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Microvision / Block Buster review

Posted by atari2600land, 16 November 2011 · 1,086 views

Microvision
Hey gang, I just got my Microvision in the mail today. For those who don't know, the Microvision was the first handheld game system and was released in 1979. That being said, the graphics are, well, blah. They consist of a bunch of squares that turn on and off, much like the playfield pixels in batari Basic. But what do you expect for a handheld system from '79? I'm surprised the thing even works. Anyway, the game that came with it, Block Buster, is a Breakout clone. Very hard, because even on the slowest speed, the ball moves really fast and it's hard, mostly downright near impossible, to keep up with, especially on the serves, which originate from random places on the screen, which is really irritating because you never know where it's going to come from and it moves really fast. To move the paddle there's a little dial which you can turn. So anyway, that being said, it is a lot like what I imagined for a handheld system, and I just wish there was a way to program this thing so people can make homebrews for it. And I wonder what Connect Four looks like on this thing because there's only one color...




While the graphics may be blah today, it was cutting edge when I got mine for my 13th birthday in November of 79! Before that we had things like LED football and racing.


I ended up with 9 or 10 games for mine. Sadly it disappeared over the years :( It was lost during one of our many moves - I'd lived 25 places by the time I was 25!

Connect 4 was done by using two different 2x2 patterns:
XX
XX

X_
_X

The initial cartridge used the overlay to make them appear circular. This is the best image I could find if it in action. Later cartridges just used lines to define the gameboard, which wasn't as effective.
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It is interesting to note that the "console" portion of the system was basically made up of the LCD, its driver chip, battery box and controller. There was no CPU in it. The CPU was in each separate cartridge and used masked rom technology when the processor was made at the factory..

Also, be aware that the Microvision carts are the most "susceptible to static electricity" games ever made. As little as 2200 volts will make a cartridge fail. The sliding door intended to protect the contacts on the cartridge is actually a deadly source of static when it slides. It is recommended to put an anti-static compound on the sliding door.
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While I was at Game Over earlier this week I saw a Connect Four cartridge and was able to take a better photo of it.
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