The big trio of video game consoles these days take the form of the Nintendo Switch, PS5 and Xbox. Of course, there are also alternatives like Valve and Analogue. But sometimes, brands you wouldn't associate with gaming decide to give these giants a run for their money with some truly weird and wonderful console designs.
These gaming consoles might not be entirely serious, or at least aren't intended as real competition, but they can be quite ingenious. And while the gaming might not be up to that much, they can sometimes have other uses entirely (if you're not convinced, see our guides to the best Nintendo Switch deals and the best PS5 deals for the best prices on more traditional consoles)
01. The McDonald’s Chicken McNugget game console
A McDonald’s gaming console? And in the shape of a Chicken Nugget? It's totally bonkers but also complete genius. The tiny handheld device only plays Tetris, and it's only available in China, but it's the perfect retro throwback to old-school gaming devices in a very novel form. Spotted by Retro Dodo, the console was designed to celebrate 40 years of the Chicken McNugget.
02. The KFConsole
But incredibly, McDonald's wasn't the first fastfood giant to announce a gaming console. Even more bizarre was the December 2020 announcement of the KFC console, or KFConsole as it was wittily branded. In what sounded like an April Fools' prank accidentally posted at the wrong time of year, KFC announced that it had teamed up with computer cooling brand Cooler Master to manufacture a gaming console that could heat your dinner. The McDonald's console looks like a chicken nugget, but the KFConsole would actually heat chicken.
Billed as the world's first (I think we can probably also say last) gaming console with a built-in chicken chamber, it promised that through the use of "the system's natural heat and airflow system you can now focus on your gameplay and enjoy hot, crispy chicken between rounds." All while running "the latest titles in stunning 4k, 240fps" with Asus-powered graphics and an Intel Nuc 9 chip.
It was essentially a glorified gaming PC that heats chicken, which sounded like a game-changer to us. But unfortunately, more than two years later, it seems the console was a joke... we think. It still features on the Cooler Master website, but there's been no further news. So McDonald's may have been late, and its device only has one game and only looks like chicken, but at least it delivered.
03. The Bud Light BL6 console
While the KFConsole could supposedly heat food, here's a weird video game console that could cool. To mark the release of the PS5 in 2020, the US Budweiser beer brand stepped up with its own 'next-generation console', the BL6. Also serving as a beer cooler, it came pre-loaded with 6 Bandai Namco games including Tekken 7 and SoulCalibur V and had its own bespoke controller and built-in 720p ASUS projector. Bud Light even provided a handy spec sheet comparing the BL6 with the PL5 and Xbox Series X. It might not have offered the same level of gaming, but, well, it could cool beers.
However, any gamers sold by the idea may have been disappointed to discover that the Bud Light console would be even harder to get hold of than Sony's latest offering. A limited number were sold at auction at ShopBeerGear with bids reaching $50,000. Proceeds were donated to the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation's "Change is on the Menu" campaign to support restaurant workers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Special mention: the Xbox Mini Fridge
Bud Light may have been on to something with its beer-cooling game console, however. Worthy of a special mention, the remarkable Xbox Fridge was unveiled just a year later. Microsoft had endured endless mockery for the Xbox Series X's giant shape, which many compared to a fridge. So it decided to show it had a sense of humour and was pretty chilled about the whole thing.
So chilled, that it went with the fridge analogy and actually built an Xbox Series X Fridge, or rather an Xbox Mini Fridge to give it its full title. Made by Ukonic, it isn't actually a gaming console – it's simply a fridge that looks like a game console. And it can only hold a few cans, but unlike KFC and Bud Lite, at least it actually produced the device at scale.