There have been many failed consoles. There have been many overpriced consoles. There have been many failed, overpriced consoles. But unless you are in the tiny niche of interactive movie freaks, it is hard to imagine a system with a worse bang for the buck than Pioneer's short-lived LaserActive.
By itself, it is just a LaserDisc movie player (and a very barebones one, not even S-Video output). But with the help of optional modules, it would run Mega Drive, Mega-CD, TurboGrafx-16 and TurboGrafx CD games. Why even count it as a separate console, then? Because the same modules also allowed it to run LD-based games. These were mostly straight ports of interactive movie arcades, with much better video quality than their CD-based ports, along with several "crosshair over movie" rail shooters, some educational titles, and even strip mahjong/"photographer" adult games.
(As an upside, the LaserActive's video encoder is much better than the ones in a Sega Genesis or a TurboGrafx-16; so while it's still not quite S-Video quality, it sports better video over composite than the original systems.)
The major problem with the LaserActive was the price tag: the core unit alone cost $970, and the game modules went for $600 each. Now do the math, account for inflation, and imagine yourself paying $3500 for a game system (and that's not even counting the modules for karaoke, computer interface, and 3D goggles).
So, most expensive console ever? Surprisingly, no, that'd be the Halcyon.
|Road Prosecutor||Interactive Movie||Sega||A port of the arcade "Road Blaster". It is another interactive movie based game. Like the others, your object is to react to the on screen commands faster enough. This is probably the hardest game I've played of this genre. You must respond "lightning" fast or you'll be dead in an instant. Play it drunk for a laugh!
The variations on the Laserdisc are "Road Avenger" and "Road Prosecutor" depending on which region of the Sega Module you have plugged in. The game was ported to a boatload of other platforms including: Sega CD, MSX, Sega Saturn, PS1, 3DO... and there's also a fan-made port to, believe it or not, the SNES. The Laseractive version is the rarest and the closest to the original arcade as possible with the best video, although the Sega CD version is said to have the best audio. Gameplay
|Time Gal||Interactive Movie||Sega||Time Gal started it's life as an arcade game in Japan. Also inspired by "Dragons Lair" and other laserdisc games, it's an interactive movie that involves watching the anime portion and reacting to the displayed prompts on screen. It's not as fun as Triad Stone IMO but it has it's charm. The main issue with this game is the annoying female voice acting in the English release. It was released for Arcade in 1985 and ported to the Sega-CD in Japan, North America, and Europe in 1993. Finally it came to the Laseractive only in Japan in 1995. There is also supposedly Japanese PS1 and Saturn versions of the game bundled with another arcade interactive movie game "Ninja Hayate".
The only version of this I've emulated is the Sega-CD version and that's the only way I've been able to do it. But don't put in too much effort for this one. Gameplay
|Triad Stone||Interactive Movie||Sega||Very similar to "Dragons Lair", the game consists of mostly watching an anime movie and pressing the corresponding arrows and buttons prompted on the screen. Failure to press the correct button fast enough will result in a lost life and you will be sent to the beginning of the level. You have 3 lifes and 2 continues. You are able to select from 4 different levels to start out and the others are unlocked as levels are completed. Oddly enjoyable and one of the few gems on the Laseractive. Was also ported to the Sega Saturn in Japan and the Panasonic 3DO renamed as "Strahl".
The Laseractive is considered the best version of this game and also the hardest to play because lack of emulation and rarity of working Laseractive consoles. It has a scoring system, an option to change the language (Japanese/English), and a difficulty option. The Saturn version carries over only difficulty selection, and the 3DO omits all of these extras. All 3 versions of the game have completely different opening sequences and level select screens. If you're trying to emulate and you aren't proficient in Japanese, emulating the 3DO version on the 4DO emulator would be your best choice. Gameplay
|Vajra / Vajra Ni||Rail Shooter||NEC||Probably the best games on the LaserActive, these are first-person rail shooters where you shot down enemies on a cool FMV background. The first one is more of a boss-rush where you fight flying mechas, while the second has you fighting actual enemies. These are system exclusives, meaning emulation is more or less out of question. Vajra gameplay Vajra Ni gameplay|
|Consoles||Philips CD-i - Commodore CDTV - Pioneer LaserActive - Sega Mega Drive - SNK Neo Geo - Super Nintendo Entertainment System - Funtech Super A'Can - NEC TurboGrafx-16|
|Handhelds||Bit Corporation Gamate - Nintendo Game Boy - Sega Game Gear - Hartung Game Master - Atari Lynx - Welback Mega Duck - Watara Supervision|
|Computers||Commodore Amiga - Atari ST - BeOS - Fujitsu FM Towns - Sharp X68000|