It’s Monday and time for Ask Kotaku, the weekly feature in which Kotaku-ites deliberate on a single burning question. Then, we ask your take.
This week we Ask Kotaku: What’s your least-favorite console you’ve ever owned?
I was going to say the Wii U, because that system and its slow, chugging menus was such a chore to use. But how can I knock a console that runs something as wonderfully ridiculous as Game & Wario? That at least tries to offer some semblance of back-catalog support for the great Nintendo DS? That reacts to me turning it on in the first place with a crowd of Miis rushing to greet me? I cannot hate you, Wii U.
Should I go with the middle PS3? That first Slim? Which dropped PS2 backward compatibility and was kinda ugly? But Sony sent me that one. I guess I didn’t “own” it.
Hmm. Anyone else not like the Dreamcast controller and think the wire came out of the wrong end? Just me? The rest of you love the Dreamcast? Fine, fine. I only borrowed it from a friend. Didn’t own that one, either.
Can I go with the Odyssey2? It wasn’t that good compared to all the other consoles I’ve had. My gaming life got way better when the Commodore 64 showed up. But my parents bought the Odyssey for me. They meant well. Hmm. Does picking this make me an ingrate? Can I brazenly renege on my own certified vote and pick, I don’t know, the original Xbox? No. I can’t sully Ask Kotaku like that. Sorry, Mom and Dad, let’s stick with it: The Odyssey2.
Easy. The Wii U. Buckle up, because I’m about to run down an exhaustive list of every game I owned for the thing:
Super Smash Bros.
Last year, I traded it in at GameStop for a $60 store credit, which I then used to pick up Rage 2 in the same exchange.
I’m taking a bit of a different angle. I’m a character who’s owned an Atari Jaguar, Panasonic 3DO, Sega 32X, and not one, but two Atari Lynxes. (Did you know Todd’s Adventures in Slime World had 8-player co-op?) These were all regrettable purchases that failed to supply a surplus of enjoyment. But aside from a brief burst with the Jaguar—I was so young and innocent!—they didn’t disappoint me. No, that honor goes to (gasp!) the PlayStation 4, which is why I have some unhappy feelings toward it.
The PS4 is my least-played Sony console ever, and not for lack of having one. I gave into FOMO and bought that thing on day one. When the nerd-lust cleared I quickly realized that binging on freebies Resogun and Contrast compared poorly to, for example, the legendary Dreamcast launch of Soul Calibur and Sonic Adventure. There was very, very little I wanted to play on PS4, a state which persisted for its entire lifespan. (I’m shocked every time I hear the system has, like, 3,000+ games. It doesn’t feel true at all.)
Bloodborne was great, and I still want to try a few other Sony exclusives, but my total PS4 play-time is probably less than two weeks. Part of it is that the game industry was moving away from creating the types of games that excited me, but it was also because so many games, especially indies, started being multiplatform. I had a PC on which those games were cheaper and usually ran better. Why lock them into a proprietary box that would be obsoleted in a few years? The PC made my PS4 like 80% irrelevant.
The net effect was that the PS4 felt bland, bland, bland, just another expensive game-VCR with little identity of its own to make me prefer it to any other one. Sure, I’d still choose it over Xbox One, but only because Sony had more Japanese software cred, and Xbox One was a sad, wounded animal, particularly before Game Pass. Outside of portables, it’s been a really underwhelming console generation for me.
Speaking of wounded animals, I got a Wii U at some point too, and just enough Wii U-based freelance to pay for it. Wii U has the dubious distinction of being literally the first console I’ve ever traded in. But it wasn’t as disappointing as PS4 because it didn’t have as far to fall. I hate being disappointed and uninterested, which gives PS4 a fair claim to being, not the qualitatively worst, but my least-favorite owned console.
I’ve only ever bought good consoles, and yes that includes the launch edition of the Xbox One (go to hell Luke) which I bought used a couple years later for super cheap and eventually grew into a very excellent Netflix box, and also ended up becoming home to the first true Netflix of games. But I digress.
The least-good console I ever bought was far and away the 3DS. I didn’t even buy it at launch when it had no games and was so busted Nintendo gave every early adopter a bunch of free stuff. I bought it several years later, once its library was decent, but was still aggressively underwhelmed. The 3D effect was nauseating when it wasn’t completely useless. The form-factor itself was cramped and hard on the hands, eyes, and my patience. Plus the clamshell hinge got loose real quick. Now I have a 2DS which is much better. I love it when Nintendo just tacitly admits that its original idea was crap, like when the Wii U bombed and so the company decided to just detach the controller and sell an upgraded version of it separately. Genius. Unlike the 3DS.
I tend to find a lot to love about most consoles I buy. Even the PS3, a console I never really cared that much about, had some good games on it and let me play online for free back in a time when I didn’t have a debit card or money. But there is one console I’ve owned that I never ended up liking and now find disappointing: the Wii.
Stop! Before you leave an angry comment or tweet, let me say three things: Super Mario Galaxy is fantastic. Boom Blox ruled. And WiiSports is still a genuine classic that deserves to be remembered.
With that out of the way, the console was a mess. Yes, some amazing games were released on it. But it also became a dumping ground for uninspired, terrible shovelware. And it quickly got left behind, missing out on a whole bunch of great third-party games because it lacked the power necessary to run them. Not to mention games never looked great on it. I remember trying and failing to make it look nice on my HDTV. Switching between it and my Xbox 360 made it hard to go back to the Wii’s blurry, low-res visuals. The motion controls were fine in very specific games, but felt too inaccurate or unreliable to use in numerous others.
But you know, it did give us two of the best video game songs ever recorded. I’ll never say anything bad about Mii Creator music or the Wii Shop Channel theme. In fact, these songs are so good maybe I shouldn’t consider the Wii my most disappointing console…I’ll pick the PSP instead!
I have loved every video game console I’ve ever purchased, save one. While every other electronic gaming device acquisition was followed by days of excitement, there was one I was done with within hours of bringing it home. I’m talking about the chonky, oddly-angled, not-closing-securely original Nintendo DS.
For one, I never got this design. I’d call it retro-futurist, but that seems a lofty term for something that looks like it was cobbled together as a prop for a ‘90s low-budget science fiction film. Why the weird dips where the controls are? Why the curves? Why did it not close flat? Basically, why was it not the Nintendo DS Lite, which showed up two years later in 2006 to right the wrongs of its predecessor?
For two, I may have picked the wrong launch games. Madden NFL 2005 for the DS was not great. Super Mario 64 DS was a good port of a game I did not like. Remember Sega girlfriend simulator Feel the Magic: XY/XX? I mean, now you might, but before that. No.
Subsequent versions of the DS—the Lite, the XL, the 3DS—went on to become some of my favorite gaming devices of all time. It was just a really, really rough start.
Kotaku’s weighed in, but what’s your take? Has a console purchase ever left you with buyer’s remorse? Or maybe not. Have your say! We’ll be back next Monday to deliberate and debate on another nerdy issue. See you in the comments!