Blueprint : The European Console
VoxelArcade Blueprint # 008
Let’s be clear about this: Europe has produced the most consistently stunning creative works of the modern age.
From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment; from the stage to the screen; from the laboratory to the art gallery; from our architecture to our fashion: Europe has (if you’ll permit my bias) been responsible for the most iconic, influential and inspirational creations that the world has ever seen. Sure, the Far East has a certain flavour that’s impossible to emulate and the Americas manage to pull things off with a certain swagger that’s hard to ignore – but it’s Europe that strikes by far the best balance between intelligence, ingenuity, creativity, originality and, well, cool.
So why haven’t we ever had a successful European console? Why do we look perpetually to our left or right for the next piece of hardware? More importantly: in what other creative medium would we accept this kind of wholesale cultural import?
Throughout the late 70’s and 80’s, Europe produced a whole slew of notable home computers from the iconic Sinclair ZX Spectrum to the Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, Robotron KC87, Dragon 64 and the Acorn Archimedes. These machines sat proudly side-by-side on the global stage with their American counterparts such as the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST and Apple II. But as the world moved away from the exclusivity of the home computer and into the arms of consoles, why did Europe completely drop-off the radar? In fact (and I stand to be corrected on this), the only European-designed and manufactured console we’ve ever had was the ill-fated Amstrad GX4000. A re-boxed iteration of one of Amstrad’s succesful CPC home computers; the GX4000 was a generation behind the curve and was promptly given a bloody-nose by both the SNES and the MegaDrive. It shifted a mere 15,000 units before its premature demise.
The Amstrad GX4000: makes a solar eclipse look common as muck
So, props to Lord Sugar, but it’s been America and Japan ever since. Aren’t we about ready for a change?
Obstacles notwithstanding: a European-designed and manufactured console would be a complete breath of fresh air. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a bit tired of Japanese console manufacturers seemingly losing the plot mid-translation or their American counterparts trying to ram yet another Machiavellian concept down our throats. The whole thing makes me want to scream at times.
But that’s a culture-clash for you. It’s why I’d throw myself under a truck if all European culture was wiped-off the face of the planet and completely replaced with someone else’s. Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely love creative and cultural diversity but it’s also nice to, y’know, feel at home? Feel represented? Feel like you’re in on the joke? I mean, seriously: what would the world be like without any European fashion, music, art, literature, theatre, architecture, sculpture or poetry?
Oh, yeah: it’d be like the modern-day console business…
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