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1995: Sega Saturn, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Virtual Boy
For game consoles, 1995 was a watershed year, beginning with the promising but ill-fated Sega Saturn, reaching a pinnacle with Sony's original PlayStation, and sinking to irrelevance with the Nintendo Virtual Boy.
The powerful Sega Saturn console came equipped with two 32-bit CPUs and various other multimedia processors. It debuted with a hefty sticker price $400, several months ahead of the $300 Sony PlayStation. Though its games included Sega Rally, Daytona USA, Virtua Fighter 2, Quake, and Duke Nukem 3D, many developers had difficulty squeezing the most from its complex hardware. By 1997, it had fallen to third in popularity among consoles, behind the PlayStation and the Nintendo 64 (released the following year).
Sony's 32-bit PlayStation sold in record numbers right from the get-go. Aided by the Japanese giant's well-oiled marketing machine and a great lineup of launch titles (like Battle Arena Toshinden, Wipeout, and Ridge Racer), the $200 PlayStation soon became the number one console in most of the world.
Sony has now sold over 100 million PlayStation/PSOne units, which are still available at retail in a slimmed-down format.
Nintendo Virtual Boy
The motivation behind Nintendo's poor old Virtual Boy remains obscure. This unique portable 32-bit console required the player to peer through rubber eye goggles to get the illusion of 3D graphics. The problem was that those images were in monochromatic black and red. As antisocial as gaming can be sometimes, having your head stuck in a headset may have set a new standard. It launched at $180 in 1985, and Nintendo killed it off the following year.