The difference between the 1983 Coleco Supergame module and the 2013 OpCode Supergame module
Coleco’s unreleased Expansion module #3 (Supergame module)
Soon after the successfully launch of the $200 ColecoVision in 1982, Coleco was planning on releasing the ColecoVision Supergame module (Expansion Module #3). This low cost unreleased Supergame module most likely would have had an estimated retail price of $200 (however, that is only speculation since I do not remember any price mentioned for the unreleased Supergame module). The problem Coleco had with the original ColecoVision is that the useable working RAM was only 1KB. The original Coleco Supergame module was designed to plug into the expansion module interface on the front of the ColecoVision and expand the working RAM from 1K to around 30K of useable RAM. With more RAM videogame developers could design much better quality videogames for the ColecoVision. However, Coleco had another problem. In the 1980’s videogame cartridges were expensive. I remember paying around $50 for a 24KB ColecoVision cartridge called Zaxxon. Most ColecoVision cartridges at the time were around $30.
So back in the 1980’s ColecoVision cartridges were limited in size to a maximum of 32KB. Therefore, instead of Coleco designing a very expensive larger size cartridge over 32KB, they decided that the Supergame module should contain a wafer drive that uses Supergame wafers. Supergame wafers could hold videogames up to 128KB. The wafer drive was a high speed automatic computer grade tape drive that reads up to 128KB wafer tapes. In the 1980’s flash memory technology did not exist yet for game cartridges so the advantages of tape drives was the ability to store names and high scores in the Hall of Fame screen along with the ability to save games. Tapes are also less expensive compared to cartridges. The original Coleco Supergame module #3 had a reset button to begin loading of the Supergames on the wafer tapes.
The advantage of the original unreleased Coleco Supergame module was the fact that it had a front expansion module interface so consumers could plug in Expansion module #1 the Atari 2600 adapter or any other future product that Coleco planned on releasing.
As many people already know the 1983 Coleco Supergame module prototype was canceled. Some of the reasons for the cancellation was the wafer drive could not be produced in large QTY’s and reports of reliability issues.
** Click here for a picture of the 1983 Coleco Super Game Module **
In 1983 Coleco released Expansion module #3 as a Adam computer with a built in Coleco Supergame module for $600
In 1983 Coleco released Expansion module #3 for $600 that turned the $200 ColecoVision into a Supergame module and a Adam computer system. Also for $800 a standalone Adam was released that included a built in ColecoVision with a composite video output. Expansion module #3 the Adam computer expanded the useable 1KB of working RAM to a total of 32KB of working RAM. The advantage of the Expansion module #3 Adam computer is that ColecoVision owners for the first time could play Supergames that were much better when compared to the 32KB ColecoVision cartridges. The Adam computer uses Digital Data Packs that hold up to 256KB size videogames which is double the capacity of the originally planned wafer drive. The Digital Data Drives were just an automatic high speed tape drive that used high speed tapes called Digital Data Packs. When the Adam reset button was pulled and released the Coleco Supergames would load from the Digital Data Drive. Back in 1983 the Digital Data Drives were considered state of the art compared to the slow manual tape drives that many computer systems used. For an additional $99.99 a second Digital Data Drive could be purchased for the Adam computer system. Coleco in 1984 released a 5 ¼ inch single sided 160K floppy drive that was able to hold smaller Adam games, however bigger size Adam games over 160KB still required the 256KB Digital Data Drives or a third party 320KB double sided 5 ¼ inch floppy drive. Later on Micro Innovations developed a 1.44MB 3.5 inch floppy drive for the Adam computer that allowed videogame developers to make videogames as large as 1.44MB (However I am not aware of any third party games every released that used the entire 1.44MB of space).
The Adam computer with a built in Supergame module also contained an expansion module interface on the side that allowed consumers to plug in the Atari 2600 adapter and other third party expansion devices like the EVE speech synthesizer.
In January of 1985 the Adam computer was discontinued by Coleco. What was disappointing is the majority of ColecoVision owners did not want to spend $600 for Expansion module #3 that turned their ColecoVision into both a Supergame module and personal home computer system called the Adam. Also in 1983 there was some technical problems that gave the Adam a bad reputation, however when Coleco cleared up those problems in 1984 it was too late since the damage was already done. Many ColecoVision owners also did not realize that the Adam computer played Coleco’s Supergames. Some people thought that games like Donkey Kong, Zaxxon, and others on the Adam were exactly the same as the ColecoVision. Perhaps if the Adam did not include a printer and was launched at cheaper price, along with better marketing of the system to the videogame community it might have been much more popular. The only reason I purchased Expansion module #3 back in 1983 was to play exclusive Coleco Supergames, and later on having a personal computer became a bonus.
The 2013 Opcode Supergame module
So 30 years later an official Coleco licensed Supergame module has been released for both the ColecoVision and Adam computer. The Supergame module plugs into the ColecoVision or Adam expansion module interface. The one negative thing about the 2013 Opcode Supergame module is that it does not have an expansion module interface to plug in the Atari 2600 adapter or a third party EVE speech synthesizer for Adam owners. Therefore, when one wants to use the Atari 2600 adapter or another third party ADAM device like the EVE speech synthesizer they will need to remove the Opcode Supergame module. Some people would have also liked a SD card reader built in with a reset button on top of the Supergame module to simulate a Supergame wafer drive. However, offering both a SD card reader (wafer drive simulation) and making a front expansion module interface would have most likely increased the cost of the 2013 Opcode Supergame module to around $200.
I find it amazing that the official Coleco licensed Opcode Supergame module only costs $90 including shipping. Also that includes a very beautiful colorful Coleco display box and instruction manual. There is even a red LED power light on the Supergame module that lets people know that their ColecoVision or Adam is turned on.
At first I was a little disappointed that the Opcode Supergame module does not contain a SD wafer drive that would simulate a wafer tape drive, however then I realized that was a good cost cutting move by Opcode. I believe Coleco would have designed their Supergame module just like Opcode has in 2013 if Coleco would have had access to low cost cartridges above 32KB in size. The reason why Coleco was interested in the wafer tape drive and Digital Data Drive for Supergames back in 1983 was because bank switching 256KB game cartridges would have been extremely expensive to make back in the early 1980’s. If Coleco could have had access to the low cost Opcode Super Game Cartridges that holds ones names and high scores, then that is what they would have used for all their Supergames since tapes are not as reliable as cartridges.
What is amazing about the Opcode Super Game Cartridges is that game developers will be able to make videogames that remember the person’s name and high score when the cartridge is unplugged. Also saving a video game to play later will also be possible with the Super Game Cartridge. This is exactly how many Coleco Supergames on the Adam operate with a disk drive or Digital Data Pack. Opcode has developed the new Super Game Cartridges for the ColecoVision/ADAM standalone and the new Supergame module. The Opcode Super Game Cartridges allows videogames up to 8MB in size to be developed. In comparison the 3.5 inch 1.44MB Micro Innovations floppy drive was the maximum game storage capability on the Adam computer. These new Opcode 8MB Super Game Cartridges with an EEPROM will be awesome for videogame developers that want to make new Supergames for the ColecoVision/ADAM.
Also if one really wants a SD wafer drive for the ColecoVision, Atarimax makes a ColecoVision/Adam Ultimate SD cartridge
that will read and write up to 32GB onto a 32GB SDHC card. So videogame developers have plenty of room for a videogame up to 32GB in size.
The amazing thing that Opcode did with the Supergame module is that when it’s connected to a ColecoVision it will expand the useable working RAM from 1KB to 32KB. The Opcode Supergame module also simulates the memory mapping of the original Expansion module #3 Adam computer system that plays existing Coleco Supergames. Since the ADAM computer already has 32KB of useable RAM, the Opcode Supergame module when connected to an Adam computer will disable the RAM in the Supergame module and instead use up to 32KB of the ADAM’s RAM.
Since the Opcode Supergame module simulates the memory mapping of the original Adam computer, this means some new videogames being released will run on the Adam computer without the need for the Supergame module. However, the big advantage of the Opcode Supergame module is that it doubles the ColecoVision and Adam sound capabilities. This means for some videogames coming out the Supergame module is needed for both the Adam and ColecoVision systems. Games that require the Supergame module for the Adam and/or ColecoVision will be clearly marked by the mainstream third party ColecoVision/Adam developers.
Some ideas for the new 2013 Opcode Supergame module for Adam owners
Currently videogame developers are making videogames that are 100% compatible for both the Adam and ColecoVision. However with the new improved sound capabilities of the Supergame module combined with the Adam keyboard and third party Adam memory expander there could be all kinds of new exclusive Adam videogames and applications made. For example a Wheel of Fortune game that uses the Adam keyboard and the new sound chip in the Supergame module would be something interesting to play with. Also the new sound chip in the Supergame module opens up the possibility for all kinds of new Adam applications that could take advantage of the Adams new frequency range. With the use of a 32GB SDHC card in the Atarimax Ultiamte SD cartridge plugged into the Adam computer and with a 1MB memory expander there is all kinds of amazing things that could be done. Coleco employees back in 1983 would love to have the technology that we have in 2013. There is no time machine yet to travel back 30 years to fix Colecos past mistakes.
Opcode for only $90 plus free shipping has designed an amazing product called the Coleco Supergame module that many ColecoVision owners wanted to purchase in 1983 instead of the more expensive $600 Expansion module #3 Adam computer. Opcode in keeping with some of Coleco’s original Supergame module vision simulated the Adam 32KB RAM memory mapping. Also unique to the Opcode Supergame module is the new AY-3-8910 sound chip
that is not found in any prior Coleco product, however the chip was used in many famous arcade games around 1983.
Edited by HDTV1080P, Mon Apr 22, 2013 5:24 AM.