The Strangest Special Edition Game Consoles Ever

Special edition game consoles are always so much fun to look forward to. Whether celebrating a new game, referencing a pop culture icon, or marking a significant milestone, just about every game console has seen a number of notable special editions throughout the years. At least for us, though, special editions are usually admired from afar and rarely purchased; after all, unless you suffer from impeccable luck and fortuitous timing and a special edition release lines up with your need for a new console, you'd have to be pretty dedicated to a single theme to up and buy a new console just for its special edition. But even if that is the case, the most loyal members of fandoms spanning many fictional universes — from Pokémon, Star Wars, Minecraft, or anything in between — have all had an opportunity to snag a limited-release console dedicated to their franchise. 

There's always the risk that a special release just won't hit right for the interested fans, though. Tucked in the dusty, enigmatic corners of eBay are some old limited edition Xboxes, PlayStations, and Nintendos that will leave you scratching your head — these are the strangest special edition game consoles ever made. For some, the brand partnership for the special release is what makes the console weird (think fast food and cigarettes). With others, the design is a bit of a flop. Some are bizarre for how much money people are willing to pay to get their hands on one. And the remaining few aren't so much strange as they are just entirely remarkable and unexpected. 

Hitman Briefcase PlayStation 4

Move over, Agent 47. There's another gunman in town. According to 1Up Wonders via YouTube, this special edition of the PlayStation 4 was produced for a Square Enix raffle that commemorated the release of "Hitman," a third-person stealth shooter game launched in 2016 that puts the player in the shoes of — surprise — a hitman. Two more installments in the game have rolled out since then, but we are still fixated on this console. It's designed to look like the hitman's briefcase, popped slightly ajar, complete with a handle (not recommended to carry around by the handle, of course). All of the normal ports are accessible, but the hard drive is not, says 1Up Wonders.

Interestingly enough, no raffle winners were declared during the Square Enix event, reportedly thanks to technical difficulties. The producer of the special edition consoles finally got around to selling them at a "Hitman"-themed auction — four years later in 2020. Console Variations gave the "Hitman" console a legendary rarity score status. We don't think you'll see one of these turning up at a garage sale anytime soon.

Audio R8 Xbox One

To be honest, securing one of these special edition Xbox One consoles may be even more impressive than roaring around in the actual sports car it is meant to represent. That's because only three of the edition were ever produced, according to Windows Central. The consoles were given away back in 2016 by Xbox Germany to promote "Forza Horizon 3," an installment in a long-running racing game exclusive to Xbox consoles and PC platforms. 

The console is reportedly complete with leather accents on the sides, an ignition-like start button in place of the Xbox power button, the Audi logo, and mock grilles. The accompanying controller is trimmed in leather, too. The giveaway was originally only open to German residents, but who knows where those three consoles are now — hopefully, they still exist and function. In summary, a cherry red Audi both in the vehicle and Xbox versions is a bit much for our tastes, but it's definitely one of the most unique special releases out there. If you'd like to see something a little bit more low-key, the "Forza Horizon 3" release was commemorated over in Australia with a Lamborghini Centenario lookalike console that's quite a bit more understated (via GameRant).

Nintendo PlayStation

Certainly, a video game console that falls into the bizarre category is the Nintendo PlayStation. The history of this console is incredible and full of intrigue. 30 years ago, Nintendo and Sony briefly collaborated in an attempt to add CD-ROM capabilities to the Super Nintendo console, back when Sony was regarded as just a giant in consumer technology. The Super Nintendo PlayStation CD-ROM console was slated to hit shelves in 1992 in Japan, but — for reasons that remain a mystery to everyone, IGN reports — Nintendo suddenly backed out and announced a partnership with Philips instead. 

It's said that only a couple hundred Nintendo PlayStation prototypes were created, and now, only one known version of the console remains, according to Heritage Auctions, the auction house that oversaw the 2020 sale of the console. This last-of-its-kind console was once in the personal possession of Sony Computer Entertainment founder and first CEO Olaf Olafsson, says Heritage. Unfortunately for Nintendo, the Philips partnership proved to be far from a success, per IGN, while Sony obviously made off with an obvious victory, since it retained the licensing rights for those CD-ROM systems. The lonesome remaining console was discovered when an employee was cleaning out the New York offices of the company that Olafsson left Sony for, which shuttered up during the 2008 financial crisis. We think there might be more than a little regret in this story on both Olafsson's and Nintendo's part for walking away from Sony, but the ordeal left us with the rarest console in the world — a misfit that never got its chance.

[Featured image by Mats Lindh via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY 2.0]

Game of Thrones Xbox One

You may be familiar with the trio of limited edition Xbox One consoles that launched back in a 2019 "Game of Thrones" sweepstakes. But if the Iron Throne, House Targaryen, and Night King designs just weren't flashy enough for you, this French version of a "Game of Thrones" special edition should more than compensate. Only six of these consoles were given away, by Xbox France back in 2016. There is no better shrine to the Old Gods — and it's also stamped with the crests of major Houses in the book series, including Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen. And those bronze arches aren't computer generated for dramatic flair; they really do crown the actual console. A bit impractical for those of us low on space, sure, but we've definitely never seen a show of a special edition console like this. 

According to Game Rant, Xbox France also gave away box sets of the television show. The giveaway is long over, of course, and there doesn't seem to be any evidence of these consoles ever going up for sale — they could be beyond The Wall for all we know with how elusive this special edition Xbox is.

The Sony GayStation

PlayStation haters have long capitalized on the obvious play on words in the console's name — coming up with that requires about as much wit as the humor it evokes, but it has been a dig at the Sony console for a couple of decades now. (If you don't believe us, the authors of this 2007 Urban Dictionary entry can explain it to you. Don't let their ingenuity blind you.) Perhaps to these comedy trailblazers' chagrin, the sixth-grade jab at the brand was once reclaimed and capitalized upon for a Swedish LGBTQ fundraiser back in 2014.

While not an officially-licensed PlayStation console, the "GayStation" lit up the gaming world with its rainbow profile and Zelda-esque life heart when it sold to the winning bid of nearly $4,105, according to Tradera. The GayStation is rated as legendary on Console Variations — which makes perfect sense because, as far as we know, there was only one made. 

Stella Artois PlayStation Portable

If you have an equal love for Belgian beer and portable gaming, this will be your favorite special edition console. The Stella Artois PlayStation Portable was created as part of a 2008 advertising campaign to help the beer brand make a more lasting impression in beers and pubs, according to Ads of the World. The Stella Artois logo on the console's back isn't the only thing that made this edition special; the console's entire operating system and icons were altered in reflection of Stella Artois' style. The Belgian brewer is also quite involved in the world of film (LetterBoxd), so projects directed by Stella were uploaded to the PSPs, too.

The sales representatives would turn up to a prospective watering hole, branded PSP complete with custom hand-stitched black velvet protective bag in hand, and use the console to deliver their pitch. The PSP apparently created a more memorable case than posters and folders could because Ads of the World reports that every salesperson who used the consoles met their goals for the quarter. 

Console Variations says that the beer PSP is legendary — and since these 50 consoles have had almost 15 years to circulate, who knows where they could be?

MTV Nintendo Gamecube

Anyone old enough to remember the glory days of MTV may remember the Xmas Daily Broadcast of 2003, where 29 limited edition Nintendo Gamecube consoles were given away — one per day barring Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, and each console of the day being from one of five themes. According to Reddit, two were inspired by fashion designers — Paul Smith and Tom Ford — and another was camouflage. The fourth was a color scheme that MTV dubbed "metallic Snow White," but in reality was just white and blue. And the final edition was a faux wood design named Canadian Maple.

Console Variations states that just five of these Canadian Maple consoles were made, earning it the legendary rarity status. Maybe some lucky soul out there has secured every single version of the 20-year-old special edition Gamecubes in a Thanos'-gauntlet-style collection. The look of this faux wood reminds us of old wood paneling — which just further reinforces its undeniably retro appeal.

[Featured image by Ursinx via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | Ursinx, CC BY-SA 4.0]

McDonald's Nintendo DSi

Imagine you start a new job, and on your first day, you are handed a Nintendo DSi. Your company emblem is engraved on the console, and you're shocked to find that a game cartridge developed for and tailored to your company is loaded in the DSi — and this is how you will be expected to train for your position, by playing your way through the ins and outs of being a McDonald's cashier. This was an earnest pursuit by the fast food company, at least for a little while. According to Otaquest, McDonald's partnered with Nintendo in 2010 to manufacture around 8,000 branded special edition units, along with the cartridge loaded with McDonald's software to train employees through mini-games and videos. 

The Nintendos were used at McDonald's locations throughout Japan, but the fast food giant must not have been pleased with the results of the collaboration, because the practice never became widespread. Although, if you ask us, the whole "fun games for practical lessons" concept isn't entirely a bust. We wouldn't mind seeing Nintendo develop Switch games to help learn, for example, how to change the oil on a car or how to pay your taxes. If you want to learn how to make Big Macs on the Nintendo yourself, watch for a McDonald's DSi to come back into stock on eBay — for just under $1,500.

Xbox One X Gears 5 Edition

The fifth "Gears of War" launched back in 2019, and while it is far from the strangest or even most eye-catching on our list, this "Gears 5" edition of the Xbox One X is unique enough to earn a spot. The creepy skull peering out of the cracked stone facade would stop us in our tracks when walking through a dark house at night, and that's enough for us to consider it a quite bizarre console design indeed. If you can get past that though, you'll be fine.

The skull is actually the Omen, a widely-recognized "Gears of War" emblem, and the console is meant to look like a fractured surface of snow and ice, per Xbox. This limited edition Xbox console definitely isn't in the legendary realm; it can still be purchased through retailers like GameStop and Amazon, for anyone that wants a permanent jump scare fixture in their living room.

500 Million PlayStation 4 Pro

In 2018, sales of PlayStation systems officially surpassed 500 million consoles. To commemorate the achievement, Sony announced a limited edition 500 Million PlayStation 4 Pro, a stunning semi-transparent console made in a midnight blue color with bronze accents. Its limited release was accompanied by matching DualShock 4 controllers, a camera, and a headset. Snagging the whole special edition right at the release date would have set you back a pretty hefty chunk of cash — if you were even successful in purchasing everything before it sold out, that is. Only 50,000 units were manufactured, and while you can now get your hands on a used one for anywhere from $500-$750 on eBay, this special release was once in such high demand that units were selling for nearly $2,000 apiece (via Press Start).

If you're determined to get one of these PS4s into your collection, bear in mind that the dark, translucent material does have some drawbacks. As Game Informer explains, maintaining that sleek, glossy surface can be a bit of a pain, with how prone it is to fingerprints and scratching. 

Taco Bell PlayStation 4

There are way cooler-looking special edition PlayStation consoles than this, but if you are an original owner, the strange factor behind is, of course, how you won it — by eating mediocre tacos. In 2015, PlayStation partnered with Taco Bell to hype up the release of around 6,000 limited edition gold PlayStation 4s. According to Hot Hardware, the Taco Bell giveaway included the special edition console, an accompanying gold DualShock 4 controller, and a copy of "Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection." We'd hoped there would be something in the design of this edition to mark our devotion to fast, quasi-Mexican food, but the gold is nice.

The Taco Bell PlayStation has a mere rare status on Console Variations — there are multiple listings for this console on eBay, ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 in asking price — but if you manage to snag one, at least you'll have the stolen Taco-Bell-fanatic valor to brag about.

The fast food chain once partnered with Xbox for some limited edition consoles, too. According to Reddit, Taco bell Xbox 360s were given away back in 2012, and the design here is much more in line with the taco giant's brand, complete with deep purple color and outline of the bell logo.

Marlboro Atari Lynx

We wrap up our list with arguably one of the stranger brand partnerships out there: Atari game consoles and Marlboro cigarettes. This certainly seems like a collaboration that would never occur in modern days, especially since, in order to obtain this handheld Atari console in the trademark Marlboro-man-bright-red color, you were encouraged to purchase Marlboro cigarette packs and redeem the prize codes on each pack. The giveaway took place in Germany in the 1990s, according to 8-Bit Central, and unsurprisingly was unpopular enough that it was never recreated in the United States. If it wasn't the brand partnership that made Americans cringe, it was probably the fact that the Lynx was just a terrible console in general.

Only 50 of this cancer-stick-promoting special edition Atari were ever made, earning it the "epic" distinction on Console Variations. There doesn't seem to be much history of the Marlboro edition being resold online, so whatever units still exist are probably all held in private collections — no doubt living out longer, healthier lives than their original Marlboro-huffing owners.