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Retro TV Games market dead?


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#1 Paul Humbug OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 1, 2007 6:41 AM

Ok,

yesterday at Toys R us checking out the video games department I was hoping to see one or the other TV Games with retro stuff but instead they are only selling the Disney and Sponge Bob types.

Also, no handheld device.

I understand every market has its time but I wouldnt have thought that its already over?

I would love to see some more Arcade sticks by Jakks.

#2 sdamon ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 1, 2007 8:47 AM

The market for retro game devices of all types seems to be drying up rapidly. A couple of years ago we had:

The Jakks sticks
Numerous arcade compilations (Namco, Taito, Midway)
The Target Midway cabinet
The PVGTech Taito & NeoGeo bartops
The Atari Flashback 2

Other than the cruddy Target cabinet, these were pretty good products. But they don't seem to have caught on quite well enough to inspire a second wave of retro goodies.

Perhaps the Live Arcade/Virtual Console/GameTap services are meeting the public's need for retro gaming now. Still, I prefer the products that tried to replicate the look and feel of the original games.

#3 jboypacman OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 1, 2007 5:29 PM

Yeah this seems to be dying down finally so keep a eye out for thoses clearance sales. :)

#4 Paul Humbug OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 2, 2007 8:27 AM

Yeah this seems to be dying down finally so keep a eye out for thoses clearance sales. :)


It seems there is nothing to clear anymore right now... I was hoping to see one of the Coleco Game Gear handhelds or another Jaaks.

Well, time to collect for my new toy, the GB Micro.

#5 S1500 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 2, 2007 8:36 AM

I regret never getting around to that GBA-like system that had all sorts of off-brand games at Best Buy. Would have been nice to get. Also the pill ones as well. But I see no point in buying the game systems that I have access to in Mame.

Mind you, the last time I bought a "Tv game system' was some dream gear 75-1 and it was absolutely horrible.

At Discland the other day I saw a "tv games system" which was this bulky(like a regular game console) system that had a cartridge port. Even at 7 bucks, I passed on it. It clearly looked marketed to kids.

#6 Paul Humbug OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 2, 2007 9:52 AM

I regret never getting around to that GBA-like system that had all sorts of off-brand games at Best Buy. Would have been nice to get. Also the pill ones as well. But I see no point in buying the game systems that I have access to in Mame.

Mind you, the last time I bought a "Tv game system' was some dream gear 75-1 and it was absolutely horrible.

At Discland the other day I saw a "tv games system" which was this bulky(like a regular game console) system that had a cartridge port. Even at 7 bucks, I passed on it. It clearly looked marketed to kids.



I know there is a lot of horrible stuff around from Far East. But I never ever regret having bought my Jakks Namco stick. It delivered enough fun for the buck and it still does. I do regret not having gotten the other version with Dig Dug.

Edited by Paul Humbug, Thu Aug 2, 2007 9:53 AM.


#7 jpfalcon2003 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 3, 2007 9:46 AM

I was hoping for a new Jakks stick with Jr. Pac-man and Baby Pac-man on it.

#8 Lord Helmet OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 3, 2007 1:51 PM

Seems as though main stream retro gaming has moved from the plug and play sticks to downloadable content for the current gen of consoles.

#9 Paul Humbug OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 3, 2007 2:52 PM

Seems as though main stream retro gaming has moved from the plug and play sticks to downloadable content for the current gen of consoles.



In my opinion completely 2 different kind of leagues. Arcade collections have always been around in one or the other form on consoles and PC, being downloadable just a different type of media distribution.

What makes my Namco stick excellent is, besides the faithful ports, it is a joy to use the stick and buttons, high score saving, etc.

Being very portable I lend it to friends to compete for high scores, waiting to get it back and see if there is a new challenger.

Also, an easy setup for parties, etc.

#10 onmode-ky OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 6, 2007 1:28 AM

I regret never getting around to that GBA-like system that had all sorts of off-brand games at Best Buy. Would have been nice to get. Also the pill ones as well. But I see no point in buying the game systems that I have access to in Mame.

Mind you, the last time I bought a "Tv game system' was some dream gear 75-1 and it was absolutely horrible.


The GBA-like system you're mentioning, is it the VG Pocket series (the predecessors of the VG Pocket Caplet/Tablet "pill" models)? If so, I think you have nothing to regret, because they (including the games onboard) were created by the same company as the one who made the horrible Dreamgear 75-in-1 you experienced: Jungletac.

I know there is a lot of horrible stuff around from Far East. But I never ever regret having bought my Jakks Namco stick. It delivered enough fun for the buck and it still does. I do regret not having gotten the other version with Dig Dug.


You know, the model with Dig Dug (i.e., the first Namco stick by Jakks, headlined by the original Pac-Man) is still available, with the packaging updated to the plastic packs that Jakks' TV Games line now uses. I don't know if the onboard software has been updated as well. The original version, which is what I have, had some noticeable inaccuracies in the replication of the games, but later TV Games versions of those games (e.g., the Bosconian on the 7-in-1 wireless Ms. Pac-Man unit, the Pac-Man and Dig Dug on the GameKeys for the Key-capable version of the Ms. Pac-Man (Namco II) stick, the Pac-Man on the Super Pac-Man (Namco III) stick) were a little more faithful to the originals. It's possible that the revamps are what are in the current releases of the Namco I stick. I've seen these available in Best Buys, Targets, and Wal-Marts, so they shouldn't be that hard to find.

I was hoping for a new Jakks stick with Jr. Pac-man and Baby Pac-man on it.


There is a new Jakks Namco stick coming out soon, called "Pac-Man Gold," but it doesn't look like it will have any games not already released in TV Games form. I have not seen any official listing of what games are to be on it, but an eBay auction that claims to be offering this product (seriously, I don't know how this seller could have gotten his hands on this as-yet-unreleased product, but so he claims) lists 8 of the previously released games.

It seems there is nothing to clear anymore right now... I was hoping to see one of the Coleco Game Gear handhelds or another Jaaks.


The Coleco Game Gear handhelds were only sold at certain Target stores. I believe the www.coleco.com website had a list of which ones carried them, so when looking for the stores which have the Colecos on clearance, make sure to be checking only the Targets that ever had them at all in the first place.

Going back to the original topic of the plug-and-play market going almost dormant, the dearth of new products is particularly noticeable to me; I've been tracking this market for years (incidentally, I've updated the file at the Comprehensive Plug-and-Play Listing thread). In the past 2-3 months, I've only added some coming-soon releases from Jakks and about 5 actual products, only 2 of which are not generics (also 2 entries for products released in Japan in 2003 that I only recently learned about). I guess it's no use hoping for a Gradius Collection TV Game now.

onmode-ky

#11 carmel_andrews OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 6, 2007 3:37 AM

The problem with these devices was that there was only one emulator built into them and only a limited amount of games

If companies were serious about this market and its potential what they would have done is the follwoing

create a general hardware based emulator (i.e only replicates custom chip sets, cpu/mpu's etc)

if you wish to play a certain emulator you simply take the device to a registed stockist/dealer and for a small fee they will upload an emulator module into your device, from the emulator that you've chosen (which also includes any or all o/s roms) and you can do that for as many emulators as you want (or to the limit of the devices memory)

The device will have a built in USB or PC stylee Network port, so you can download on to the device from a pc/mac, emulator compatible games/rom images for emulators that come with this device

As the device would be capable of running both computer and game system emulators, there would have been an option of a ps2/usb connector for attaching a pc or mac keyboard and mouse (which would be programmed to working in a specific way with particular emulators)

The device would also come with another USB connector this time with an adaptor to handling either Atari/Nintendo or PS1 etc joysticks also ST/Amiga compat. mice and joysticks as well

The device would have been compat. with USB/SDr memory sticks (SDR memory sticks, like the ones that you use with digital cameras, for saving your games/rom images you've downloaded from a pc/mac, eventually though an additional expanader box, simply called i/o expanded which would have fitted to the devices external data bus, the i/o expander would have had a built in notebook style (2.5 in.) large cap. hard drive, additional usb/sdr memory slots, a slot of attaching 3.5in. IDE/Sata type hard drives/cd/dvd devices (so you can play any emulator compat. game/rom file straight from the harddrive or cd/dvd drives as well as a DVI or VGA output so you can use a FPD or Plasma Screen or Pc/Mac Monitor as video output

The device would already come with a built TV out socket so as to displaying game content on a tv screen (although the device will come with it's own built in screen anyway)

#12 Paul Humbug OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 6, 2007 4:17 AM

The problem with these devices was that there was only one emulator built into them and only a limited amount of games

If companies were serious about this market and its potential what they would have done is the follwoing

create a general hardware based emulator (i.e only replicates custom chip sets, cpu/mpu's etc)

if you wish to play a certain emulator you simply take the device to a registed stockist/dealer and for a small fee they will upload an emulator module into your device, from the emulator that you've chosen (which also includes any or all o/s roms) and you can do that for as many emulators as you want (or to the limit of the devices memory)

The device will have a built in USB or PC stylee Network port, so you can download on to the device from a pc/mac, emulator compatible games/rom images for emulators that come with this device

As the device would be capable of running both computer and game system emulators, there would have been an option of a ps2/usb connector for attaching a pc or mac keyboard and mouse (which would be programmed to working in a specific way with particular emulators)

The device would also come with another USB connector this time with an adaptor to handling either Atari/Nintendo or PS1 etc joysticks also ST/Amiga compat. mice and joysticks as well

The device would have been compat. with USB/SDr memory sticks (SDR memory sticks, like the ones that you use with digital cameras, for saving your games/rom images you've downloaded from a pc/mac, eventually though an additional expanader box, simply called i/o expanded which would have fitted to the devices external data bus, the i/o expander would have had a built in notebook style (2.5 in.) large cap. hard drive, additional usb/sdr memory slots, a slot of attaching 3.5in. IDE/Sata type hard drives/cd/dvd devices (so you can play any emulator compat. game/rom file straight from the harddrive or cd/dvd drives as well as a DVI or VGA output so you can use a FPD or Plasma Screen or Pc/Mac Monitor as video output

The device would already come with a built TV out socket so as to displaying game content on a tv screen (although the device will come with it's own built in screen anyway)



Nice idea, but exactly that isnt Jakks business model. They dont invest in infrastructure, after market and such.

The game key console was a step into that direction. A pity they didnt develop it further.


Good to know about the Pac-Man Gold edition.


So, my Namco stick without game key plays differently from the other version?

Came the game key stick after mine?

#13 AtticGamer OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 6, 2007 10:34 AM

The should go back to this.

#14 mimo OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 6, 2007 12:43 PM

The should go back to this.

wow I had one of those!

#15 carmel_andrews OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 7, 2007 5:07 AM

i liked CGL's Space invaders 10,000 (the white one) but i think the black/yellow one (space invaders 1,000) was slightly more popular...I did on a CGL electronic game i just can't remember what i was (it was definately a space shoot em up though)

#16 S1500 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 7, 2007 8:37 AM

The big "duh" statement I will say with these TV games systems is the LACK of game variety. It's the same damn games over and over and over again. MAME's variety crushes them outright hundreds of times over.

#17 Paul Humbug OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 7, 2007 8:44 AM

The big "duh" statement I will say with these TV games systems is the LACK of game variety. It's the same damn games over and over and over again. MAME's variety crushes them outright hundreds of times over.


That might be right. MAME is one excellent piece of software but I do like play those games on a TV, I like the portability and of course the joystick is more authentic.

#18 onmode-ky OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 8, 2007 6:46 AM

Nice idea, but exactly that isnt Jakks business model. They dont invest in infrastructure, after market and such.

The game key console was a step into that direction. A pity they didnt develop it further.


Good to know about the Pac-Man Gold edition.


So, my Namco stick without game key plays differently from the other version?

Came the game key stick after mine?


If carmel_andrews could deliver his described product for $20, I'd scramble to buy one. And I would salute him for valiantly marching into certain bankruptcy for the sake of everyone else. Incidentally, carmel, none of the plug-and-play toys use emulators; i.e., none of them use hardware that runs software that runs another architecture's software. Having multiple layers like that means that the hardware has to be fast enough to do the software translation so that the top layer of software looks like it's going at its normal speed. This means more expensive hardware, and this market won't support that. It should be noted that this market is a mainstream toys market, not a high-tech niche collectors market. The companies in this market are serious; they are serious about not losing money creating products outside of their realm of expertise. Microsoft decided to enter a completely alien market years ago, and they still haven't turned a profit, instead incurring millions (billions?) in losses. Toy companies are much smaller than Microsoft and can't afford that kind of risk. Microsoft could make your product, though . . . and I don't know if they'd turn a profit on it, either.

Paul, I don't know if the Ms. Pac-Man Namco II stick had multiple revisions of its onboard software, only that the form factor had multiple revisions. Another user in the forum believed they did redo the software, based on his experiences, but I have not seen any cold, hard evidence myself. All I meant was that the games on some of the GameKeys were revisions of games on the Namco I stick. And yes, the Key-capable Namco II stick came out after the non-Key version. However, several more recent TV Games have the opposite, since GameKeys have been phased out. I don't think it's as much "a pity they didn't develop it further" as "a pity the initial GameKeys didn't sell well enough to convince retailers to buy more."

The big "duh" statement I will say with these TV games systems is the LACK of game variety. It's the same damn games over and over and over again. MAME's variety crushes them outright hundreds of times over.


I'm a little confused by this statement. I'm not aware of very many games which have been released multiple times in the same region. Here are the ones I can think of:

- Pac-Man (revised after first version; second release: GameKey; third release: Super Pac-Man stick)
- Bosconian (revised after first version; second release: wireless Ms. Pac-Man stick)
- Dig Dug (revised after first version; second release: GameKey)
- Rally-X (not sure about this one, as the wireless stick's version and the GameKey version might actually be New Rally-X; can't remember)
- Sonic the Hedgehog (second release: Super Sonic Gold pad)
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (second release: Super Sonic Gold pad)
- Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine (second release: Super Sonic Gold pad; yeah, this was one rehash-filled model)
- Frogger (second release, simultaneous with the Frogger-only stick: Konami Arcade Classics stick; third release: VG Pocket Tablet)

That's about it. Out of all the titles that have been released, this is a very small fraction. However, it increases if you include:

- the Flashback 2, whose library included games that previous plug-and-play systems had--though, of course, it was real this time
- Techno Source's later Intellivision releases, which may have rehashed some earlier ones; maybe their Activision one did, too, but I don't know
- the fact that the Game Gear hardware was released as 2 separate plug-and-play formats, whose libraries had some overlap
- all the generics, whose libraries always have had significant overlap.

Excluding the generics, which I think shouldn't count, this really isn't much of the overall plug-and-play market getting re-released. There are plenty more titles, particularly from Jakks, who has shifted to mostly licensed brands (and newly made games for them). Did you just mean the Namco re-releases seemed numerous?

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#19 jaybird3rd ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 8, 2007 1:35 PM

My biggest problem with the approach that Jakks, Radica, Techno Source, and Atari (with the FB1 and the horrid keychains) have taken is that they're going to a lot of trouble to produce coded-from-scratch versions of classic games that can never measure up to the originals.

The one notable exception was the Jakks Atari Paddle game, which I reviewed favorably last January and still enjoy today. Like many of the TV-games, that product was based on the ubiquitous "NES on a chip," but Digital Eclipse went to the trouble of implementing a "half-emulation" solution that ran the original 2600 game code natively on the NOAC (which, like the 2600 itself, is a 6502-based design) but used the NOAC's audiovisual and control circuits to simulate those of the 2600.

That made for a more polished and authentic gameplay experience, but also allowed Digital Eclipse to enjoy higher returns on their development efforts. Once they figured out how to get one 2600 game running in that environment, they probably got the other ten more or less for free; if they tried to code them all from scratch, it would have been ten times the effort and the results wouldn't have been as good. Granted, it takes a certain level of skill to pull that off, and the sloppy work that the other companies' inexpensive Chinese coders have done on their bad reproductions would seem to suggest that they don't have that level of expertise, but I think the other products would have been a lot better if they took a similar approach.

That's especially true of the recognizable coin-op titles like the Pac-Man series: if they couldn't get the original arcade code to run, the least they could have done was license Namco's original NES ports and run those on the NOAC instead of making their own pale imitations.

Edited by jaybird3rd, Wed Aug 8, 2007 1:59 PM.


#20 almightytodd OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 21, 2007 8:11 PM

I have one of the Jakks Atari joystick plug-n-plays and a FB2. I regret not getting one of the double-paddle sets when they were available at Toys R Us. It just seems that at the time, the price was around what I paid for my FB2, and I couldn't justify the expense for only 10 or 15 games.

The thing is, a lot of the charm of the original VCS was the fact that it was oriented towards a shared experience. Think about it; the original pack-in game for the VCS was Combat, which required two players. The Video Olympics cart has only two games (both variations of "Pong") for single-player only. This is also true of Surround.

It seems like most of the console systems since have focused on the solitary player experience; starting with Coleco Vision. Although some of the original NES titles had two-player games, many of those consisted of two players taking turns, which meant a lot of time spent sitting and watching the other player play.

Apparently, Nintendo has caught on to the gap in the shared-play experience with the Wii, which allows for more joint play action. Then there's Game Wave, which has potential for the small group experience, but it appears that for many of the games, the separate remotes just act as a "first answer" button in a TV game show type game, more than controllers for on-screen action.

SpiceWare's Medieval Mayhem gives the best of both worlds, with up to three AI opponents for a decent 4-player game experience for one to four players. It's a shame that Atari seemed to all but abandon four-player paddle games towards the end of the lifespan of the 2600, and they never offered such games on either the 5200 or 7800. If they'd been able to work out a multiplexed four joystick control scheme for the 7800, and ported Gauntlet or even made a four-player Dark Chambers, they might have had something to set 7800 games apart from NES.

The potential for four-player games on the 7800 could have been awesome, without the need to even come up with radically different game ideas: Four-player Combat, four-player Surround (...I seem to recall a coin-op arcade game that did that), four-player Pac Man, four-player Asteroids, four-player Rampage (...that would be COOL!) two-on-two basketball, soccer, hockey... ...come to think of it, the N64 and Game Cube had four-player games like Mario Kart, didn't they?

Well, I agree with the general sentiment in this thread, that the classic arcade plug-n-play titles seem to be fading out. That's a shame, because while I can get a lot of the same kind of fun out of emulation on the computer, for multi-player fun, I'm left with the FB2, or one of my classic systems - if I get get it/keep it working.

#21 mos6507 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 21, 2007 8:34 PM

Someone can only own so many of these things before it just becomes clutter. That was a big factor in why dedicated gaming died in the mid 1970s. I think it just reaches a saturation point where parents don't want their homes buried in these things.

#22 Feralstorm OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 21, 2007 9:26 PM

True enough, though I've been noticing a mild comeback recently for the Jakks Namco sticks (Pac, Ms. Pac, and Super Pac). Presumably this is building up stock for the holiday season.

#23 lord_mike OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Sep 21, 2007 11:05 PM

I've noticed a lack of interest from my friends as well...

For years, at my super bowl party, the focus of interest was always on my Atari 2600.... but, the past two years, no one has shown the slightest interest.. granted I have other distractions like a real life space invaders cabinet and a MAME cabinet, but almost everybody loved to play Atari football.. not recently... the machine was untouched last super bowl.

I took my buddies on a road trip the other week, and with the van, we have the drop down LCD DVD player... I brought my atari flashback to plug into it... thinking they would enjoy playing while on the road... absolutely ZERO interest whatsoever... They'd rather watch movies.... These are guys that really dig retrogaming... or used to...

Maybe it's too much of a good thing... the appeal is wearing off, I guess...

Thanks,

Mike

#24 Fort Apocalypse OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 26, 2007 6:23 PM

I think the problem is not that people don't want to retrogame, but that people need variety, and the same old games aren't new anymore if you keep pushing them. I also think that the Wii distracted people that would have otherwise been into the retrogames, but even the Wii will wear out. The way to combat this by coming out with new and exciting old stuff. Sounds like an oxymoron, but it really isn't. If people have forgotten about it then there will be a market for it.

Some perfect examples of this would be Pengo, Q*Bert, Marble Madness, Crystal Castles, 720(degrees), Tron, and maybe even do some laserdisc type tv games (yes I know they've had Space Ace/Dragon's Lair etc. for a while on DVD and there is the Daphne emulator, but if that stuff showed up in a little plug n' play unit it would sell- how you'd do it- don't know- not famicon and linux is still too expensive for a cheap unit, or is it?).

So the takeaway is, "Keep old new!" :)

Edited by Fort Apocalypse, Wed Sep 26, 2007 6:25 PM.


#25 Technosis OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 29, 2007 7:56 PM

Well I can't comment on the retail side of things for these games, but they have been turning up all over the place in thrifts and garage sales, usually never more than $2. In the past couple of months I've seen at least 4 of the Ms Pac-Man ones, 2 Star Wars, 2 Spiderman, 3 Spongebob, and just today I picked up a Jakks Mortal Kombat game for $0.25. The cool thing is half the time they have the expensive rechargeable AA batteries still in them :)

If you want some of these cheap just hit up your local yard sales.




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