Great console features that have been underused

Innovation and creativity come out every once in a while when a new console comes out. Over and over again, gamers see console manufacturers’ claims of changing 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 controllers. These things are commonplace these days, and today’s gamers may not know how gamers generations ago got by without them.

Certain developments in the functional arsenal of a new console are timeless and will last for decades. However, other new ideas don’t have quite the same lifespan. These console features may have been clever, but they weren’t used and didn’t survive.


10 Nintendo 64 expansion pack

The Nintendo 64 was an incredible machine in many ways. It broke new ground on the platformer landscape with the release of Super Mario 64, boasting a catalog of classic titles such as: The Legend of Zelda Ocarina Of Time and Goldeye 007. It would be easy to spawn numerous legendary titles with great looking 64-bit graphics. The secret behind it, however, was the Expansion Pak.

The Pak doubles the console’s RAM to 8MB. Unfortunately, the Pak only required 3 titles to play, although it also offered some improvements to other games in the library. Had more games required the Pak to run, players could have added some incredible looking titles to the catalogue.

9 PlayStation 2 Online

As the successor to the original PlayStation, the PS2 is one of the largest gaming catalogs in all of console history. The PlayStation 2 brought more than just a cheap DVD player into the home.

When gamers think about online gaming today, it seems like it’s always been there, but that’s not the case. In 2002, PlayStation released a network adapter add-on for their second console, which was never fully used in the West. With mainstream adoption of online console gaming a generation away, the network adapter was underappreciated as most gamers were still using couch co-op for multiplayer titles.

8th The VMU of the Sega Dreamcast

The SEGA Dreamcast was the last console released by SEGA before he made his way as a software developer. The Dreamcast was ahead of its time and gave a real glimpse of the consoles of the future. Online gaming, downloadable content and a bunch of perfect arcade ports to boot. The coolest thing, however, was the VMU, or Virtual Memory System.

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

7 PlayStation’s Sixaxis controller

With the release of Sony’s third generation of consoles came a brand new controller. Launched with the system in 2006, the Sixaxis 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 game mechanics.

It was speculated at the time that Sony had implemented the feature as a direct response to Nintendo’s recently announced Wii console. Motion controls were huge for Nintendo, but unfortunately PlayStation didn’t quite know how to use them effectively back then. The Sixaxis was not put to good use for the life of the console.

6 Nintendo DS microphone

Nintendo is the undeniable king of the handheld console market. From Game and Watch onward, Nintendo has consistently found its groove by making well-received handheld devices. Perhaps one of the most famous alongside the GameBoy was the DS.

Short for Dual Screen, the DS was a mega hit. With great graphics, awesome games, and unique features, Nintendo had a winner. The later models might have had a built-in camera, but all had a built-in microphone. This feature has been used with great success in some cases 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 Xbox One snap

Xbox has had a difficult time with the Xbox One, from misjudging game-sharing claims at the reveal to the decision to focus heavily on the device’s TV capabilities. One feature that is now widely used on mobile devices is Snap.

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

4 The PlayStation Vita’s rear touchpad

Sony has worked wonders in the console world. They have grown from humble beginnings as a Nintendo add-on console to 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 was the successor to the PlayStation Portable. It looked phenomenal, with console-like graphics, two analog sticks, and even a touchscreen. There were even more touch functions on the back of the machine. Almost the entire back of each unit was a touchpad, which had huge untapped potential for innovation, as the fantastic shows tear away by Media Molecule, but unfortunately not much more.

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 particular pocket monster collecting game and decided a new version was warranted.

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

2 Wii U gamepad camera

The Wii U was Nintendo’s half step towards the incredibly well-selling Nintendo Switch. A short life cycle for an often overlooked console was sad to see. Badly named and mistaken as another accessory for its better-received ancestor, the Wii U still showed promise.

Without the Wii U, gamers would never have gotten the Switch, but the Wii U had one thing the Switch doesn’t have: a camera. The gamepad houses a camera that can be used for video calls with other Wii U users. Had Nintendo been smart with online and streaming, the camera could have been a must-have for future devices.

1 Nintendo Switch HD Rumble

The newest entry on this list, the Switch has been a success for Nintendo and fans of handheld games. Its dual nature as a docked home console and a portable take-anywhere device has delighted gamers since launch.

That’s not to say there isn’t already an underutilized feature. The Joy-Cons include a feature called HD Rumble, which is incredibly immersive when used properly. The only instance in the game where this was used to its full potential, however, was 1-2 switch, a game that Nintendo wasn’t confident about releasing a sequel to. However, they still have time to take full advantage of this feature.

MORE: Sony may be working to make old peripherals compatible with modern Playstation consoles Great console features that have been underused


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