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What Could Have Been / Video Game Systems and Peripherals

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  • Atari was almost the American distributor of the Nintendo Entertainment System. A dispute between Atari, Nintendo and Coleco over porting rights to Donkey Kong resulted in Atari being sold off in the wake of The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 before the deal could be finalized.
  • Later on, Atari was approached by Sega about distributing the Sega Genesis in the US, but once again political disagreements resulted in Sega releasing their console on their own.
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  • The SNES intended to be backward-compatible with NES titles, but the feature was scrapped when they realized how much it would boost the price of the hardware. This is more evident by the fact that the respective buttons share the same input values. That being said, there's a handful of fanmade peripherals that let you do this.
  • The most infamous example of this trope in terms of video game consoles and peripherals, if not in terms of video games as a whole, has to be the fabled SNES CD-ROM, a peripheral for the SNES meant to be a joint project between Nintendo and Sony. However, disagreements between Nintendo and Sony eventually led to Sony making their own gaming console, the PlayStation, and the rest is history.
  • The Nintendo 64 Disk Drive (N64DD) was planned to be released outside of Japan, and its function was to add additional memory and space to allow the Nintendo 64 to have slightly more power and allow more content to be made due to the expanded storage. However, the add-on failed in Japan and localization plans were cancelled. Games still in development for the add-on were remade into regular N64 titles (such as The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask) or later released for Nintendo GameCube. Most of the games that were completed and released for the disk drive never left Japan.
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  • According to this article, the Game Boy Advance was to be built for Internet connections.
  • Nintendo GameCube:
    • The console in Japan had a second model by Panasonic that could play DVD Video. It was never released overseas due to Nintendo of America and Europe showing little interest in the device and not wanting to pay a licensing fee for each system sold, not to mention how badly the device flopped in Japan.
    • Nintendo had considered stereoscopic 3Dnote , a touchscreen peripheral, and motion controllers for the GameCube at various points, according to interviews with R&D staffers. All of these features eventually became the core aspects of future hardware, however.
    • The GameCube was supposed to have a greater focus on online support, but concerns of piracy thanks to an exploit in Phantasy Star Online led to Nintendo pushing online support aside.
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    • The system was capable of reading a 2043-block memory card, but Nintendo never released one. Third parties eventually did, however.
    • The GameCube service disc as well as the official SDK hints that the GameCube was supposed to be backwards compatible with the Nintendo 64, or at the very least its controllers and other accessories. Nintendo 64 support is nowhere to be seen on the final console, due to the GameCube obviously lacking a cartridge port and having different controller ports from the Nintendo 64.
  • The Wii was going to have fully developed motion controls from the beginning, but Nintendo had to scale it back due to the cost being too high and it would have been passed on to the consumers. Improved motion controls were added a few years later through the "MotionPlus" add-on.
    • The Wii hardware is capable of playing DVDs (since the Nintendo optical disc format is based on DVDs), and unused code, text saying "Watch DVD," and a DVD banner suggest it was originally going to feature DVD playback but was scrapped, likely because Nintendo believed it wasn't worth the small licensing fee they would need to pay for each unit. It can still be enabled with homebrew, though not in later consoles due to the drive chip being changed. There are also graphics indicating there were plans to have the Wii Remote act as a TV remote, which was later implemented with the Japan-only TV guide channel TV no Tomo Channel G Guide for Wii and the Wii U GamePad.
  • The New Nintendo 3DS was originally just planned to be the same as the original model, but with a faster CPU, built-in Amiibo reader, and with the extra controls from the Circle Pad Pro integrated. Shigeru Miyamoto was concerned that this wouldn't be enough of an incentive for existing users to upgrade, and pushed for the inclusion of the "super stable 3D" feature, which Nintendo had originally intended to keep reserved for the 3DS family's ultimate successor. This turned out to be a good call, as not only was the improved 3D widely considered the main reason to purchase a New 3DS, by the time their next system, the Nintendo Switch game around, stereoscopic 3D had been resoundingly rejected by the consumer market, resulting in it having a 2D screen.note 
  • Sega Dreamcast:
    • While developing the console, Sega actually trialed two designs for it. One was called "Black Belt," which was designed by Sega of America and used a Motorola CPU and a 3dfx graphics chip. The other was "Katana," designed by Sega of Japan and featured a Hitachi CPU and a PowerVR graphics chip. In truth, Sega of Japan never planned on using the "Black Belt" design, as 3dfx's chip paled in comparison to the PowerVR one, but used 3dfx in order to get information and software that would improve their own development toolsnote , which ultimately led to 3dfx suing Sega and getting an out-of-court settlement.note 
    • One of the peripherals planned for the system that were cancelled after the its discontinuation was the console's own Wiimote. No, seriously. Its similarities to Nintendo's later peripheral are uncanny, as it would have been a similar pointer-based motion controller.
    • The camera peripheral DreamEye was supposed to be released worldwide, but it ended up being Japan-only after the Dreamcast's discontinuation. Another side effect of this is that the device's motion-sensing technology (similarly to Sony's EyeToy and Microsoft's Kinect years later) ended up never being used by any games.
    • Sega was actually in talks with Microsoft in allowing the Xbox to play Dreamcast games. However, talks broke down when Microsoft refused to allow Internet connectivity for Dreamcast games. And if that hadn't killed the deal, then the cost of adding in the hardware necessary for the Xbox to emulate the Dreamcast would have done, as the former wasn't quite powerful enough to emulate the Dreamcast purely in software, and Microsoft were taking a big enough loss on the system as it was.
  • The Sega Saturn’s Video Hardware had a compatibility mode that was backwards compatible with the Genesis’ VDP instructions. That, and the presence of a Motorola 68K CPU as a co-processor, as well as the expansion cart slot being vertical and accepting co-processor cartridges, suggested that the Saturn at one time was going to be backwards compatible with the Genesis.
  • Sega was originally developing a low cost version of the Saturn with integrated modem and all the discrete logic moved to an ASIC to reduce cost as a bid to save the North American Saturn market. The product was scrapped after just two prototypes. Two reasons probably led to the project being scrapped: Firstly, it was developed in parallel with the Sega Dreamcast and the Dreamcast was not only having a tumulus development cycle of its own, but when the Dreamcast was almost ready to be launched, there was no reason to keep the Saturn alive, and 2, the device targeted the US market, which at the time Sega of America was run by Bernie Stolar, who hated the Saturn’s specifications.
  • The Xbox One X went under the code name "Xbox One Scorpio", to which Xbox boss Phil Spencer heavily hinted that it was going to be the actual name, but they couldn't get the trademark for the word.
  • Sega actually had some really ambitious plans for the Sega Genesis that ultimately went nowhere:
    • The SVP chip port of Virtua Racing for the Sega Genesis was supposed to be a market test and Sega had plans to re-release the SVP as a standalone add-on cartridge that other games that needed it locked-on to it, along with plans to re-release Virtua Racing for the add-on along with a port for Virtua Fighter. Three things caused this to fall through: 1. The poor reception to the high price of the Virtua Racing cartridge convincing Sega that there was no money in this upgrade, 2. The fact that Sega's Japan branch was actively objecting the development of the add-on and pushing hard for the development of a new console instead, and perhaps most importantly 3. A patent filed by Code Masters coincidentally detailing the design for such a device hitting the USPTO just days before Sega tried to file their patent. However, even if the SVP add-on did happen, impact would've been minimal and it would've been overshadowed by the 32X anyway.
    • The Genesis/Mega Drive was going to be the first console to receive a VR headset accessory, beating Sony to the punch by over two decades. However, Sega's lawyers put a kibosh on the plan after it was found that the beta testers were getting motion sickness due to the console constantly lagging. The technology wasn't ready yet. If they had tried again after launching the 32X which granted the console more processing power, they could've succeeded.
    • The Genesis originally had an internet modem designed for it called the Sega Meganet, though it was rather short-lived. Sega tried it again with the Sega Channel in the mid-90s with modest success. There were also plans for an online multiplayer peripheral called the Edge 16, which was designed with fighting games like Ballz in mind, but it never saw release.
  • Before there was the Nintendo DS, Sega was going to released its own handheld system with touchscreen... back in the mid-90s, as the successor to the Game Gear. Needless to say, the idea was way too ahead of its time, as development costs forced Sega to abandon its plans.

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