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Fairchild VES



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Remember, we are pretending it's 1976. August, to be more precise.

It's been roughly three years since you've played with your original Odyssey. It's been about a year since Sears Tele-games introduced PONG to the world. Since then there's been nothing out but an endless string of dedicated consoles all playing variation of PONG, mostly Hockey, Tennis and Handball (though Handball is usually under a different name, like Smash or Jai-lai.)

Let's face it. If you're a gamer from the future, playing anything you can find that could be considered a home videogame, you are starting to get a little crazy and more than a little sick of playing Hockey and Tennis variants.

So, now that it is August, you KNOW (having done your research before getting into the wayback machine) that the Fairchild Video Entertainment System comes out this month in 1976. You go out and find yourself a brand spankin' new Fairchild VES unit and bring it back to your Time Machine. You don't even bother getting cartridges for it, because this has BUILT-IN games which, whatever they are, will be a welcome relief from all the damn Hockey and Tennis variants you've been choking down for the past year.

You hook it up, start perusing the built-in games and what do you find?

Hockey and Tennis.

Your screams echo through the corridors of time.

Yes, Hockey and Tennis. Lets talk about Hockey. Hockey does something cool.

Firstly, to appreciate VES Hockey you need to understand the VES Controller.

You grip it in your least dominant hand vertically. On the top, is a triangular shapped knob which you control with your most dominant hand. The knob twists clockwise and counter-clockwise, like a paddle. It also can be moved in eight directions, like a joystick. And finally, it can be pushed or pulled up and down like a detonator plunger.

It's a very cool design, functionally.

In Hockey, you control two paddle-shaped men. A goalie and your, um, offensive hockey dude. (okay, I know nothing about real hockey terms).

The goalie controls are simple. You move the plunger up and down and that moves the goalie up and down across the goal. The joystick controls the movement of your offensive guy. The paddle component controls the angle of deflection of the puck by rotating the actual paddle-shape. It's really pretty damn cool and takes some practice to get used to controlling both the offense and the goalie.

Screenshots when I get my camera back. Unless I can figure out how to make animated gifs from emulator screenshots.

Tennis is pretty much what you'd expect. Pure and simple, yet in color.

Cartridge #1 next entry.

EDIT: Okay, made some screenshots with MESS. God I love that program. I also love (in a spiritual way) the person that dumped all the carts for the Channel F.

Above: The Hockey paddles in their start state.

Above: The Hockey paddles in one of their deflecting states.

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[quote name='e5frog' date='Wed Oct 11, 2006 1:33 PM'][quote]I also love (in a spiritual way) the person that dumped all the carts for the Channel F.[/quote]

Sean Riddle dumped most of them...

Yes, that person. I love Sean Riddle.

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[quote]Hockey and Tennis.[/quote]

AHAHAHA! I saw that coming but still I laughed my ass off!

I wish you talked more about the system. Well, not that I can't find the specs online, but I'd like to read your opinion, particularly in a 1976's point of view. This system was revolutionary and the next step in video gaming! Maybe in the next few entries you'll discuss the hardware - probably in the next one, as it should be about the first cartridge game ever!

I love Sean Riddle too.

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I found this amazing interview with Jerry Lawson, one of the key persons responsible for creating the Channel F. It's an awesome read.


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YES Jerry Lawson (R.I.P.) was a great interview! I remember him loving the "You Lose Turkey" hahahah.

I try to skew away from talking about the technology so much because:

A. I only really know some parts of it. Screen resolution, number of colors, etc. I mean, there's some programming bits about which I wish I knew more... for instance how one programmer found an "extra" memory buffer by reading one of the Channel F ports. I don't really go into the tech stuff because I'm [i]certain[/i] I'm going to misinform someone.

B. The idea is that I'm just "Joe Consumer" playing these things as he gets them, though I don't stick to that too strictly.

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