively back then. The Sixaxis was not used significantly during the console’s lifetime.

6 micro nintendo ds

Nintendo is the undisputed king of the handheld console market. Starting with the game and the watch, Nintendo has consistently found its stride by making well-received wearable devices. Perhaps one of the most famous outside of the GameBoy was the DS.

Short for Dual Screen, the DS was a mega-hit. With great graphics, fantastic games, and unique features, Nintendo had a winner. The latest models may have had a camera implemented, but they all had a built-in microphone. This feature has been put to good use in some Zelda titles for the DS, but not much else. If only Nintendo had understood online gaming correctly, the microphone could have been revolutionary for its time.

5 Snap Xbox One

Xbox has had a tough time with the Xbox One, from its misjudged messages about game sharing during the reveal to the decision to focus heavily on the device’s TV features. One feature that is now widely used in mobile devices is Snap.

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Xbox Snap allowed gamers to open multiple apps at the same time, meaning users could open Netflix while browsing the web or open their Twitch chat while playing games in the other window. Poor implementation and low usage canned this great feature, which unfortunately was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

4 PlayStation Vita rear touchpad

Sony has done wonders in the console world. They have gone from humble beginnings as a Nintendo add-on console to being one of the console kings. Along the way, they dabbled in the handheld market and produced some excellent consoles.

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The PlayStation Vita succeeded the PlayStation Portable. It looked phenomenal, with console-like graphics, dual analog sticks, and even a touchscreen. On the back of the machine, there were even more touchscreen features. Almost the entire back of every unit was a touchpad that had huge untapped innovation potential, as shown in the fantastic To tear out by Media Molecule, but unfortunately not much else.

3 GameBoy Color IR Receiver

In 1998, Nintendo released the Gameboy Color console as part of its Gameboy line. The company had seen a huge increase in sales, thanks to a certain pocket monster collecting game, and decided that a new release was warranted.

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The Gameboy Color was very well received and sold well, it also had a nice little trick up its sleeve. The IR receiver on the top could be used to transmit information via infrared. It has been used wonderfully in Impossible mission, where the Gameboy could act as a TV remote control! More of these neat uses would have been welcomed.

2 Wii U gamepad camera

The Wii U was Nintendo’s half-step to the incredibly well-selling Nintendo Switch. A short life cycle for an often overlooked console was sad to see. The Wii U was misnamed and mistaken for just another accessory for its better-received ancestor, and yet it held great promise.

Without the Wii U, gamers would never have had the Switch, but the Wii U had one thing the Switch didn’t: a camera. The gamepad houses a camera that could be used to video call other Wii U users. Had Nintendo been online and streaming wise, the camera could have been a staple for future devices.

1 Nintendo Switch HD rumble

The most recent entry on this list, the Switch has been a hit for Nintendo and handheld gaming fans alike. Its dual nature as a home console when connected and a portable device to take anywhere has delighted gamers since its launch.

That’s not to say it doesn’t already have an underutilized feature. The joy-cons contain a feature called HD Rumble, which is amazing for immersion when used correctly. However, the only in-game instance that was maxed out was in Switch 1-2, a game for which Nintendo was unsure of releasing a sequel. That said, there is still time for them to properly use this feature to its full potential.

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