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In depth Look - RCA Studio II AKA: The "Real" Worst Console Ever


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#51 Gamemaster_ca_2003 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 5, 2007 10:56 PM

Just because they're from Microsoft doesn't make them bad consoles.

Uh yes because they are from Microsoft, that does make them the Worst Consoles Ever.

Do you even have any idea what you're talking about? Download the emulator and tell me the Studio II isn't the worst game system ever. Why exactly don't you like the Xbox and Xbox 360, anyways? Is it because they're from a company who single handedly took over the software market and forced people to buy expensive, shoddily built crap? Look, can we just end this argument to keep from getting into a flame war?


Well I am Sorry for bashing good consoles because I hate the company that makes them, but I do Hate Microsoft and I will not let that fact cloud my judgement of Games, Systems, programs and OS'es they make.

As for the RCA Studio II It is bad, but has a certain charm that will most likely make you want to come back just to see how bad it is.

#52 mos6507 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 6, 2007 11:19 AM

Amazing that, at that time, you couldn't buy systems from department stores, only from electronics stores like music stores and TV stores.


It wasn't in toy stores, but it wasn't that hard to find. I remember seeing it in (I think) Lechmeres in New England side by side with the other consoles of the day. Didn't last long, but it was there. Same deal with the Astrocade.

#53 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 6, 2007 12:01 PM

I have a really neat programming cart for the Studio II that was only sold through the Studio II users club. I've never been able to use it because I think it requires modding the system (I have the instructions for how to do that though). I should dig it out sometime and look at it again.

Tempest


Can you like take some pics and make some scans? I can't find any evidence of this ever existing!

Thanks in advance!


Yeah I'll dig it out this weekend. It's just a circuit board with no case though.

Tempest

#54 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 6, 2007 9:32 PM

Here it is. I'll have to find the documentation on how to use it though.

Posted Image

Tempest

#55 SRGilbert OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 16, 2007 6:58 PM

Anyone have a power supply/rf box they can sell me so I can see how bad this really is?

#56 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 16, 2007 7:46 PM

Anyone have a power supply/rf box they can sell me so I can see how bad this really is?


I think the power supply for the Studio II hides itself out of self defense. If you were to actually power up and view a Studio II game, you'd lose a piece of soul. Don't do it!!!

Actually, the PS is hard to find. I think it's proprietary.

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#57 SRGilbert OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 16, 2007 8:07 PM

Anyone have a power supply/rf box they can sell me so I can see how bad this really is?


I think the power supply for the Studio II hides itself out of self defense. If you were to actually power up and view a Studio II game, you'd lose a piece of soul. Don't do it!!!

Actually, the PS is hard to find. I think it's proprietary.

Tempest

Probably! Yeah, I guess it's kinda like the 5200's, any chance that would work? I suppose that's why I found a system and 6 games for only 2 bucks! Oh well, it will look cool on the shelf anyway. :)

#58 Artlover OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 16, 2007 8:22 PM

You guys laugh about it, but just wait.

After a nuclear war, what do you think you'll be playing? PS3, Xbox, Atari 2600? They'll all be fried from the EMP and radation.

The CDP1802CD proccessor has resistance to radation! :cool:

#59 Atariman OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 16, 2007 9:13 PM

You guys laugh about it, but just wait.

After a nuclear war, what do you think you'll be playing? PS3, Xbox, Atari 2600? They'll all be fried from the EMP and radation.

The CDP1802CD proccessor has resistance to radation! :cool:


I don't know... after all that I've heard about the RCA Studio II, I think I'd rather just grab a 2600 joystick and pretend. :)

Of course, I've never gotten my RS II to power on correctly (despite following the instructions on how to make it start up), so I can't say first hand. At least my games are boxed! (even if they do smell like cat pee...)

#60 Lord Thag OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Sep 16, 2007 10:32 PM

Nice website! I had no idea anyone made 'homebrew' RCA games. Crazy!

I have a stack of boxed carts for this system, but I need the actual unit. It's the last original system that I need to get. The graphics are awful. They look worse than both the APF M1000 and the Channel F.

Still, it's an interesting piece of gaming history that's about as obscure as it gets.

#61 Rev. Rob OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:50 PM

A friend came over, so I just busted out with this thing a few hours ago. We were having an argument over "worst console ever," heh, so I just had to.

Funny thing I noticed... they got their "Pong" clone wrong. Randomly, when playing the "Tennis" game at a higher speed, the ball will shift course in mid flight. Like it'll just take a 180 degree turn in the other direction.

"RCA Studio II. So bad, we even fuck up Pong."

#62 swlovinist ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:02 PM

I collect everything, and actually did not mind playing bowling on the unit. With that being said, the RCA Studio II is very very primative and will stay boxed in my collection.

Minus Bingo, I have the entire collection boxed. I wish I could have seen that Bingo in person, as I agree with Y-bot and consider it a ? as to if it was commercially released. A strange little system.

#63 Bruce Tomlin OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:08 PM

I was referring to RCA engineers looking at programmable consoles that could do more than paddle games. Programmbles simply didn't exist-- the marketplace (such as the Atari consoles at the time) suggested a non-programmable future. The Channel F was developed simultaneously with the Studio II, so wasn't available for reference; only the Odyssey existed as a "programmable," and (obviously) was lacking in the microprocessor department at the time. Nothing else like this existed at the time RCA engineers were being paddled by marketers for looking at color.

That's important enough to deserve some bold tags. Also, most pong machines back in the day did not have color, and neither did the O1, so you can't say that color would have been expected.

The only game for it I don't have is Speedway/Tag. The lot I bought came with all the rest so it wasn't a complete loss.

I had a Speedway/Tag back in the day, and my brother and I had some fun with Tag. But when I found the pile of our carts from back then, it wasn't there. And I never found one in the wild since then.


Seriously, folks, this was the second programmable system released, EVER. The 8-way joystick hadn't become mainstream by then.

Before you call the Studio II the "worst system ever", I dare you to play a few Arcadia 2001 games. And without earplugs, since the awful sound (I've described it as being programmed by someone who was tone deaf) is a part of the experience of its awfulness. And remember that this turd came out at the same time as the 5200 and Colecovision.


Funny thing I noticed... they got their "Pong" clone wrong. Randomly, when playing the "Tennis" game at a higher speed, the ball will shift course in mid flight. Like it'll just take a 180 degree turn in the other direction.

I'm pretty sure I remember it had an "English" feature, maybe that's what you were seeing?

Edited by Bruce Tomlin, Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:11 PM.


#64 Atari2008 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 29, 2009 6:38 AM

After doing a little more searching I found a article with a picture of what may be part of the
Dealer Demo/Kiosk as mentioned earlier (could this be the same mon and pop store?), the
picture shows a large fold binder type book with pictures and descriptions. Article from 9-06-77

Also just a thought, there was the RCA Recording Studio that was commonly refered to as the RCA STUDIO
maybe this had something to do with naming it RCA STUDIO II ?


Posted Image


Hey at least the RCA Studio II appears to have been a hit somewhere. ;)

#65 Bruce Tomlin OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:19 AM

You know, I was just starting to wonder what the Studio I was.


And one more thing. People complain about how the controllers are built into the console. And they complain that you have to find the magic RF switch to use it. But they don't make the leap of logic that by combining the RF and power into a single wire, the result is that the whole unit IS the controller. So it's an exceptionally large controller, and it has to be shared across the lap for two-player play, but technically, it IS a controller, with one wire and a lot of buttons. And that wire was long, too. Like 15 feet or so, I think.

So it has a few more buttons than the Jaguar controller. So it's a bit larger than the original Xbox controller. So the cartridge goes into it, but the Power Joy does that too.

Think about it.


Also, only the second programmable system ever made put power over the RF wire. The 5200 did too, but then Nintendo said "YOU SO STUPID!" and reversed the direction of the power (powering the switch box instead of the console), forever freeing us from having to reach behind the TV set.

Edited by Bruce Tomlin, Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:22 AM.


#66 Bruce Tomlin OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:57 AM

I've typed in the article:

Galveston Business Review, September 6, 1977, page 10-A

Home TV Programmer Finding Favor In Galveston

Something new and different, that's what everybody looks for now and then. And, if it's something in the entertainment line, you need look no further than Melody Record Shop at 509 Moody.

C.Q. Ammann, president and general manager, reports the RCA Studio II Home TV Programmer is finding great favor with customers.

It brings tomorrow's world of home entertainment to you today. You transform the TV set in your home into an electronic entertainment and educational center for the entire family.

Five different built-in creative, educational and action programs are included with the Studio II. They are Doodles, Patterns, Bowling, Freeway, and Addition. And, points up Ammann, there are additional programs available in plug-in type cartridges. Also, there will be new and different games and educational or creative programs made available allowing you to enhance your Studio II library of entertainment.

RCA Studio II is a compact unit which attaches easily to the 300 Ohm VHF antenna terminals on color or black and white TV sets.

Packed with your Studio II is a small unit called the Selector Switch. This will allow the Studio II to be received on Channel 2 or 3 of your TV set just as if it were another TV station. With the switch at the TV position, the game will be turned off and your TV set returned to normal operation.

Among other games available for the Studio II unit include Space War, Black Jack, Tennis, Baseball, GunfighterMoonship Battle and Math 1, 2 and 3.

Space War includes two exciting "Shoot 'em Down" games. With the educational games you can test the level of your knowledge to math, social sciences, literature and other areas of interest.

This is an excellent addition to the home which provides not only entertainment but has educational values particularly for the school age youngsters, comments Ammann.

Interest in music is at an all-time high today, a national survey has revealed.

One in every five persons plays a musical instrument and along with your own personal musical ability, comes an upsurge of listening to music played by others. This is evidenced by the tremendous volume of business done by music stores and Melody Record Shop can attest to this.

With this in mind Amman has kept pace with the time. Melody Record carries top lines of stereos including such brands as Panasonic, Sony and RCA. He has a tremendous inventory of cassettes and Pfanstiehl needles and E. V. cartridges.

Another specialty with Melody Record Shop is the inventory of recordings that run the gamut of taste, from sweet and low to the popular rock. And certainly, the classics are not forgotten. If, perhaps, the particular record you are looking for is not in stock it will be ordered for you at no extra cost.

Melody Record Shop honors BankAmericard and extends the privilege of layaways.


I do have to wonder how much of that was from RCA advertising copy.

#67 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 29, 2009 10:21 AM

(could this be the same mon and pop store?),

Don't think so. IIRC the guy said it was somewhere in PA.

Tempest

#68 Atari2008 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 29, 2009 10:58 AM

I've typed in the article:

Galveston Business Review, September 6, 1977, page 10-A

Home TV Programmer Finding Favor In Galveston

Something new and different, that's what everybody looks for now and then. And, if it's something in the entertainment line, you need look no further than Melody Record Shop at 509 Moody.

C.Q. Ammann, president and general manager, reports the RCA Studio II Home TV Programmer is finding great favor with customers.

It brings tomorrow's world of home entertainment to you today. You transform the TV set in your home into an electronic entertainment and educational center for the entire family.

Five different built-in creative, educational and action programs are included with the Studio II. They are Doodles, Patterns, Bowling, Freeway, and Addition. And, points up Ammann, there are additional programs available in plug-in type cartridges. Also, there will be new and different games and educational or creative programs made available allowing you to enhance your Studio II library of entertainment.

RCA Studio II is a compact unit which attaches easily to the 300 Ohm VHF antenna terminals on color or black and white TV sets.

Packed with your Studio II is a small unit called the Selector Switch. This will allow the Studio II to be received on Channel 2 or 3 of your TV set just as if it were another TV station. With the switch at the TV position, the game will be turned off and your TV set returned to normal operation.

Among other games available for the Studio II unit include Space War, Black Jack, Tennis, Baseball, GunfighterMoonship Battle and Math 1, 2 and 3.

Space War includes two exciting "Shoot 'em Down" games. With the educational games you can test the level of your knowledge to math, social sciences, literature and other areas of interest.

This is an excellent addition to the home which provides not only entertainment but has educational values particularly for the school age youngsters, comments Ammann.

Interest in music is at an all-time high today, a national survey has revealed.

One in every five persons plays a musical instrument and along with your own personal musical ability, comes an upsurge of listening to music played by others. This is evidenced by the tremendous volume of business done by music stores and Melody Record Shop can attest to this.

With this in mind Amman has kept pace with the time. Melody Record carries top lines of stereos including such brands as Panasonic, Sony and RCA. He has a tremendous inventory of cassettes and Pfanstiehl needles and E. V. cartridges.

Another specialty with Melody Record Shop is the inventory of recordings that run the gamut of taste, from sweet and low to the popular rock. And certainly, the classics are not forgotten. If, perhaps, the particular record you are looking for is not in stock it will be ordered for you at no extra cost.

Melody Record Shop honors BankAmericard and extends the privilege of layaways.


I do have to wonder how much of that was from RCA advertising copy.


Thank you for typing in the article as it was a bit of an eyesore to read. :) It's definitely an interesting snapshot in time from an obscure console. Funny, parts of it do sound like they came from RCA's advertising.

I wonder if they were going for compact look with the built-in controllers and less wires hanging out.

Dumb question but are any of the games even half-way decent? Screenshots suggest otherwise.

#69 Bruce Tomlin OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:12 PM

Dumb question but are any of the games even half-way decent? Screenshots suggest otherwise.

Decent by what standard? They were better than O1 games, at least. There's not much you can do on a 64x32 pixel display. (FWIW, the graphics chip could do 128x32, and you could see that mode when you "fried" it, with the stack blinking and everything, but there just wasn't enough memory for games to use it.)

But the "educational" stuff was about on the level of the early "kid quiz" machines, in that all it did was have you go through a bunch of questions in a booklet, and enter the answer into the console. All it did was look for the right sequence and score you based on that.

Edited by Bruce Tomlin, Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:15 PM.


#70 BigO OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 29, 2009 9:22 PM

There's not much you can do on a 64x32 pixel display.

Maybe somebody could port Microvision games to the Studio II?

#71 Rev. Rob OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 29, 2009 11:39 PM



I was referring to RCA engineers looking at programmable consoles that could do more than paddle games. Programmbles simply didn't exist-- the marketplace (such as the Atari consoles at the time) suggested a non-programmable future. The Channel F was developed simultaneously with the Studio II, so wasn't available for reference; only the Odyssey existed as a "programmable," and (obviously) was lacking in the microprocessor department at the time. Nothing else like this existed at the time RCA engineers were being paddled by marketers for looking at color.

That's important enough to deserve some bold tags. Also, most pong machines back in the day did not have color, and neither did the O1, so you can't say that color would have been expected.


The Odyssey was released in 1972. The Odyssey 500, which was released in 1976, was a "pong" console with color graphics. Also, the system was obviously much more advanced than the Studio II.

Posted Image

According to articles I've read, Studio II games were actually programmed in color, but the outputs don't support it, and foreign clones of Studio II did display in color.

"Research has proven that 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. The research appears to have been proven true with a clone released in the UK called Sheen M1200. The Sheen M1200 was released in 1978, and produced PAL color with RCA Studio II games. Japan also made a color producing clone called the VISICOM Video Computer System. The lack of color on the RCA Studio II's release proves that the system was rushed to the market. Either that or RCA was looking for a cheaper way to manufacture the consoles."

http://darkwatcher.h...console/rca.htm

Before you call the Studio II the "worst system ever", I dare you to play a few Arcadia 2001 games. And without earplugs, since the awful sound (I've described it as being programmed by someone who was tone deaf) is a part of the experience of its awfulness. And remember that this turd came out at the same time as the 5200 and Colecovision.


Check my signature link. I have an Arcadia 2001. While it certainly isn't a good console, it's playable. Jungler wasn't even that bad, and at least Space Mission was somewhat unique. That's two more half decent games than what Studio II has.

Furthermore, I do think it's fair to compare Studio II to Channel F for the same reason why it's fair to compare Arcadia 2001 to the Atari 5200 or Colecovision. Both represented technology of the time. Arcadia 2001 was two years behind the current technology, and so was Studio II. It was released right after the Channel F and right before the 2600. All three were in development and planing at the same time. More advanced games were even on the market already.

Here's a fun excerpt from an interview with Jerry Lawson, an engineer at Fairchild Semiconductor who was the head of the Channel F project:

"JL: RCA was behind us. In fact, it was a piece of junk. I’ll tell you a funny story about RCA. We introduced our game, and RCA followed six months later in the Winter CES show. At that show in Chicago, RCA presented their Studio II. I had an invitation that said, “Hey, the RCA game is here.” Well, I wanted to see that. It was being shown in a suite. And I went up to the suite and walked in. They had their game there, and this guy looks up and sees me with a Fairchild badge on, right? And I’m 6′6″, 280 pounds. This clown charged me and tried to wrestle me to the ground. And I banged him on his head! I said, “If you want me to leave, I’ll leave!”

And what I saw was a laugh. They had this game — it was in black and white. It looked horrible. So, the next day, he came down to our booth. And when he came down to our booth, I jumped the counter, heading for him. And he started running! [laughs] I said, 'Ah, there he goes.'"

I'm pretty sure I remember it had an "English" feature, maybe that's what you were seeing?


Nope, it doesn't have an "English" feature. I thought maybe it did, but it doesn't. I am sure. For one, it's not in the manual, and we were so surprised that the ball started veering off course, that we made sure no one was hitting any buttons between serves, and it still happens. It's just broken. It's even more sad because Tennis/Squash wasn't a built in game. It's actually a cart that was sold separately.

There are other consoles in existence that are bad. Arcadia 2001 is one of them, Game.com is another, but Studio II's got them beat with room to spare.

Dumb question but are any of the games even half-way decent? Screenshots suggest otherwise.


Nope.

Don't believe me? Just look at this screenshot from a Studio II game:

Posted Image

See the hidden message? It's like the console is trying to warn you.

Decent by what standard?


How about by the standard of "pong" console from two years before the Studio II was released?

They were better than O1 games, at least.


Tennis on Odyssey actually worked. Basketball and Handball, were actually fun. And, it had an awesome lightgun and detachable controllers. So, I disagree.

There's not much you can do on a 64x32 pixel display.

Maybe somebody could port Microvision games to the Studio II?


I would throw down some money for that right now!

Seriously, I'd pay a pretty good price for any homebrew Studio II game.

Also just a thought, there was the RCA Recording Studio that was commonly refered to as the RCA STUDIO
maybe this had something to do with naming it RCA STUDIO II ?



I have read that this is indeed the case.

P.S. Bruce, thanks for typing up that article. Great job! :)

You know, that's the first time I've ever seen it referred to as "Home TV Programmer" before. I noticed that it says it, but I've only ever seen it referred to as Studio II.

Edited by Rev. Rob, Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:06 AM.


#72 FlightSuit OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 30, 2009 2:16 AM

I'd also like to wee one of those color clones.

y-bot


Sounds like you're not the only one who wants to piss on this system!

#73 Atari2008 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 30, 2009 6:34 AM


There's not much you can do on a 64x32 pixel display.

Maybe somebody could port Microvision games to the Studio II?


I would throw down some money for that right now!

Seriously, I'd pay a pretty good price for any homebrew Studio II game.


If you scroll to the bottom of this page there are 3 homebrews that you can play on an emulator:

http://studio2.class...ng.gamespy.com/

Combat, Space Invaders and Hockey.

This thread actually inspired me to download their emulator out of curiosity, and I played some of the built-in games for a few minutes. Definitely as bad as people have described. Bowling was the first game I tried which was okay but it looked ugly as hell. The doodling game was pretty boring especially without any color! The racing game was weird in that when you hit the other car nothing happened, LOL. I couldn't get the sound to work but maybe that's a good thing? I believe the only homebrew that they had a ROM for on that site was Space Invaders, I think the Combat and Hockey links don't work any more but they do have screenshots. Space Invaders was definitely more fun compared to the built-in games that I played. Not sure if the homebrews were ever released on cart.

Maybe someone should port Pac-Man? LOL.

#74 Atari2008 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:07 AM


Dumb question but are any of the games even half-way decent? Screenshots suggest otherwise.

Decent by what standard? They were better than O1 games, at least. There's not much you can do on a 64x32 pixel display. (FWIW, the graphics chip could do 128x32, and you could see that mode when you "fried" it, with the stack blinking and everything, but there just wasn't enough memory for games to use it.)

But the "educational" stuff was about on the level of the early "kid quiz" machines, in that all it did was have you go through a bunch of questions in a booklet, and enter the answer into the console. All it did was look for the right sequence and score you based on that.


By decent I meant are there any games that are actually fun to play? Sure doesn't sound like it.

#75 eegad OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:56 AM

Wow. A Studio II discussion. As someone who has owned one since 1979, I can attest that the system is pretty bad. That year I wanted an Atari 2600 for christmas. My parents said it was too expensive. I ended up getting an RCA Studio II (which was on closeout at Radio Shack for like $50, including all the games available for it). Despite my big disappointment, I will say that I did in fact play it a fair amount over the next few months. I actually did like the built-in bowling game, as well as the pattern-making kaleidoscope game (whatever they called it). Thankfully, I did finally get my atari the following summer for my birthday, and the studio II was packed up in its box and tossed in the back of the closet. I've actually kept it all these years & I hooked it up 2-3 years ago just to see if it worked. Still worked just fine. Still laughably bad to play. :)

And to the person who commented about Pong being broken - if you hit the ball on the edges of the paddle WHILE the paddle is in motion, the ball will take a sharp turn part-way across the screen....that was supposed to simulate putting "english" on the ball.




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