Remembering the Apple Pippin, Apple’s Failed Console Entry

in games •  6 months ago

Console gaming has always been alluring to computer companies. Gaming in general has been alluring. I read somewhere that it was not spreadsheets that pushed graphic card enhancements to the levels they are today. That is very true. Video games as a business has been worth hundreds of billions of dollars since the early days. Maybe that is what drove Apple to attempt to make their own console in the mid 1990’s. It was clear in Apple OS updates that gaming was a new focal point for the company on the computer side of things, why not go ahead and go full monty with gaming? The result was the Pippin console.


The Apple Pippin was interesting, at least from a hardware standpoint, though it came at a much higher cost to consumers. For instance, the Sony PlayStation console shipped with a double speed CD-ROM drive while the Apple Pippin shipped about a year later with a four speed CD-ROM drive. This would help with loading times in games (something Nintendo cited in defense of using cartridges with the Nintendo 64).

The Pippin also shipped with a combined six megabytes of RAM with the PlayStation not shipping with nearly as much. The problem with the Pippin is, that memory is shared across the whole system with very little specifically available for certain features.

That is all fine and dandy but how do the games play and what was so unique about this stripped down Apple Macintosh minus a keyboard?

Well, that is where things drop off for the Pippin .

Developed by Apple, manufactured by Bandai, the Pippin was, well, a console no one really asked for.

Sure the 3D was better than what the PlayStation was offering at the time but the titles just were not household names. If Bandai could have secured Doom for the Pippin on launch then maybe that would have helped.

While hardcore gamers today know Marathon as a great franchise, in the mid 1990’s it was not nearly as popular.

Check out these videos of some of Pippin's games in action.

Racing Days is a car driving title.

There was also a port of Shock Wave: Invasion Earth: 2019 (it never happened that we know of) which was also available on 3DO and PlayStation.

While the Pippin was doomed to failure from the getgo, it was still an interesting release. It is also worth noting that games and the consoles themselves are not region specific if you decide to hit eBay and add this expensive console to your library.

The Pippin was released on September 1st, 1996 in North America. It stands as the only official attempt at a gaming specific platform from Apple. Less than 20 games were officially released for the console.

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A fascinating little machine, if little more than a curious footnote. One wonders what might've happened if the Pippin had superior marketing and games.


From my understanding of the hardware, the Pippin was doomed from the getgo. It was hogtied by that shared memory - while six megs is a lot at that time for a console, it being shared across the system creates bottlenecks worse than those in the Atari Jaguar or Sega Saturn.

Still, had they been able to work it better, mature the software a bit, hell, even open it up as a full blown Mac, it could have become something of a contender for at least a year or two.

The problem is when they released it and the price point. PlayStation was already out at a much better price point, even the Saturn was better price wise.

They basically attempted the 3DO effect with nearly the exact same intent. It is no wonder the results were actually worse because at least the 3DO had 16-bit to fight and was the first of its kind so they had improved graphics on their side. Pippin didn't even have that.


You know your system's a mess when its flaws are described as worse than the Jaguar (much less the Saturn).