Coolest Game Console Prototypes, Ranked Purely on Appearance
Image Source: Graeme Boyd/@AceyBongos

Coolest Game Console Prototypes, Ranked Purely on Appearance

A fun look at what could have been.

One of the best parts of rumored or developed new consoles is the leaking of wonderful prototype images and schematics. Often, these can look wildly different from the finished product, but they spark the imagination in fun ways. With the Switch 2 still not finalized, we decided to rank the coolest console prototypes ever released.

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6. Nintendo DS Prototype

On the one hand, this is interesting because it’s clear Nintendo has a direct vision in mind when taking the Game Boy Advance to the next level. However, it’s not as fun and imaginative as other handheld prototypes. Though, the blank plastic does, in many ways, feel like it’s meant to resemble the SNES, which still earns it a few cool points. The blockiness is also surprising, considering how sleek the first DS model turned out. Overall, it is still a neat piece of gaming history, but not as exciting as other entries on this list.

5. Wii U Prototype

I find this one especially intriguing, not only for the broken-down version of the eventual Wii U controller but also for the fact that Nintendo was already basically conceptualizing the Switch. Though this would’ve proven insanely bulky and pretty terrible, it’s fun that the original idea was a screen with two controllers rather than the controls built into the tablet. The Frankenstein’s Monster aspect of this prototype has it on this list, though. Undeniably, this is hideous, but that’s precisely what makes it cool.

4. SNES Prototype

Honestly, I don’t even know how this thing is supposed to work, and I don’t even want to. The color scheme is so perfectly striking that it’s a shame that the only color in the US SNES version was in the power and reset buttons. That purple streak is absolutely awesome, and I assume both of these in the image shared the same function of having a weird lever function? It has the look of (assuming it front-loads the cartridge) feeding games into some sort of monster’s gaping maw. Plus, the weird suction cup feet of the right prototype really sell this thing as some sort of fun creature.

3. PlayStation 5 Dev Kit

This is probably the best example of prototypes I wish we actually got. I mean, look at this thing; it looks like something that would be at home on a shelf in RoboCop, and you wouldn’t even question it. The weird vent placement almost makes it seem like it’s meant to heat up food instead of playing video games, and I love it. While I love the final PS5 design that looks like Seto Kaiba’s coat, this is an undeniably superior console. However, I will also accept that it looks like it will eat my games, and I never get to see them again. That does seem like an excellent trade if I get that many USB ports, though.

2. NES Original Design

On the subject of consoles that look perfectly 80’s sci-fi, this thing is incredible. From the sleek angles to the excellent two-tone color, this thing is honestly so much better than the boxy front-loader we did get. I know the top loading would return with the SNES, but it’s cool to think about what it would’ve been like without the weirdly shaped cartridges with a high failure rate. The only place this console seems to be lacking is the weird controllers with a screen, but that’s not enough to discount how awesome this thing looks.

1. Original Xbox

For this one, I have absolutely no notes. The fact that Microsoft announced its foray into the console market (and the Xbox itself) by making it an actual X is utter perfection. The fact that their family of consoles only got further away from the X motif is a crime, considering that this prototype is a terrific statement piece. I’m sure it’s massively bulky, and there’s no way to make it look good in an entertainment center, but it delivers on the name better than any other console, prototype or not.

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Cameron Waldrop
Cameron is a freelance writer for Twinfinite and regularly covers battle royales like Fortnite and Apex Legends. He started writing for Twinfinite in late 2019 and has been lucky enough to review many really great games. While he loves a good shooter, his heart will always belong to JRPGs.