Useful Notes / Gizmondo

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Tiger Telematics' note  sole attempt at entering the lucrative handheld gaming market, the Gizmondo (March 2005-February 2006) is one of the more interesting failures in video game history.

The handheld began with massive potential unlike most of its competitors at the time (sans the N-Gage, its main rival), the Gizmondo supported a variety of features which were surprisingly ahead of its time, including real-time 3D graphics along with 2D sprites, bluetooth wireless support, the built-in ability to send text messages and emails (which was still a new thing at the time for handhelds), a 1.3 megapixel camera, and there even plans to make it capable of playing movies on the go. It even had the option to have a fully-functional GPS installed onto it!

But despite all of these features and initial anticipation of it being a success, the Gizmondo ultimately crashed and burned with both critics and retail, for the following reasons:
  1. Despite an ambitious ad campaign, finding the thing in a store was next to impossible it was only available on the Gizmondo website, in the occasional strip mall, or from the Gizmondo shop in London's Regent Street (which apparently chewed up a ton of the parent company's money and contributed to their early demise).
  2. There were two versions released at the same time. Both had identical hardware, but there was one significant difference between the two; the mainline Gizmondo came with a very expensive price tag of 400$, while the second model, the budget "Smart Ads" version, shipped for 230$, with the added catch that it forced you to sit through commercials while playing!note 
  3. A screen that was impractically small, about the size of a cell phone. A new Gizmondo model with a 4 inch widescreen format was announced In 2006, but it never saw the light of day.
  4. A positively pathetic battery life of 90 minutes when playing games!
  5. Speaking of games, first and third party support for the handheld was nonexistent—only eight released in the US, including peculiarities like Stickyballs and the unreleased Momma Can I Mow the Lawn?. Gizmondo developed half of the available library, and only managed to get one third party developer on board, Fathammer Games. 39 more titles were planned for the system, including support from other third parties like Sega, but all of them were cancelled. All of them were trashed critically and tanked at retail.
  6. And to add insult to injury, the aforementioned GPS software for the handheld was never released in the US (although it was briefly available for a week or two on the British website).

Needless to say, the Gizmondo was dead on arrival—it sold less than an abysmal 25,000 units, making it the second worst-selling system in video game history, and the worst selling handheld game system of all time note  prompting it to be discontinued in early February 2006 (less than a year after it's March 2005 release) and thus sending Tiger Telematics spiraling into bankruptcy. While a revival attempt was planned circa 2008, it was largely overshadowed by the fact that co-creator Stefan Erikson was involved in the Swedish Mafia, has been arrested on drug and illegal firearm possession charges, and was later found on a crashed Ferrari after speeding against a Ford GT—and then its other co-creator, Mikael Ljungman, was arrested and convicted on charges of serious fraud; all of that basically killed whatever chance the Gizmondo had left of making any kind of comeback.

On a side note, the handheld made the top of ScrewAttack's "Top 10 Worst Video Game Busts" list.


Technical specifications

  • Display: 72 mm (2.8 inch) TFT screen
  • Resolution: 320 × 240 pixels
  • CPU: Samsung ARM 9 processor running at 400 M Hz
  • Graphics: Nvidia Go Force 3D 4500
  • Graphics RAM: 1.2 MB 128-bit SRAM
  • Graphics Performance: 1,000,000 triangles per second
  • RAM: 128 MB 16-bit DDR
  • ROM: 64 MB
  • Sound: Built-in speaker
  • Communication: Bluetooth class 2 for multiplayer gaming, GSM tri-band
  • Ports: Stereo headset socket, Mini-USB client, SD flash card reader
  • Power: Removable battery
  • Temperature Range: 32°F to 130°F (0°C to 55°C)
  • Multimedia: MPEG 4 video playback, ability to play back MP3, WAV and MIDI files via Windows Media Player 9
  • JPEG camera
  • Removable SIM card
  • GPS tracking application
  • GPRS mapping application
  • GPRS Class 10
  • SMS
  • MMS receive and send
  • WAP 2.0
  • Polyphonic ring tones
  • Flight mode

Games:

  • Classic Compendium
  • Classic Compendium 2
  • Fathammer Classics Pack: Not released in the US.
  • FIFA Soccer 2005: Not released in the US.
  • Gizmondo Motocross 2005
  • Hockey Rage 2005: Not released in the US.
  • Interstellar Flames 2: Not released in the US.
  • Pocket Pingpong 2005: Not released in the US.
  • Point of Destruction
  • Richard Burns Rally
  • SSX 3: Not released in the US.
  • Sticky Balls
  • Toy Golf
  • Trailblazer: The handhelds launch title in the UK.

Cancelled Games:

  • Agaju: The Sacred Path of Treasure
  • Age of Empires
  • Alien Hominid
  • Ball Busters
  • Battlestations: Midway
  • Blood Bowl
  • Bollox
  • Carmageddon
  • Casino
  • Catapult
  • Chicane
  • City
  • Colors
  • Conflict: Desert Storm II
  • Conflict: Vietnam
  • Fallen Kingdoms
  • Furious Phil
  • Future Tactics: The Uprising
  • Ghost
  • Goal
  • Hit & Myth
  • Halo: Combat Evolved
  • Its Mr. Pants
  • Johnny Whatever
  • Jump
  • L.A. Rush
  • Mechassault
  • Milo and the Rainbow N Asties
  • Momma Can I Mow The Lawn
  • Race
  • Rayman
  • Speedgun Stadium
  • Supernaturals
  • Sega Classics Pack
  • The Great Escape
  • Tomb Raider
  • Verbier Ride
  • Virtual Squash
  • Worms World Party

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