When asked to think of a ‘console’, most of us have two easy answers – Xbox and PlayStation. Throw Nintendo into the mix and you have the three biggest consoles on the market, sitting alongside PC as the core platforms for gaming. There is, however, a bit of a market for niche, third party consoles that have been attempted by different parties. Here’s just a few of the weirdest consoles that have been released in recent years, from KFC’s gaming breakaway to Soulja Boy’s slightly illegal attempt at a brand of consoles.
Starting with the most recent, and possibly weirdest, we have the KFConsole. The brainchild of a KFC collaboration with hardware specialists Cooler Master, the KFConsole comes packed with ray tracing and 4k resolution capabilities. It also has support for virtual reality, in case you wanted to get fully immersed in using a bargain-bucket shaped system as a gaming device. Interestingly, the graphics card has been described as ‘hot-swappable’, meaning you should theoretically be able to shove one of those ultra rare 3080ti’s in there to make your graphics even better.
Let’s get to the main draw of the KFConsole though – the chicken. Yes, the unique feature of the KFConsole is that you can place fried chicken in the patented Chicken Chamber, which uses the system’s natural heat and airflow system to keep your wings warm while you game. There’s no release date for this immense work of fast food/computing genius, but having been revealed in December we could feasibly see it in the coming year. That’s it, really. Oh, and it’s shaped like a Bargain Bucket.
This one isn’t too ‘weird’, but for the period in which it came out and the wacky journey it went on, Ouya deserves a mention. Founded in 2012, the Ouya is a microconsole that was funded with $8.5 million in Kickstarter donations, one of the highest earning projects in the website’s history. It was released officially in 2013 with an exclusive online store targeted at couch casual games – a lot of simple but nostalgic co-op and party titles found their way to this little console in the first year of its release. Interestingly, the console was also designed to be tinkered with and rooted, so that users could add their own hardware, as well as using in-built developer kits to make their own games that would release on the Ouya store.
Sadly, things weren’t to be for this unique microconsole. It was hard enough releasing the same year as the new generation of consoles, the PS4 and Xbox One, but attempting to take them on with about a quarter of the power on an Android system was retail suicide. The Ouya got some good reviews, with many enjoying its interesting controller and the simple but lovingly crafted console itself, but with many having spent their cash on the powerful new consoles, it was a doomed venture.
Ouya was bought out by Razer (the colourful keyboard guys) back in 2015, but the consoles were discontinued and software support officially ended in 2019. The Ouya was a plucky thing that tried its own David and Goliath story – but in the world of consoles, the biggest always wins.
PlayStation and Nintendo mini consoles
These were some curious little ideas by Sony and Nintendo, with both console giants releasing some significantly smaller versions of their classics – literally, the PlayStation and NES/SNES Classic Minis. The concept of these consoles was to pack a bunch of the best games from the systems into one slightly smaller replica capable of playing them from a preloaded state. They’re almost like officially licenced emulators, designed to let you relive (or first experience) the hits of the 80s and 90s on one simple mini console.
The NES Classic Mini came out in 2016, with its success leading to an SNES counterpart in 2017 and Sony following suite with their original PlayStation being given the shrink treatment in 2018. Some suspect the beloved N64 to be the next in Nintendo’s miniaturisation scheme, and we could always hope for an adorable little GameCube in the future.
There was still mixed reception though. The PlayStation Classic was criticised for its lack of some real hits in its lineup, like Tomb Raider and Crash Bandicoot. For the Nintendo Classic Mini, many fans were left perplexed when Nintendo announced they were discontinuing the first one after a year of massive sales that sold out the entire line – no one knew this was meant to be a limited time console.
Regardless, these mini consoles are well loved in the gaming community for their ease of use and the pure nostalgia they bring through the games and appearance of the console itself, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some more versions hit the shelves at some point.
Buckle up, because this one really is weird. We all remember infamous noughties rapper Soulja Boy (Tell ‘Em), right? He disappeared into relative obscurity in the 2010s, but resurfaced in 2018 with this ambitious range of ‘Souljagame’ consoles. It was a total failure, for a number of reasons.
The main fault is that, in reality, the Souljagame line of consoles were not made by him, and they weren’t even original. They were all horrific, bootleg hybrids with Soulja Boy’s name and likeness tacked on, and a host of pirated games. Combine this with false advertising, like Soulja’s claim that the system could run Nintendo Switch or PS Vita games and that the console itself had 800 games, and it didn’t seem like the most legal foray into the gaming world by Soulja Boy. The consoles were also grossly overpriced, sold at the claim of being ‘discounted’ despite the supposedly original price never being used (which is illegal in some countries) and some who ordered them never even had them arrive.
Unsurprisingly, these consoles did not go down well with the public, and the few people who got one to review had virtually nothing good to say. The consoles were removed from his website, and Nintendo even sent Soulja Boy a warning letter due to the ability of the consoles to run pirated Nintendo games. This can be seen as a bit of a lesson that the gaming world does not take kindly to lazy ripoffs. It might just be simpler to invest in a legitimate PlayStation or Xbox, or if you’re feeling less mainstream, an Ouya.