Below is a recap of all the post we've covered in March 2010. If you missed any, or simply want to see them again, click on each "title" to be taken directly to that post. As always, thanks for reading.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
The Home Console War
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Okay, so try to keep up. This post spawned off of recent documentary I saw. It was basically the history of video game consoles, but yet, it wasn't very complete. Sure it was good, but there were way too many holes.
So, I did the only thing that came natural to me. I researched the subject myself, and put together my own little history of video game consoles.
The Magnavox Odyssey is the first home video game console, predating the Atari PONG home consoles by three years. The Odyssey was designed by Ralph Baer, who had a working prototype finished by 1968. This prototype is affectionately known as the "Brown Box" to classic video game hobbyists. Unlike most video game consoles, the Odyssey is analog rather than digital, which makes its invention all the more amazing in spite of its rather crude graphics and controller responsiveness. Also, unlike any conventional console today, this system was powered by batteries. The Odyssey and its variants also lack sound capability (hence a silent console), which was not uncommon in early PONG systems of that era.
The Odyssey was released in May 1972. While it did not perform badly, it did not take long before it succumbed to poor marketing by Magnavox retail chains. One of their mistakes was misleading consumers into believing that the Odyssey would work only on Magnavox televisions. It did, however, prove that consoles for the home could be designed.
In 1973, after the success of the original PONG coin-op, an Atari engineer by the name of Harold Lee came up with the idea of a home PONG unit. Since the PONG coin-op that Alan Alcorn designed was nothing more than the game board connected to an actual television set, he thought it would be possible to scale it down a bit and modify it for use at home. This would be a new direction for the fledgling Atari consumer electronics. If they could pull it off, they would be one of the pioneers of using high tech custom integrated circuits in the consumer industry.
In 1975 it was decided Sears would sell PONG under it's own specially created Tele-Games label, and production was initially projected at 50,000 units. This was soon raised to 150,000 for the 1975 Christmas season. Atari agreed to give Sears exclusive rights for the following year, and would continue to make custom Tele-Games versions for any future consoles. This was the beginning of a long relationship between Atari and Sears, which would continue even after Nolan Bushnell sold Atari to Warner.
MAGNAVOX ODYSSEY 100
The Odyssey 100 was an analog system which used four Texas Instruments chips. It did not use cartridges and played two games: TENNIS and HOCKEY. A simple switch selected the games, and the system was either powered by six batteries, or by an AC adaptor (such power supplies were widely used by other systems).
The Odyssey 100 was very basic and didn't have the common features of the million-seller PONG systems of the next years. The knobs were fixed: there were no detachable controllers yet. There was no digital on-screen scoring: the players marked their score using two little plastic cursors on the system. The serve couldn't be changed: it was automatic. This could seem strange compared to the first Atari PONG systems which already had digital on-screen scoring. In fact, this was just a question of technology. On-screen scoring would have required additional components, which would have increased the cost of the system. Nevertheless, on-screen scoring was added in later systems although the first attempts used archaic graphics. The first Magnavox system to offer digital on-screen was the Odyssey 300 in 1976.
MAGNAVOX ODYSSEY 200
Still in 1975, Magnavox released an improved version of the Odyssey 100: the Odyssey 200. It was same as the Odyssey 100 but with two additional chips from Texas Instruments, which added a third game called SMASH and some on-screen scoring. The Odyssey 200 could be played by two or four players (first system to offer this feature), and displayed very basic on-screen scoring using small rectangles (it still had the two plastic cursors to record the scores). Each time a player marked a point, his white rectangle would shift on the right. The winner was obviously the first whose rectangle would reach the rightmost position on the screen. Although the scores were not yet digital, the Odyssey 200 remained more advanced than the first home version of Atari PONG because it played three different games for two or four players.
1975 marked the beginning of a long history. Both Atari and Magnavox released their systems, and more advanced ones were to come.
ATARI SUPER PONG
Atari's sales of the Home PONG console were phenomenal to put it mildly. Atari would continue to cash in of the PONG franchise by releasing yet another home version of one of its arcade game assets. This time it would be Super PONG. Now home players could select for 4 different variations of PONG games to delight and entertain them for countless hours.
Meanwhile numerous knock-off PONG-type consoles were hitting the market. However, because of Atari's now well known presence in the coin-op market, its name recognition helped it stand out. Also Atari's unusual Pedestal design helped Atari stand out in the Sears Retail Stores as well as other stores who were now carrying Atari products.
When compared to the plethora of bland and boxy "Me-Too" consoles by so many other companies, the Atari PONG line of consoles simply stood out. Atari's consoles had eye catching rainbow colors and a deep and ear catching PONG sound from their built in speaker. Most other consoles were still far behind playing catch up with Black & White displays, flimsy controllers and some even without sound.
WONDER WIZARD 7702
The Wonder Wizard Model 7702 was sold in 1976 and contains a Magnavox Odyssey 300 circuit board housed into a derivate of the 1972 Odyssey case. The bottom part of the case is identical, only the top differs and was made in two versions: one with silver knobs and wood grain only in the section containing the "Wonder Wizard" name, and one (as pictured) with black knobs and wood grain everywhere.
Like Odyssey 300, this system used a 3-position switch to choose one of three predefined combinations of difficulties, avoiding the need to change the ball speed, ball angle and bat size separately. Few systems used this design and most others used individual skill level switches.
Telstar, Coleco's first video game system, was released in 1976 and played only three games with three difficulty levels. It was the first system to use GI's AY-3-8500 chip and was a real success: over a million units were sold.
The AY-3-8500 chip played six games with more difficulty levels, and the games could also be played in color. It was pretty obvious that Coleco would release more systems. At least 15 different games were released in two years with the only differences between the "pong" systems being the number of games, the way the difficulty levels were used, and the type of pictured (color or black and white).
An amazing detail is the way Coleco packed their video game systems, they were sold partially assembled. The systems were electronically ready to play, but the users had to put on the knobs and stick the decorative stickers on the plastic case. So far, only Coleco is known to have released their systems this way. It is believed that this was done to save on assembling costs.
COLECO TELSTAR CLASSIC
The Telstar video game console produced by Coleco first went on sale in 1976. It was a video tennis clone similar to Pong. With a price of $50, budget minded consumers loved it. Coleco sold over 1,000,000 units in 1976.
Released the same year as the original Telstar, the Telstar Classic unit was essentially the same as the Telstar. It simply added a classic 1970's wood grain case to it. This unit allowed 3 games (Tennis, Hockey, Handball) and 3 different skill levels.
In the Christmas season of 1977, nine new designs of the Telstar were released, each of them doing virtually the same thing. It was labeled "Video Sports" with four different games, all of them PONG clones. During its life span, Coleco had produced about nine different variations of their machine and tossed about one million 'obsolete' machines.
MAGNAVOX ODYSSEY 300
Magnavox used several Texas Instruments chips, each having a special function (collision detection, on-screen scoring, etc). Atari had the advantage of using the first chips often called "PONG in a chip", but the chips were not available to other manufacturers. Each different Atari system used a special chip. Of course, a few discrete components interfaced the chip to the system (video modulator, player controls, etc). These chips replaced most of the numerous components used in analog and digital systems. Although Atari chips were a smart design, the idea of integrating complex circuits into a single chip was a common idea at that time, and other video game manufacturers would soon release their own video game chips.
Magnavox continued with the Odyssey 300 in 1976, which was one of the first systems to use a single game chip containing the major circuitry of a PONG system (after the 1975 Atari PONG system).
MAGNAVOX ODYSSEY 400
Still in 1976, Magnavox released the Odyssey 400. It played the same games than the Odyssey 200 and used an additional Texas Instruments chip to display digital on-screen scoring (it was the first analog Odyssey system to display digital on-screen scoring). On-screen scoring was quite well designed. As a matter of fact, the scores were large and were only shown when the ball was lost, and a large 'W' letter was displayed on the winner's side when the games were over.
Like the Odyssey 100 and 200, the Odyssey 400 used the same three knobs to move the bats and control the "English" effect on the ball.
MAGNAVOX ODYSSEY 500
The Odyssey 500 was also released in 1976, and was very advanced for that time considering the technology used. It was in fact the only system of its kind. As a matter of fact, the white paddles representing the players were replaced by simple color graphics: two tennis players with their rackets (TENNIS game), two squash players (SQUASH), or two hockey players holding their sticks (HOCKEY).
Magnavox released the Odyssey 2000, 3000 and 4000 in 1977. The Odyssey 5000 was planned but never released. It was designed to play 24 games (7 different types) for two or four players. The Odyssey 4000 was the last PONG system released by Magnavox.
FAIRCHILD CHANNEL F
The Channel F was the first programmable video game system, having plug-in cartridges containing ROM and microprocessor code rather than dedicated circuits. Not a very popular or entertaining system, it was nonetheless important at the time for having a number of original features which were copied by later more successful systems.
Fairchild released twenty-six different cartridges for the system, with up to four games being on each cartridge. The games included sports, such as Hockey, Tennis and Baseball, educational, such as Maths Quiz, board games, such as Checkers, and shooting games, such as Space War. The cartridges had labels that contained the game instructions on them and each were given a sequential number. In this respect Fairchild started a trend in trying to boost game sales by numbering them and so appealing to consumers who wanted to complete their collection.
The Channel F console's popularity lowered when the Atari released their VCS in 1977 as the VCS had much better graphics, games and sound.
RCA STUDIO II
RCA could not accept the fact that they let the Odyssey slip through there fingers (Ralph Baer the designer of Odyssey approached RCA with the deal first), and into the hands of there TV rival Magnavox. The RCA Studio II was their answer to the Magnavox Odyssey. Released in 1976 a few months after the release of the Fairchild Channel F, it would have been the first programmable console (Fairchild beat them to the release gate).
The console was doomed from the start. The lack of a color display and control paddles made the unit old and dated. With only 8 games released, the Studio II suffered the same fate as Channel F. Overshadowed and rendered obsolete by the Atari VCS / 2600
The RCA Studio II should have been a color console, a few games were designed for color, but the video output of the console was black & white. A Studio II clone released in the UK called The Sheen M1200 was released in 1978, and produced PAL color with RCA Studio II games and was a more successful unit.
ATARI VIDEO PINBALL
In 1977, Video Pinball appeared as another Atari coin-op to stand-alone home console translation by bringing the game Breakout to home players. Offered first in the late 1970's Atari "first edition release" standard wood grain (also to be used on the Atari 2600) and then a second edition white molded plastic model. Bumper controllers on the sides or a dial on the front were used to control the games depending on the game selected. There were three game types - Pinball, Basketball, and Breakout.
Interestingly enough, Atari did follow up with an actual Video Pinball coin-op, two years after the release of their home console. It was a unique hybrid between video game and pinball technology that still has not been duplicated to this day. While some before and after tried using the video game part as a game within the game or simply to display unique animations (such as Baby Pacman, or the more recent Star Wars pinball hologram effect model), this was the first to actually use both technologies as an integral part of the game play.
ATARI STUNT CYCLE
All the thrills and chills of real stunt motorcycle riding right in your home living room, so much fun Evel Knievel must have had one! (Well... maybe). Stunt Cycle originally was an Atari arcade coin-op, then made into a stand-alone console shown here.
The original coin-op had been released in 1975 to take advantage of the then popular motorcycle stunt man Evel Knievel. Originally a motorcycle salesman who began doing stunts to draw attention to his store, by the early 70's he was a household name. Atari's coin-op attempted to capture the feel and fun of the stunt jumping Evel Knievel was famous for, and was a mild success.
Stunt Cycle gave the player a first person feel of riding a motorcycle, even though the image on the screen wasn't first person. You could jump cars and buses, if you played with the controls just right you could jump right off the screen, lots of fun!
ATARI VIDEO COMPUTER SYSTEM (AKA ATARI 2600)
The Atari 2600, released in 1977, is the first successful video game console to use plug-in cartridges instead of having one or more games built in. It was originally known as the Atari VCS, for Video Computer System, and the name "Atari 2600" (taken from the unit's Atari part number, CX2600) was first used in 1982, after the release of the more advanced Atari 5200.
The initial price was $199 with a library of 9 titles. In a play to compete directly with the Channel F, Atari named the machine the Video Computer System (or VCS for short), as the Channel F was at that point known as the VES, for Video Entertainment System. When Fairchild learned of Atari's naming they quickly changed the name of their system to become the Channel F.
Atari expanded the 2600 family with two other compatible consoles. The Atari 2700, a wireless version of the console was never released due to design flaws. The Sleek Atari 2800 released to the Japanese market in 1983 suffered from competition from the newly-released Nintendo Famicom.
COLECO TELSTAR COMBAT
The Coleco Telstar Combat! game was released in 1977 as a post-Pong dedicated video game console. Unlike Coleco's earlier home Pong clones based on the General Instrument AY-3-8500 chip, it used a AY-3-8700 chip. The console was a modest success but due to having too many similar dedicated console products, Coleco nearly went bankrupt in 1980.
Telstar Combat was one of Coleco's attempts to break away from the Pong-clone video game rut. It's certainly unique, and no other company manufactured a dedicated console with such elaborate controls. The console plays four variations of a tank battle game, very similar to the Atari 2600 Combat game cartridge.
COLECO TELSTAR ALPHA
Coleco cashed in on the Pong craze in a big way. They managed to grab a huge share of the early home video game market partly through good marketing (their original Telstar console was half the price of Atari's Pong) and partly through good luck (Coleco was the only company that got their full shipment of the popular microchip that everyone used to manufacture their home Pong systems in late 1976).
The Telstar Alpha (model 6030) was released in 1977. It is a classic from Coleco, and uses the AY-3-8500 game chip. The system plays 4 games in three difficulty levels. It is the successor of the three older models (Telstar, Telstar Classic and Telstar Ranger), and only differs by its case and fourth game (JAI-ALAI, also known as SQUASH).
Like the first Telstar, this system was sold in large quantities as it was cheap. It was also released in Europe as the "Telstar Alpha Europa".
MAGNAVOX ODYSSEY 2000
While not the first electronic game, the earliest form of an electronic ping-pong game dates back as a game played on an oscilloscope, by William A. Higinbotham at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1958. His game was titled Tennis for Two.
In 1977, the Magnavox Odyssey line of PONG games represents the cutting edge of dedicated console technology. The Odyssey 2000, 3000 and 4000 were arguably the most advanced dedicated PONG console systems of the 1970's.
MAGNAVOX ODYSSEY 3000
The Magnavox Odyssey 3000 is another example of the Odyssey line for 1977. It is similar to the 2000 offering the same games in a newly styled, more modern case. The Odyssey 3000 also featured detachable controllers which allowed more freedom when playing. This was not a feature on the Odyssey 2000 model.
Magnavox lead the PONG craze with its Odyssey line of consoles. In three years, the technology had completely changed the PONG universe.
MAGNAVOX ODYSSEY 4000
The Odyssey 4000 was the last PONG system released by Magnavox. The Odyssey 4000 featured 8 exciting games in full color. The console also featured real joysticks like those offered on other console models.
After the Odyssey 4000, Magnavox goes on to release a completely different system known as the Odyssey 2, also known as Videopac in Europe. This system was designed to compete with Atari and Colecovision cartridge based game consoles.
COLECO TELSTAR COLORTRON
The Telstar Colortron was released in 1978. It is one of the only systems based around the AY-3-8510 game chip, a derivation of the AY-3-8500. The system offers 4 games instead of 6, but the picture is in color, which is much better. Sound is not unpleasant like on most of the other systems, since it comes from a little piezo beeper which produces a very discrete sound.
The game selection is done using a push-button rather than a switch (easier to use and more robust). Curiously, the system requires two 9V batteries: one for the "video" (the games), and one for the "sound" (maybe the internal circuitry of the piezo beeper).
COLECO TELSTAR ARCADE
The Telstar Arcade is maybe one of the most interesting systems made by Coleco, and also the most advanced PONG system released in America, although it played non-PONG games. Made in a triangular case, the system could play three types of games, each being played on one of the three sides of the case. Obviously, the first side allowed playing PONG games (TENNIS and the like), and the second side allowed playing target shooting games - Nothing very different from most other systems, except the gun storage. The third face was the most interesting: it allowed playing car racing games. Very few systems offering that type of games were released at this time, and the games were only played using rotary controllers or some sort of joysticks.
Coleco used a very uncommon cartridge format: a silver triangular case which connects horizontally on the top of the console. Nothing in common with the other black cartridges with plug vertically. Coleco released only four cartridges. The first one was sold with the system and the others were available separately for the price of $25. Two flyers came with the system to order cartridges #2 and #3.
BALLY PROFESSIONAL ARCADE
Released in 1978, the Bally Professional Arcade was video game maker Bally's only entry in to the home console market, complete with typical late 1970's wood grain. The little console from the 70's that just wouldn't die, it enjoyed several rebirths similar to the Fairchild VES Channel F and significant home brew/user following.
In 1972, Bally missed an early entry in to video games, by telling one Mr. Nolan Bushnell they were not interested in his Pong video game. With Pong starting the video game arcade revolution, by 1975 Bally decided to create a video game division called Midway (referred to as Bally/Midway) for the purpose of entering this market.
It was decided to base the new console around the Zilog Z-80 microprocessor. A processor making it's way in to arcade games and fast becoming the processor of choice in the still developing microcomputer movement. The graphics system was to have an advanced display system known as bit mapped graphics. In bit mapped graphics, each pixel of the screen is mapped to a corresponding memory location.
In 1978 Magnavox came out with their second major system, the Odyssey², which was totally different than the various Odyssey PONG systems. It was a computer with BASIC programming, but many people regarded it as a home video game console. It came with two controllers, RF switch with TV box, power supply, and the Speedway, Spinout and Cryptologic game cartridge.
The Odyssey² was the first home video game console to introduce what was to become the standard joystick design of the 1970s and 80s: a moderately sized black joystick unit, held in the left hand, with an eight-direction stick that was manipulated with the right hand. In the upper corner of the joystick was a single 'Action' button.
The area that the Odyssey² may well be best remembered for was its pioneering fusion of board and video games: The Master Strategy Series. The first game released was the instant classic Quest for the Rings!, with game play somewhat similar to Dungeons & Dragons, and a story line reminiscent of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
COLECO TELSTAR GEMINI
1978 saw the release of the Coleco Telstar Gemini, which was totally different from any other Telstar pong system preceding it. Looking like a common pong, it doesn't play the common pong games. This unique system offered 2 shooting games along with 4 pinball games.
This console featured 2 flipper buttons on either side which simulated playing a real pinball machine. There is also a big red button on top which was used to launch the ball in to the play field. The button simulated the real thing, a short tap will shoot the ball out slowly and a long press will shoot the ball out faster.
There were actually two completely different Coleco Gemini systems. The Telstar Gemini shown here is the older and rarer machine. The other is an Atari 2600 clone by Coleco called Gemini. Coleco probably did this to hide it from Atari's lawyer armada. This worked for a while, but soon after the launch of the console Atari unsuccessfully sued Coleco for braking copyright laws.
ZIRCON CHANNEL F SYSTEM II
In 1979, a company by the name of Zircon bought all the rights to the Channel F. What they had planned to do with them was not clear until when they released Fairchild's scaled-down model as the $99 Channel F System II. Zircon also licensed it overseas, where it appeared as the Saba Video Play in Germany, the Luxor Video Entertainment System in Sweden, and the Grandstand in Great Britain. The System II model played sounds through the TV set, rather than generating them through an internal speaker (that's right: sounds in the System I model came from the unit itself). Channel F System II also had removable controllers.
By 1978, Fairchild had released 23 games the Channel F, with Zircon chipping in four new titles a couple years later. The games run from single to multi game cartridges, and various options for the games are selected by the 4 main buttons on the front of the console. Probably the weirdest feature of the machine is that the games are started by first turning on the console, then inserting the cartridge, and hitting the reset button.
The Atari 400 was announced in December 1978, but didn't actually start shipping until late in 1979. Designed primarily as a computer for children, the Atari 400 has an "advanced child-proof design featuring pressure-sensitive, wipe-clean keyboard". It featured a single cartridge port under the front cover.
The Atari 400 boots-up into "Notepad", the only built-in program. Any other programs will have to run from cassette or cartridge - this includes BASIC, or any other programming language. Game cartridges can be inserted into the cartridge slot in front, starting instantly with no fuss. Many games were clones of actual video arcade hits, others were original or copies of other popular (or not) computer games of the 80's.
After successful test marketing in 1979, Mattel Electronics released its Intellivision system nationwide in late 1980. Armed with twelve games, better graphics and sound than its competitors, and the promise to release a compatible keyboard that would turn the system into a home computer ("Play games and balance your checkbook!"), Mattel set its sights on taking down the "invincible" Atari 2600. They got off to a good start, selling out the first production run of 200,000 Intellivision units quickly.
Many people bought an Intellivision with plans to turn it into a home computer when the keyboard was released. There was a huge marketing campaign behind this (one-third of the back of the Intellivision box was dedicated to the "Under Development" keyboard), but months and then years passed without the keyboard being released. Actually, it was released in a few test markets in late '81, but the price was too high and the initial reaction poor. So in 1982, Mattel scrapped plans for the infamous keyboard, but later (due to government pressure), they had to make a computer add-on anyway.
The Vectrex is an 8-bit video game console developed by General Consumer Electric (GCE) and later bought by Milton Bradley Company. The Vectrex is unique in that it utilized vector graphics drawn on a monitor that was integrated in the console; no other console before or after the Vectrex had a comparable configuration, and no other non-portable game console had a monitor of its own (integrated). It was released in November 1982 at a retail price of $199. As the video game market declined and then crashed, the Vectrex exited the market in early 1984.
Unlike other video game consoles which connected to TVs to display raster graphics, the Vectrex included its own monitor which displayed vector graphics. The monochrome Vectrex used overlays to give the illusion of color, and also to reduce the severity of flickering caused by the vector monitor. At the time many of the most popular arcade games used vector displays, and GCE was looking to set themselves apart from the pack by selling high-quality versions of games like Space Wars and Armor Attack. The system even contained a built in game, the Asteroids-like Minestorm.
The Atari 5200 is a video game console introduced in 1982 by Atari. It was created to compete with the Mattel Intellivision, but it also competed with the Colecovision shortly after the 5200's release. In some ways, it was both technologically superior and more cost efficient than any console available at that time.
The Atari 5200 was in essence an Atari 400 computer without a keyboard. This made for a powerful, proven design which Atari could quickly bring to market. The system featured many innovations like the first automatic TV switch box, allowing it to automatically switch from regular TV viewing to the game system signal when the system was activated.
The initial release of the system featured four controller ports, where all other systems of the day had only two ports. The system also featured a revolutionary new controller with an analog joystick, numeric keypad, two fire buttons on both sides of the controller and game function keys for Start, Pause, and Reset.
EMERSON ARCADIA 2001
In 1982, the computer electronics company, Emerson, jumped into the gaming world. They released the Arcadia 2001, a small cartridge-based system.The Arcadia 2001 controllers are similar in design to the Intellivison or Colecovision, with a numeric keypad, a joystick, and two side buttons.
Emerson Arcadia 2001 was supposed to be the Atari 2600 killer - A great console with great games. Unfortunately they fell pray to complete lack of third party development, and the lack of Arcade game titles. Similar to other consoles before it, they were forced to release arcade clones.
The system didn't grasp much attention, and soon found its way to the bargain bin at the cost of $99. The release of the Colecovision months later sealed the Arcadia's fate. The Emerson Arcadia 2001 died after only a year and a half with 35 game releases. Most never recall it existed.
The Colecovision is Coleco's third generation video game console, released in August 1982. It offered arcade-like graphics and controllers, and an initial catalog of 12 titles, with 10 more promised titles on the way. All told, approximately 170 titles were released on plug-in cartridges during its lifetime. The controller was a flat joystick, two side buttons, and a number-pad, which allowed the user to put inserts for customized buttons. The majority of titles in its catalog were conversions from coin-operated arcade games. The ColecoVision introduced two new concepts to the home video game industry - the ability to expand the hardware system, and the ability to play other video game system games.
By Christmas of 1982, Coleco had sold 500,000 units, mainly on the strength of its bundled games. While Atari's fortune had risen on the popularity of Space Invaders, Colecovision was the first console to feature the hit Donkey Kong, by Nintendo. The Colecovision's main competitor in the next-generation console space was the arguably more advanced but less commercially successful Atari 5200.
From its introduction, Coleco had touted a hardware add-on called the Expansion Module #1 which made the ColecoVision compatible with the industry-leading Atari 2600. Functionally, this gave the ColecoVision the largest software library of any console of its day. The expansion module prompted legal action from Atari, but Atari was unable to stop sales of the module because the 2600 could be reproduced with standard parts. Coleco was also able to design and market the Gemini game system which was an exact clone of the 2600, but with combined joystick/paddle controllers.
Expansion Module #2 is a driving controller expansion that consists of a steering wheel, gas pedal and the pack-in game Turbo. The driving controller is also compatible with the games Destructor and Dukes Of Hazzard.
Expansion Module #3, the final hardware expansion module, was released in the summer of 1983. Module #3 converts the ColecoVision into a full-fledged computer known as the Coleco Adam, complete with keyboard and digital data pack (DDP) cassette drives. Module #3 was originally conceived to be the ColecoVision Super Game Module using game wafers as the storage medium. Although Coleco presented a mock-up of the SGM at the 1983 New York Toy Show, that product was never manufactured. There were also rumors that Expansion Module #3 was to have incorporated an RCA CED player to store larger amounts of data.
In 1982, Coleco released Expansion Module #1 for its Colecovision video game system using off-the-shelf components. Atari sued Coleco for patent infringement, however a court ruled that since Coleco used off-the-shelf components and not the same components found inside an Atari 2600, the Expansion Module #1 did not infringe on Atari's patents for the 2600. With this ruling, Coleco decided to make a stand-alone Atari 2600 clone and named it the Gemini.
The main difference between the Coleco Gemini and the Atari 2600 is the controller design. The Coleco Gemini controllers featured an 8-way joystick and a 270-degree paddle on the same controller (the joystick was at the top of the controller, and the paddle was at the bottom of the controller). Unfortunately, if one wanted to play the Atari 2600 game Warlords in 4 player mode, 2 sets of Atari-made paddles were required, and one set of Atari-made paddles was required for 2 player paddle games.
MATTEL INTELLIVISION II
Shortly after the Intellivision I released nationwide in the United States, Mattel followed up with the new updated Intellivision II unit in 1982. The product retailed for $99.99 USD and showed a few marked improvements. In order to cut costs Mattel featured 16 position removable joysticks on their 'new' system. A LED light was implemented to show owners when the system was on or off, since this was a difficulty with the Intellivision I unit. The power button functioned also as a reset switch and must be held for 5 seconds before the power will shut off, otherwise just pressing it will reset the system.
If the game was not in play the screen would go dark after five minutes in order to prevent burn in. To further reduce burn in, the Intellivision II Owner's Manual states that you should play the system using low contrast levels on your TV anyhow. To set the game on pause, you must simultaneously press 1 + 9 on the control pad. The system caused problems when running certain Coleco brand games such as Donkey Kong, Mouse Trap, and Carnival.
NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM (AKA NES)
Following a series of arcade game successes in the early 1980s, Nintendo made plans to produce its own console hardware that had removable cartridges, a feature not included with the company's earlier Color TV Games product. Designed by Masayuki Uemura and released in Japan on July 15, 1983, the Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom) was slow to gather momentum: during its first year, many criticized the system as unreliable, prone to programming errors and rampant freezing. Following a product recall and a reissue with a new motherboard, the Famicom's popularity soared, becoming the best-selling game console in Japan by the end of 1984. Encouraged by their successes, Nintendo soon turned their attentions to the North American markets.
In June 1985, Nintendo unveiled its American version of the Famicom at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). With a completely redesigned case and a new name, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) proved to be just as popular in America as the Famicom was in Japan, and played a major role in revitalizing interest in the video game industry.
The second bundle, the Deluxe Set, retailed for US$249.99 (equivalent to US$501 today), and consisted of the console, a R.O.B. accessory, an NES Zapper (electronic gun), and two game packs: Duck Hunt and Gyromite.
Subsequent bundle packages included the NES Action Set, released in November 1988 for US$149.99 (equivalent to US$273 today),which replaced both of the earlier two sets, and included the console, the NES Zapper, two game controllers, and a multicart version of Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. The Action Set became the most successful of the packages released by Nintendo.
One month later, in December 1988, to coincide with the release of the Power Pad floor mat controller, Nintendo released a new Power Set bundle, consisting of the console, the Power Pad, the NES Zapper, two controllers, and a multicart containing Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, and World Class Track Meet.
A Super Set bundle was released, including the console, an NES Satellite infrared wireless multitap adapter, four game controllers, and a multicart featuring Super Spike V'Ball and Nintendo World Cup.
A repackaged version of the control deck, it included two controllers and no game.
Taking saftey measures, Nintendo re-released the infamous Zapper Gun, this time changing it to a bright orange color. This was an attempt at keeping kids safe who wanted to play with their Zapper in other ways than with their Nintendo.
Similar to the Action Set above, the main intent was to replace the Zapper.
In 1990, a Sports Set bundle was released, including the console, an NES Satellite infrared wireless multitap adapter, four game controllers, and a multicart featuring Super Spike V'Ball and Nintendo World Cup.
The Challenge Set included the console, two controllers, and a Super Mario Bros. 3 game pak.
ATARI 2600 JUNIOR
In 1986 the Atari 2600 was re-released as the 2600 Junior. They retailed for $49.99 and came with a controller, RF switch and power cord but were absent of a pack in cartridge. They were made to match the 5200 and 7800 of the same time and some of the Juniors actually sported a JR stamp on them.
The switches are the same as the CX 2600 A except that they are now sliding buttons rather than switches. The switches on the top of the unit were On/Off, Black and White/Color, Game Select, and Rest. Game Difficulty could be switched on the back. The system was much smaller and could conserve space much better than its predecessor. The RF lead was not attached to this system.
Competition in the video game industry was at an all time high, the Atari 2600 Junior would be a simple low cost Atari 2600 packaged into a small "lunch-box" carton with appeal to younger gamers.
The Atari 7800 was Atari's chance at redemption in the video game market. Atari Inc. spent a good part of 1983 interviewing thousands of people on what they wanted and didn't want in a video game console. Atari Inc. through Warner Communications, then worked with General Computer Corporation who earlier had lost a lawsuit with Atari regarding a "Speed-up" board for Atari's Missile Command.
The all new graphics chip called MARIA (Also the code name of the 7800 Project) with almost 100 independent sprites, better color palette on screen, and other powerful features would not only allow game designers the ability to code new and exciting games, but the chip also allowed an original Atari TIA processor to co-exist side by side with MARIA so that the new console could also play all of the original Atari 2600 games as well.
The Atari 7800 was designed to be flexible and expandable and even had an expansion port for future peripherals to tap into the system bus and video circuitry.
SEGA MASTER SYSTEM
After producing many games for early home video game consoles, Sega decided to develop a console system of its own. The SG-1000 and Mark III were available in Japan in the mid-1980s, but when Sega witnessed the early success of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the company knew it wanted a share of the American console market. So, Sega redesigned the Mark III, renamed it the Sega Master System (SMS for short), and released it in 1986, not long after the NES first came out.
Technically, the Master System was superior to the NES, with better graphics and higher quality sound. The original SMS could play both cartridges and the credit card-sized "Sega Cards," which retailed for cheaper prices than carts but had less code. The SMS also had cooler accessories (like 3D glasses), but this didn't do much good when there weren't very many exciting games.
The Master System technology lived on in Sega's Game Gear, which was basically a portable SMS with some enhancements.
NEC TURBO GRAFX 16
In Japan, shortly after the introduction of Nintendo's Famicom (Japan's version of the NES), the electronics giant NEC entered into the video game market with the introduction of their "next generation" system, known as the PC Engine (PCE). The PCE boasted a 16-bit graphics chip capable of displaying up to 256 colors on screen at once, at a number of resolutions. Although its CPU wasn't much more powerful that of the NES, its spectacular graphics chip and six-channel sound bettered the Famicom in every way. It utilized a sleek new card format (PCE games are either HuCards or Turbochips) to hold its software, rather than bulky cartridges. It was also the first console to boast a CD-ROM drive, for full orchestral soundtracks and even (gasp!) full motion video. The PC Engine was immensely popular in Japan, outselling the Famicom by a significant margin.
In 1989, two years after its Japanese introduction, NEC announced plans to bring the PC Engine overseas, to the booming video game market of the U.S. With a huge library of Japanese software, it seemed to many as though the system couldn't possibly fail.
The add on CD-ROM would allow your Turbo Grafx 16 console to play all the CD games.
It was 1989. Nintendo's NES had reigned supreme in the video game market for nearly five years, and it was time for a new system to take over the throne. Sega's Master System, while graphically superior to the NES, failed to make any kind of lasting impression in the U.S. market (although it was very popular in Europe), and Sega knew that their next system would not only have to be superior to everything else out there, but they'd have to have a lot of third-party developers lined up.
After two years of development, Sega introduced their "next generation" system to the world in late 1989. Known as the Genesis in the West, and the Mega Drive in the east, Sega began an aggressive marketing campaign, not only to customers, but also to developers.
Although NEC's TurboGrafx-16 had beat the Genesis to market by nearly four months, Sega quickly regained lost ground, thanks to their line-up of quality arcade conversions, killer sports games, and most of all, the full support of Trip Hawkins and Electronic Arts.
SEGA MASTER SYSTEM II
In 1990, Sega was having success with its Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis and as a result took back the rights from Tonka for the SMS. They designed the Sega Master System II, a newer console which was smaller and sleeker but which, to keep production costs low, lacked the reset button and card slot of the original. Sega did everything in its power to market the system, but nothing came out of it.
By 1992, the Master System's sales were virtually nonexistent in North America and production ceased. Sales were poor in Japan as well, due to the dominance of the main competitor from Nintendo, the Nintendo Family Computer.
The Sega Master System is still being produced in Brazil. The latest version is the "Master System III Collection". It uses the same design as the North American Master System II (Master System III in Brazil), but is white and comes in two versions: one with 74 games built-in and another with 105 games built-in on an internal ROM. But in Brazil it's hard to find the 3D Goggles, the Light Phaser Pistol and even the cartridge, leaving Brazilians only with the built-in games.
SNK NEO-GEO AES
Shin Nihon Kikaku (SNK) first ventured into the arcade market in 1989 and was successful with its unique 2D arcade machine, which was powered by an impressive custom graphics processor, 68000 and Z80 CPUs and offered 330Mbit ROM storage space. This arcade version was known as MVS, or Multi-Video Output and allowed 1 of 6 games to be loaded at any time. The Neo Geo AES (Advanced Entertainment System) was a home version of the Neo Geo MVS and played the exact same games as the ones in the arcades. In fact, even memory cards could be switched between the two, allowing players to save their progress on one machine and load it on the other.
The major weakness of the Neo Geo AES was the high price tag on the cartridges. Most games sold for about $200! The console itself was also fairly expensive, retailing at $650. Its arcade-style joystick and excellent arcade ports made it a very attractive console. A Multi-Link cable was released for the Neo Geo AES that allowed two Neo Geos to be connected together and be played on two separate televisions.
SUPER NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System was Nintendo's second home console, following the Nintendo Entertainment System (often abbreviated to NES, released as the Famicom in Japan). - Whereas the earlier system had struggled in Europe and large parts of Asia the SNES proved to be a global success, albeit one that could not match its predecessor's popularity in South East Asia and North America - due in part to increased competition from Sega's Mega Drive console (released in North America as the Genesis). Despite its relatively late start, the SNES became the best selling console of the 16-bit era but only after its competitor Sega had pulled out of the 16-bit market to focus on its 32-bit next generation console.
Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System which initially sold for a price of $200. The North American package included the game Super Mario World. The SNES was released in the United Kingdom and Ireland in April 1992 for £150, with a German release following a few weeks later. The PAL versions of the console looked identical to the Japanese Super Famicom, except for labeling.
In 1992 TTi (Turbo Technologies Inc.) released the TurboDuo, the North American version of the Japanese Duo. The system combined the TurboGrafx-16 and an enhanced version of the CD-ROM drive (the "Super CD-ROM²") into a single unit. The system could play audio CDs, CD+Gs, CD-ROM2 and Super CD games as well as standard HuCards. The Super System Card required for some games when using the original CD add-on as well as some of the Japanese variants of the TurboGrafx was built in to the Duo rather than requiring the card to be inserted at all times when playing CD games. The original pack-in for the Turbo Duo included the system, one control pad, an AC adapter, RCA cables, Ys book I & II a CD-ROM2 title, a Super CD disc including Bonk's Adventure, Bonk's Revenge, Gates of Thunder and a secret version of Bomberman accessible via an easter egg. The system was also packaged with one random HuCard game which varied from system to system (note: Actually, Dungeon Explorer was the original HuCard pack-in for TurboDuo, although many titles were eventually used, such as IREM's Ninja Spirit and NAMCO's Final Lap Twin and then eventually a random pick).
SEGA CD FOR GENESIS
The Sega CD had been announced at the Chicago CES on November 1992. Early reports had suggested that hardware in the system would allow it to display more on screen colors (from a larger palette) than the Sega Genesis or the Super Nintendo, which was an important technical concern for consumers.
In the end, the Sega CD failed to convince North American gamers, mostly due to the cost of the console, and the lack of any hardware advancements. There just was not enough value for the price. Moreover, the game experience was little improved.
The single speed CD drive added load times to all games, and the 64-color graphics and underpowered processor (for video rendering) made full-motion games look terrible. One particularly infamous example of this came in the form of the Mortal Kombat CD, which was widely criticized due to certain moves, particularly the games popular "fatalities", that would not perform until after a notable lag between the execution of the move and its actual on screen animation.
PANASONIC 3DO INTERACTIVE
The 3DO was a concept. "Create the blueprints for a next-generation, 32-bit, do-it-all, set-top system that is fully upgradeable and license the actual hardware manufacturing to some of the world's largest electronics manufacturers." That's the 3DO. Trip Hawkins, founder of the 3DO company, joined forces with RJ Mical and Dave Needle to create the most innovative system of the '90s. The 3DO was originally designed to be the next step in home entertainment: Audi-o, vide-o, 3D-O. The creators hoped it would become as common as the VCR and as fun and entertaining as a TV, VCR, CD player, video game system and computer combined. The idea was sound. Unfortunately, the execution of the idea was not.
Many companies obtained licenses to produce 3DO systems, including Goldstar, Sanyo, Samsung, AT&T, Creative Labs and the world's largest electronics company, Matsushita/Panasonic. With the idea that the 3DO was to become a multi functional part of everyone's home entertainment centers, the unit was released in 1993 with an MSRP of $700.
Competing with Sega and Nintendo's 16-bit consoles, the Jaguar was said to be 64-bit. Back then, bit width was a big deal in the gaming industry, just as polygon-pushing power is today. The Jaguar did not work off of a solitary 64-bit processor, but instead it had a collection of processors with bus widths ranging from 16 to 64 bits. The bit width of the Jaguar is still a source of considerable debate today, but consensus exists among those who are familiar with the system hardware that, because Jaguar's main data bus and some of the processors are 64-bit, the entire system can be considered 64 bit. It would otherwise be considered a 32-bit console.
Nonetheless, it was technically superior to the leading 16-bit consoles at the time. Unfortunately, this last ditch effort by Atari to find room in the console market failed. A relatively small number of games were developed for the system, but Atari pulled the plug altogether in 1996.
NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM MODEL 2
In 1993, Nintendo released a top loading NES model 2. This newer model was scaled down to nearly half the size of the original. The case was a sleeker design (Like a smoother Famicom). The cartridge port was more stable, and used eject & power buttons similar to its successor the SuperNES. Even the controller had the "bone-like" shape of the SuperNES. This new model sold for $45. The cheaper price came at the loss of the original model's interface and A/V output ports. Nintendo dropped support for this new model a year later. Today, it's a collector’s item.
Nintendo's success introduced some of the most interesting accessories and conversions. Who could forget the "Power Glove", and "Rob the Robot". Nintendo slapped "NES-like" hardware into an Arcade cabinet and released Nintendo Playchoice to arcades everywhere. In Japan they released a disk drive accessory that allowed gamers to download games from vending machines onto a disk.
SEGA GENESIS 2
The Sega Genesis 2 Unit was released in 1994 and was nearly the same as the Sega Genesis released in 1989. The new unit was absent of a headphone jack and volume control and used a non standard RF switch and AC adapter. The pack ins were an AC adapter, RF switch, controller, and the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 game.
The failures of the Sega CD and 32X, a lack of effective advertising, and disputes between Sega of America and Sega of Japan had taken their toll on the company. By 1994, Sega's market share had dropped from 65% to 35%, and the official announcements of newer, more powerful consoles, such as the Saturn, Playstation, and N64 signaled that the 16-bit era was drawing to a close. Interest in the Genesis suffered greatly as a result, compounding its already falling sales. In 1996, less than a year after the debut of their Saturn console, Sega quickly brought their participation in the 16-bit era to an end by discontinuing production of the Genesis and its associated accessories.
SEGA CD FOR THE GENESIS 2
The Sega Mega-CD is an add-on device for the Sega Mega Drive released in Europe, Australia, and Japan. The North American version is called the Sega CD. The device allows the user to both play CD audio discs and specially designed game CDs. It can also play CD+G discs.
The development of the Sega CD was top secret; game programmers didn't know what they were designing for until the Mega-CD was finally revealed at Tokyo Toy Show in Japan. The Sega Mega-CD in Japan was designed to compete with the PC Engine, which had a separate CD-ROM drive.
In the United States, the Sega CD was considered a failure due to its high price, low sales and general confusion with the Sega 32X, another Genesis peripheral offered. Due to Sega of America's lack of support for the Sega CD and 32X, many consumers lost their trust in Sega and it can be said that Sega never recovered from this, as the Saturn sold poorly and the Dreamcast, although considered a good effort on Sega's behalf, was unable to compete effectively with the PS2.
SEGA GENESIS 32X
The 32X hit the market in North America in November 1994, during the same month the Sega Saturn was released in Japan. Many industry insiders speculated that the 32X was doomed from the beginning as the Sega Saturn hardware was widely regarded as more powerful than the 32X and had the support of many Japanese third party software developers.
The Sega 32X can only be used in conjunction with a Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis system; it is plugged in where the cartridge bay is. Besides playing its own cartridges, it also acted as a pass through for Genesis games so it would be a permanent attachment. The 32X came with 10 coupons and several spacers, so it would work with all versions of the Genesis.
Since this was an expensive add-on system, Sega decided to bundle in some rebate vouchers, which were difficult to take advantage of. Orders exceeded one million, but not enough were produced, and supply shortage problems arose.
SNK NEO-GEO CD
The Neo Geo CD is essentially the same hardware as the AES but with a CD drive instead of the cartridge slot. CD's are a lot cheaper to produce than cartridges and SNK passed this saving on to gamers with the Neo Geo CD.
Unfortunately, the CD drive is single speed and it takes a long time for games to load compared to cart based games that load instantly. The loading isn't too bad on level based games such as Metal Slug, but it can be really infuriating on fighting games when it needs to load every couple of minutes.
SEGA GENESIS CDX
The Multi-Mega or CDX was a 16-bit video game console released in 1994 for $399 USD, combining the Sega Mega Drive (Sega Genesis in North America) and one of its add-ons, the Sega Mega-CD (Sega CD in North America), into a single compact unit as a final attempt by Sega to encourage consumer interest in its unpopular Mega-CD format. It was released under the name Multi-Mega in Europe, Genesis CDX in North America and Multi-Mega CDX in Brazil.
Overpriced and underselling due to lack of high quality Mega-CD games, and the anticipation of the Mega Drive's successor, the Sega Saturn, it was never well-supported by Sega, and died a quiet death. Its counterpart, the combined Mega Drive/32X console, the Sega Neptune, never went beyond the prototype stage.
ATARI JAGUAR CD
Late in it's life span, Atari released this long-promised CD-ROM unit. The device sat atop the Jaguar console, plugging into the cartridge slot, the physical design of the system sometimes compared to a toilet. The drive had its own cartridge slot to allow cartridge games to be played without removing the CD drive. There was a separate "Memory Track" cartridge for storing saved game position and high scores.
The Jaguar CD unit featured a double speed (2X) drive and built-in VLM (Virtual Light Machine) software. The VLM, which provided a sophisticated video light show when an audio CD was played in the machine, was as popular among buyers as the games themselves. Packaged with the drive were two games (Blue Lightning and Vid Grid), a music CD (Tempest 2000 soundtrack), and a Myst demo disc.
The drive was manufactured for Atari by Phillips in the United States. The initial shipment was 20,000 units. With the JT Storage reverse takeover looming just a few months away, it is possible that those 20,000 drives were the only units ever produced.
Nintendo asked Sony to develop a CD-ROM add-on called "PlayStation" for the SNES. Because Sony wanted 25% of all profits Nintendo earned from sales of this PlayStation and all PlayStation games, after Sony revealed that they were developing it, Nintendo instead went to Philips. This caused Sony to consider abandoning their research, however instead they used what they had developed so far and made it into a full blown console. This led to Nintendo filing a lawsuit claiming breach of contract and attempted, in U.S. federal court, to obtain an injunction against the release of the PlayStation, on the grounds that Nintendo owned the name. The federal judge presiding over the case denied the injunction.
The PlayStation was launched in Japan on December 3, 1994, the USA on September 9, 1995 and Europe on September 29, 1995. In America, Sony enjoyed a very successful launch with titles of almost every genre including Toshinden, Twisted Metal, Warhawk, and Ridge Racer. Almost all of Sony's and Namco's launch titles went on to produce numerous sequels.
PANASONIC 3DO FZ-10
The 3DO sported some very innovative features. The fact that it is a CD-based system gave developers nearly limitless space to store their games and programs, something cartridge-based systems lack. There was only one controller port. However, this wasn't a problem since extra controllers (up to 8) could be easily daisy-chained as each controller has its own controller port. The original Panasonic controllers have a built-in stereo headphone jack along with a volume control dial. The system has its own internal memory to save games and other information. It has 2 expansion ports which were to be used for future upgrades such as memory cards, modems, digital video cartridges and the M2 system upgrade.
There were many accessories for the 3DO, some of them standard (like game pads, wireless controllers and a light gun). Then there were more unique items like the mouse, steering wheel, flight stick and the Super Nintendo controller adapters which allowed the cheaper Super NES controllers to be used on the 3DO. However, there were even more impressive items available that truly allowed the 3DO to stand alone.
Sega's Away Team worked for an entire two years exclusively to make certain that the Sega Saturn was launched with some of the world's best hardware and software. The 27-member Away Team comprises Sega employees from every aspect of hardware engineering, product development, and marketing. Their sole mission was to ensure that Sega Saturn's hardware and design met the precise needs of both the U.S. and Japanese markets.
In May 1995, Sega launched the Saturn in the USA, a full four months ahead of schedule. This was announced at that year's E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) where Sega representatives were engaged in a public relations battle with Sony. This surprise move resulted in very few sales, however. This was due largely to the $399 USD price of the system and the lack of available software at time of launch. Also, Sega chose to ship Saturn units only to four select retailers. This caused a great deal of animosity toward Sega from unselected companies, including Wal-Mart and KB Toys.
The Nintendo 64, commonly called the N64, is Nintendo's third home video game console. The N64 was released on June 23, 1996 in Japan, September 29, 1996 in North America, 1 March 1997 in Europe/Australia and September 1, 1997 in France. It was released with only two launch games in Japan and North America (Super Mario 64 and PilotWings 64) while Europe had a third launch title in the form of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (which was released earlier in the other markets). The Nintendo 64 cost $199 at launch in the United States.
During the developmental stages the N64 was referred to by its code name, Project Reality. The name Project Reality came from the speculation within Nintendo that this console could produce CGI on par with then-current super computers. Once unveiled to the public the name changed to Nintendo Ultra 64, referring to its 64-bit processor, and Nintendo dropped "Ultra" from the name on February 1, 1996, just five months before its Japanese debut.
SUPER NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM MODEL 2
By 1996, the 16-bit era of gaming had ended, and a new generation of consoles, including Nintendo's own Nintendo 64, caused the popularity of the SNES to wane. In October 1997, Nintendo released a redesigned SNES 2 in North America for $99 USD (which included the pack-in game Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island). Like the earlier NES 2, the new model was designed to be slimmer and lighter than its predecessor but lacked S-Video and RGB output, and would prove to be among the last major SNES-related releases in America.
Nintendo of America ceased production of the SNES in 1999. In Japan, the Super Famicom continued to be produced until September 2003 (also some new games were produced until the year 2000). In recent years, many SNES titles have been ported to the hand held Game Boy Advance, which has similar video capabilities. Some video game critics consider the SNES era "the golden age of video games," citing the many ground breaking games and classics made for the system, whereas others question this romanticism. See video game player for more.
SEGA GENESIS 3
A company by the name of Majesco started to take over manufacturing of systems for Sega in 1998 with their release of the Genesis 3. The system retailed for $29.99 and came packaged with one controller, AV cables, and a power cord. The controller that was featured as a pack in was the new Sega six button controller. The system itself was very tiny, about the size of two controllers for the system. The system lacked the expansion port that the Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 had and thus could not utilized the function of the Sega CD 1 or 2. The Genesis 3 could not utilize the 32X either.
Besides redesigning the Sega Genesis, Majesco also re-released certain games for the system. They came in cardboard boxes with black and white instructions. Majesco had also done some re-releasing for the Sega Game Gear and the Super Nintendo. At the same time they were doing work with the Game Gear, they had plans to re-release the Sega Saturn, but as of yet, nothing has been done. The following games do not work (per Genesis 3 Instruction Manual): Virtua Racing. The Sega Channel Modem also does not work.
The Dreamcast was released on November 27, 1998 in Japan, on September 9, 1999 in the United States (the date 9/9/99 featured heavily in US promotion) and on October 14, 1999 in Europe. The tag line used to promote the console in the US was "It's thinking", and in Europe "Up to 6 Billion Players". (The vagueness of these campaigns and almost total lack of any in game footage has been touted as one of the reasons for the Dreamcast's eventual downfall. Many Americans knew that the Dreamcast was coming, but didn't know what one was.)
The Dreamcast was the first console to include a built-in modem and Internet support for on-line gaming. It enjoyed brisk sales in its first season and was one of Sega's most successful hardware units. In the United States alone, a record 200,000 units had been pre-ordered before launch and Sega sold 500,000 consoles in just two weeks (including 225,000 sold on the first 24 hours which became a video game record until the PlayStation 2 launched a year later). In fact, due to brisk sales and hardware shortages, Sega was unable to fulfill all of the advance orders.
SONY PLAYSTAYION PS1
The first new version was actually a revision in early 1996, produced in response to complaints that PlayStations were overheating. Sony did not change the technical aspects or the cosmetics, but did remove the S-video port left over from the Japanese release.
Sony produced a redesigned version of the original console, called the "PSone", in a smaller (and more ergonomic) case which was introduced in September 2000. The original PlayStation was abbreviated in Japan to "PS" and was often abbreviated as "PSX" by American gamers, as this was Sony's internal code name for the system while it was under development. This led to some confusion in 2003, when Sony introduced a PS2-derived system in Japan actually called the PSX. The PlayStation is now officially abbreviated as the "PS1" or "PSone," although many people still abbreviate it "PS" or "PSX". There were only 2 differences between the "PSone" and the original, the first one being cosmetic change to the console, and the second one was the home menu's Graphical User Interface.
SONY PLAYSTATION 2
The PlayStation 2 had a difficult start. Only a few million users had obtained consoles by the end of 2000 due to manufacturing delays. The PlayStation 2 was such a hot item after its release that it was near impossible to find one on retailer shelves, leaving those wanting a PlayStation 2 to either wait or purchase the console on-line at sites such as eBay, where the console was being sold by many people for twice and sometimes five times as much as the manufacturer's listed price.
The PlayStation brand's strength has lead to strong third-party support for the system. Although the launch titles for the PS2 were unimpressive in 2000, the holiday season of 2001 saw the release of several best-selling and critically acclaimed games. Those PS2 titles helped the PS2 maintain and extend its lead in the video game console market, despite increased competition from the launches of the Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube. In several cases, Sony made exclusivity deals with publishers in order to preempt its competitors.
NINTENDO GAME CUBE
Unveiled during Spaceworld 2000, the Nintendo GameCube was widely anticipated by many who were shocked by Nintendo's decision to design the Nintendo 64 as a cartridge-based system. Physically shaped similar to a geometric cube, the outside casing of the Nintendo GameCube comes in a variety of colors, such as indigo, platinum, and black (also a limited edition Resident Evil 4 platinum and black game console).
The Nintendo GameCube uses a unique storage medium, the GameCube Optical Disc, a proprietary format based on Matsushita's optical-disc technology; the discs are approximately 8 centimeters (3 1/8 inches) in diameter (considerably smaller than the 12cm CDs or DVDs used in competitors' consoles), and the discs have a capacity of approximately 1.5 gigabytes. The disc is also read from the outer-most edge going inward, the opposite of a standard DVD. This move was mainly intended to prevent piracy of GCN titles, but like most anti-piracy technology, it was eventually cracked.
MICROSOFT XBOX 360
The Microsoft Xbox is a sixth generation era video game console first released on November 15, 2001 in North America, then released on February 22, 2002 in Japan, and later on March 14, 2002 in Europe. The Xbox was Microsoft's first independent venture into the video game console arena, after having developed the operating system and development tools for the MSX, and having collaborated with Sega in porting Windows CE to the Sega Dreamcast console. Notable launch titles for the console include Amped, Dead or Alive 3, Halo: Combat Evolved, Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee, and Project Gotham Racing.
In November 2002 Microsoft released the Xbox Live on-line gaming service, allowing subscribers to play on-line Xbox games with (or against) other subscribers all around the world and download new content for their games to the hard drive. This on-line service works exclusively with broadband. 250,000 subscribers had signed on in 2 months since Live was launched. In July 2004, Microsoft announced that Xbox Live reached 1 million subscribers, and announced in July 2005 that Live had reached 2 million.
SONY PLAYSTATION 2 SLIM LINE
In September of 2004, in time for the launch of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (the best-selling game during the 2004 Holiday season), Sony revealed a new, smaller PS2. In preparation for the launch of a new, slimmer PlayStation 2 model (SCPH-70000), Sony had stopped making the older PS2 model (SCPH-5000x) sometime during the summer of 2004 to let the distribution channel empty out stock of the units. After an apparent manufacturing issue caused some initial slowdown in producing the new unit, Sony reportedly underestimated demand, caused in part by shortages between the time the old units were cleared out and the new units were ready. This led to further shortages, and the issue was compounded in Britain when a Russian oil tanker became stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking a ship from China carrying PS2s bound for the UK. During one week in November, sales in the entire country of Britain totaled 6,000 units — compared to 70,000 a few weeks prior. Shortages in North America were also extremely severe; one retail chain in the U.S., GameStop, had just 186 PS2 and Xbox units on hand across more than 1700 stores on the day before Christmas.
In January at the Consumer Electronics Show 2004 (CES), SSD COMPANY LIMITED debuts their XaviX® technology to the American public. The XaviXPort console was officially released in the US in August of 2004.
XaviXPort is a unique and innovative console that uses peripherals to interact with on screen games. The console contains image recognition and infrared sensors that can detect player movements. These movements are calculated by a proprietary multiprocessor that measures both velocity and angle. The multiprocessor then translates the actions into on screen movement.
Getting players to immerse themselves into games with body movements is not something new. However, this is the first time a console has been dedicated to providing this "Get your butt off the couch" interactive gaming experience. What makes XaviXPort even more unique is that the console’s multiprocessor is not installed inside the system itself. The multiprocessor can be found in each game cartridge.
MICROSOFT XBOX 360 CORE SYSTEM
The Xbox 360 is Microsoft's newest video game console, the successor to their original Xbox. It was released on November 22, 2005 in North America, December 2 in Europe, and December 10 in Japan. It will be released on February 2, 2006 in Mexico, February 24 in South Korea, and March 2, 2006 in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.
The Xbox 360 will compete against the upcoming generation of consoles, including the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Revolution, and was officially unveiled on MTV on May 12, 2005, a week before the E3 trade show.
Except in Japan the console is sold in two different configurations: the "Xbox 360" and the "Xbox 360 Core System". The Xbox 360 configuration, often referred to as the "Premium Edition", includes a hard drive (required for backwards compatibility with original Xbox games), a wireless controller, a headset, an Ethernet cable, an Xbox Live silver subscription, and a component HD AV cable (which can also be used on non-HD TVs).
The Xbox 360 (also known as Premium or Pro ) includes all the features of the Xbox 360 Arcade and includes a hybrid composite and component cable with optional optical out instead of a composite cable. The Xbox 360 also includes a detachable 60 GB Hard Disk Drive (previously a 20 GB HDD) to store downloaded content, provide compatibility with original Xbox games, and store game data. The included hard drive comes with game demos, video clips and a free Live Arcade game, Hexic HD. In July 2007, this version of the Xbox 360 began appearing with the Zephyr motherboard (the motherboard used in the Elite) which features HDMI 1.2 output and an improved GPU heatsink. Although this package does include an HDMI 1.2 output, it does not come with HDMI 1.2 cables. Starting at the end of September 2007, the newest systems were shipped with the new "Falcon" motherboard. This motherboard includes the new 65-nm CPUs, making them quieter and cooler than the older systems. On August 1, 2008, the 20 GB Xbox 360 was discontinued and was replaced by a 60 GB HDD model at the same price.
The Xbox 360 Arcade is the replacement for the "Xbox 360 Core". It was publicly revealed (though it was available in stores far earlier) by Microsoft's president of Entertainment Devices division Robbie Bach to the Financial Times on October 18, 2007,and officially announced on October 22, 2007. It includes a wireless controller, composite AV cable, HDMI 1.2 output, an internal 256 MB memory chip (units released prior to fall 2008 included a 256 MB memory unit), and 5 Xbox Live Arcade titles: Boom Boom Rocket, Feeding Frenzy, Luxor 2, Pac-Man Championship Edition, and Uno on a single disk, which also includes a "Welcome Video" and several game trailers/demos. Holiday 2008 consoles are bundled with Sega Superstars Tennis.
The Xbox 360 Elite is the fourth and most expensive variation of the console. It includes a 120 GB hard drive and a matte black finish. The Elite retail package also includes an HDMI 1.2 cable and a controller and headset that match the system's black finish. The initial release price was US$479.99, C$549.99, £299.99, and AU$729.95. The Elite was released in Europe on August 24, 2007, and Australia on August 30, 2007. Early Elite models shipped using the Zephyr motherboard, though newer models now use the Falcon 65nm chipset instead. These Elites (and other Xbox 360 models using the Falcon) can be identified from earlier versions by a re-designed power connector and a power supply that runs at 175w. The motherboard layout is also different. Holiday 2008 consoles are bundled with Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures and Kung Fu Panda.
SONY PLAYSTATION 3
The PlayStation 3 was released in North America on November 17, 2006. During its first week of release in the United States, PlayStation 3s were being sold on eBay for more than $2300 USD. Reports of violence surrounding the release of the PS3 include a customer shot, campers robbed at gunpoint, customers shot in a drive-by shooting with BB guns, and 60 campers fighting over 10 systems. Two GameStop employees fabricated a robbery to cover up their own theft of several PlayStation 3 and four Xbox 360 consoles.
Sony stated every PlayStation and PlayStation 2 game that observes its respective system's TRC (Technical Requirements Checklist) will be playable on PS3 at launch. SCE president Ken Kutaragi asked developers to adhere to the TRC to facilitate compatibility with future PlayStations, stating that the company was having some difficulty getting backward compatibility with games that had not followed the TRCs. It has been confirmed (image) that initial PS3 units include the CPU/rasterizer combination chip used in slim PS2 (EE+GS) to achieve backward compatibility.
The console was known by the codename of "Revolution" until April 27, 2006, when it was renamed Wii, spelled with two "i"s to imply an image of players gathering together, as well as to represent the console's controllers. It is said Wii sounds like 'we', which emphasizes that the console is for everyone. Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii"
The Wii Remote is a one-handed controller that uses a combination of accelerometers and infrared detection to sense its position in 3D space. This allows users to control the game using physical gestures as well as traditional button presses. The controller connects to the console using Bluetooth, and features force feedback, 4KB non-volatile memory and an internal speaker. Perhaps the most important of these devices is the Nunchuk unit, which features an accelerometer and a traditional analog stick with two trigger buttons. In addition, an attachable wrist strap can be used to prevent the player from unintentionally dropping or throwing the device.
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