Meet Project NEMO, The Nintendo Killer That Never Was
Posted by Damien McFerran
The amazing story of Hasbro's video-based games console
The history of the video game industry is filled with runaway successes, such as the NES, SNES, PlayStation and Xbox, but for every best-selling system there are just as many duds. Back in the '80s, many big companies saw how well Nintendo and Sega were doing and wanted to grab a share of the pie — including toy giant Hasbro.
The brainchild of Atari founder Nolan Bushnell and overseen by Tom Zito, Project NEMO and its software were created by a team of industry veterans — including David Crane, Steve Russell, Ken Melville and Rob Fulop — and used full motion video to create visuals which were a cut above the crude, pixel-based images produced by consoles of the period. Hasbro wanted the new system to spearhead its move into the realm of interactive entertainment, but things didn't go according to plan.
The console, which was intended to sell for less than $100, never saw the light of day but some of its games — including Night Trap and Sewer Shark — were resurrected years later on the Mega CD.
You can read the whole fascinating story over at IGN, but one of the most interesting revelations relates to the codename for the system. There was an internal contest to create a catchy acronym for "NEMO", and the only rule was that the 'N' had to stand for 'Nintendo'. Rob Fulop was ultimately successful:
I am proud to say that I won. My winning entry was ‘Nintendo Ends Mid-October.'
Project NEMO — which would have launched with the name "Control-Vision" had it made it to store shelves — may have faltered, but FMV gaming came on strong during the early '90s thanks to the emergence of cheap CD-ROM storage. However, the lack of interactivity led to many gamers dismissing it entirely, and by the time the PlayStation and Saturn arrived in the middle of the decade, FMV games had all but died a death. It's interesting to think that we could have had a console devoted entirely to "video" gaming in the 1980s, though — perhaps the gaming landscape would have been much different had Hasbro's system actually made it to market? Share your thoughts by posting a comment below.