Warp zone: The Playchoice 10

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Who remembers seeing this bad boy in their local arcade or game shop? It’s the Nintendo Playchoice 10, and it was the coolest way to try before you’d buy back in the day.

Some quick stats to start:

Released in 1986, this 2 player arcade cabinet or tabletop offered a few interesting things. Instead of pumping quarters in to play just one game, you had up to ten to choose from and you were buying playtime and could switch games at anytime. The only exception was the standalone cabinet that only played one title.

The arcade guts were not that of a regular Nintendo with cartridges, but a specially designed circuit board that had extra memory, cpu’s, and chips added to include the game timer and the ability to display tips for the games being played.

The games: up to ten games were available for play in each machine. These are the titles that it featured:

1942 (1986 Capcom)
Balloon Fight (1985Nintendo)
Baseball (1985 Nintendo)
Baseball Stars (1989 SNK)
Captain Skyhawk (1990 Milton Bradley)
Castlevania (1987 Konami)
Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers (1990Capcom)
Contra (1988 Konami)
Double Dragon (1988 Technos)
Double Dribble (1987 Konami)
Dr. Mario (1990 Nintendo), or its prototype version Virus in some machines
Duck Hunt (1985 Nintendo)
Excitebike (1985 Nintendo)
Fester’s Quest (1989 Sunsoft)
Gauntlet (1985 Atari)
Golf (1985 Nintendo)
Goonies, The (1986 Konami)
Gradius (1986 Konami)
Hogan’s Alley (1985 Nintendo)
Kung Fu (1985 Irem)
Mario Bros. (1984 Nintendo)
Mario’s Open Golf (1991 Nintendo)
Metroid (1986 Nintendo)
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (1987 Nintendo)
Ninja Gaiden (1989 Tecmo)
Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos
Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom
Pin*Bot (1990 Rare)
Power Blade (1991 Taito)
Pro Wrestling (1987 Nintendo)
Rad Racer (1987 Square)
Rad Racer II (1990 Square)
RBI Baseball (1987 Atari)
R.C. Pro-Am (1988 Rare)
Rygar (1987 Tecmo)
Shatterhand (1991 Jaleco)
Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship (1990 Rare)
Super C (1990 Konami)
Super Mario Bros. (1985 Nintendo)
Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988 Nintendo)
Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990 Nintendo)
Tecmo Bowl (1989 Tecmo Inc.)
Tecmo World Cup Soccer (1990 Tecmo)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989 Konami)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (1990 Konami)
Tennis (1985 Nintendo)
Track & Field (1987 Konami)
Trojan (1987 Capcom)
Volleyball (1987 Nintendo)
Wild Gunman (1985 Nintendo)
Yo! Noid (1990 Capcom)

There was a fairly wide variety of games to try, Super Mario Bros 3 was originally previewed using the Playchoice before getting a retail release. The Playchoice was a good way to get a look at a game before purchasing especially if there wasn’t a copy at your local video store or it was an yet unreleased title.

Sega eventually followed suit releasing their own arcade cabinets to try new master system/genesis games and NEO GEO/SNK released a cartridge based arcade system to allow players to try up to 4 different games.

These machines are sought out by many collectors and can fetch good prices in auctions. I know I’d love to have one on my game room.

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                           Yeah buddy.
#8bitliving

Boss battle: where do you draw the line on price?

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Ok, anyone who collects games knows there’s a price tag attached…but where do you draw the line?

Any NES collector knows there’s a ton of games for the system and most were horrible (see last post). There’s games that go for a lot due to rarity, etc but what about the less than desirable titles?

How much is a crappy title really worth? All depends on how the dealer looks at it. A common price on worthless titles is about $5 (CAD)…this is decent on titles that you might not play much but you can justify five bucks worth of fun from it. But there’s another section of games to consider…the stinkers…we all know them, board games, etc.

As a collector, I know I need to have anticipation, jeopardy, Othello, etc but am I ever going to see $5 worth of fun from it…let alone play it? So there’s some times where you need to grind it cheap.

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So...take a dollar for this one?

Take a buck for this one? I hear it’s no good.

Obviously ducktales 2 is a great example of a game thats fun enough to justify a high price tag, but we’re not here to talk about that. I find it comes down to playability vs cost and with some of the crappier games it’s just not there.

When it comes to the less favourable NES games, I personally will wait until i find them in the $1-2.99 range only because its not a game thats going to leave the shelf ever except to show someone what a piece of shit it is and because these games do turn up frequently…deals can be made or sometimes second hand stores just blow them out to get rid of them.

It goes back to the “everyone loves a deal” post I had a while ago, and in the case of these kind of games a deal is in order. Money better saved for the titles that will run you a few extra dollars but can give you much more playtime and enjoyment.

What it comes down to is how you decide to budget your money, how quick you want to collect, and whether you’re willing to go around hunting until you find what you want at a better price. There’s always a chance of finding great games at yard sales, swap meets, junk shops, etc but you have to commit the time and effort to tracking them down. It can be rewarding, but there’s a lot of people hunting and you will find yourself getting burned because you went to one sale before another and just got beat out. Nothing is more disappointing than finding out the seller just sold their nintendo and a box of games for $50 just five mins ago…but it’s all about luck out there.

Like I’ve said before though never underestimate the power of the bundle, sometimes if you’re already buying more you can shave down the cost some of the less desirable titles or picking them up through trades can be another way to round them up at little to no cost.

I’ll see you out in the wild…happy hunting!

#8bitliving

Level 5: Bad games (so many bad games)

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These are some solid games, but we’re not here to talk about those games…NO! we’re going to talk about the huge number of bad games available…despite our juvenile minds blocking out the bad memories, it happened.

For every gem like Mario 3 that had great controls, solid physics and intuitive gameplay and difficulty there were at least 50 pieces of crap that were puked out by developers. Everyone remembers going to the local video store, you look at the box art and screenshots….”hmm, this looks cool…the guy on the cover seems badass”. You decide to drop your hard earned allowance and take it home for the weekend.

You get set up for a solid night of gaming fun, you slide the game into the system, hit the power button and BOOM! There’s that cool intro screen just like the box…you pick up the controller and hit start….

“What the hell is this?!?!”

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                   ?????????????????????

It’s nothing like the box, and did I just die in the first few seconds? It’s unplayable, glitchy, full of cheap deaths, has taken “Nintendo hard” to a ridiculous level and you stare at the screen realizing you just got hosed for your rental money.

This happened to me more times than I care to recount as a kid, back in the days before the internet, the only reviews you could get were from other kids who had played the game. Sometimes you were the lucky guinea pig who got to step on the landmine first, hopefully it was only a rental and not a retail purchase or else you learned a harsh lesson at the cost of $99.99 (that’s right kids…now $60 for a new game isn’t so bad huh?).

Why were there so many bad games? Didn’t Nintendo have a seal of quality emblazoned on all these carts? Well there were a few factors: first that seal wasn’t so hard to get and second, with the new booming interest in video games again a lot of developers were tossing things at the wall to see what would stick. Some developers who are now triple A game production studios started out cranking out titles for the NES, and having that learning period helped them grow by being able to test new things out, fail, and try again.

But….

Some are just trash churned out to try to capitalize on the popularity of this new system…and it shows…rushed material, copying or re-skinning other games (how many generic space shooters does one system need?). One cartridge that has risen to infamy due to it’s complete unplayability is of course Action 52, 52 of the crappiest games known to mankind all jammed into one cart for the low retail price at the time of only 199.99! Of course these days that infamy has put a high price tag on it. Fortunately most of the “best” worst games will only set you back about five bucks.

As a collector, I look at the games piled on my shelf and as I look over them for something to play I’m thinking “naw, thats shit…”. I do have a lot of fun games: the aforementioned Mario 3, Metroid, Tyson’s punchout, Lolo 3,  River city ransom, etc but I have a large chunk of awful games I’ve collected because their part of the system.

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Master LJN has taught you well Daniel-san

Nostalgia has blinded us, protected us even from the memories of these bad games, but they exist and if you’re a collector you’re going to find them in your collection. Still fun for pulling out once and a while when you’re in a masochistic mood…but hey at least the box art was cool right?

Because we all need a smile:

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                           Lest we forget.

Also tomorrow is remembrance day so thank a veteran for the freedom we have to be #8bitliving

Cheers!

3up! Now you’re playing with POWER!!

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It was always a great day when the newest copy of Nintendo Power showed up in the mailbox.

I remember seeing this cover for the first issue and the first thing I picked up on was the odd color of Mario’s coveralls, were they changing the red and green for the brothers Mario for Mario Bros 2?

No time for that though…I had to proceed to read the issue cover to cover. Before Nintendo power all you had to judge a game by was the few screenshots on a box or a friends recommendation.
                

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         It’s by LJN, what could go wrong?

Now you had full reviews (biased as they might be: it was a Nintendo sponsored publication after all), screenshots and sneak peaks at new games before they came out, tips, tricks, and walkthroughs for hard missions that before required believing someone who had beat the level before. Yeah, I’m sure nobody would lie about that just to look cool.

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I swear I took Tyson down the first round!

Another great feature was the ability to send in pictures of your high scores get your name and score published. Fun story: Steve Wozniak from Apple was published as the top Tetris player so long, he was eventually banned from submitting further scores so he began submitting under a fake name as “Evets Kainzow”.

People often had envelopes they had decorated published as well, there was always mario, zelda, mega man and street fighter 2 themed envelopes. Speaking of mega man, there was a contest held once through Nintendo Power to submit your ideas for new mega man bosses and the winner could see their robot in a future game.

The biggest and most well known contest is obviously the Nintendo World Championships that were held at Powerfest. Competitors from across the country were chosen to compete, for these players they received the grey cart they played on with their names, times and scores printed on them which have since become incredibly collectable.

The gold carts most associated with the NWC were not actually awarded to the winners of the NWC, but handed out via a seperate contest in Nintendo Power. Both grey and gold carts have fetched more than $15,000+ in auctions.

Nintendo Power subscribers also recieved a few perks, there was a huge tip book published for all the NES games currently made at the time, an SNES guide/review of available games at the time, as well as other guidebooks that came out over the year.

Last but not least, my favourite part of Nintendo Power was the posters…every issue had a poster in it that after managing to get it out without completely destroying it because it was attached to the spine of the magazine, you would hang on your wall. All the guys I knew growing up had these hanging on their walls and occasionally you’d have to take one down because a map was on the back (not the best design idea on Nintendo’s part).

I recently came across an anniversary edition of Nintendo Power at a 2nd hand store and it had the story of the rise of Nintendo Power and the history of the systems from the NES to the Wii, and after reading it, I had to do a write up on what was one of the best parts of mine, and numerous other kids childhoods.

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“Now you’re playing with POWER!”

#8bitliving

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