Obscure consoles: Apple-Bandai Pippin

By Mike on 8:00 pm

Filed Under: , ,

Apple is a gaming juggernaut today. Millions use their iOS devices to play countless games available on demand. This came at the end of a long road for company. Their Mac OS operating system was never designed with gaming in mind. It long stood in the shadow of the Windows PC. The pre-Jobsian era were dark days. Despite that, they decide to build a standalone console, on the same horrible platform. Like many things Apple did at the time, the Pippin never made sense.

It was the mid-1990s and Steve Jobs had yet to return. The video game market was flooded with consoles already. Naturally, Apple jumped in screaming "me too." The company never intended to release a system on its own. They instead chose to partner with Japanese game publisher Bandai. The result was a beautiful mess.

Looks like PowerBook, plays like one too

Like all Apple computers of the era, the Pippin was expensive and under-powered. The console used a PowerPC 603 processor at 66mhz and had a scant 5mb of RAM. Apple intended to make the Pippin into a low cost computer as opposed to just a game system. Perhaps they were channelling the Commodore 64. Unfortunately, the Pippin excelled at neither. All this came at a hefty $599 price tag.

The "Apple Jack" controller proves
why we don't use trackballs anymore

There was nothing particularly wrong with the Pippin. It worked, and it's games actually did look ok, if not somewhat dated. It was also one of the first consoles to feature a built in modem for online gaming. The controller was unique, featuring a trackball instead of an analogue stick. It also featured Marathon 2, which in many ways was Bungie's prequel to the hit Halo series.

Marathon 2 was the Pippin's most notable game.
Bungie would go on to develop Halo for Microsoft.

Despite it's unique features, the Pippin couldn't shake the high price, or lack of games. Only 18 games were released in the United States. Most gamers found that any capable Macintosh running Mac OS 7 could play them.

PC World put it best when they named the Pippin the 22nd worst tech product of all time.
"Underpowered, overpriced, and underutilized--that pretty much describes everything that came out of Apple in the mid-90s."

Image courtesy of TNW

0 comments for this post