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ubersaurus

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About ubersaurus

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  • Birthday June 12

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  1. We've hit the end of the line for 1980 VCS releases with Activision's Bridge! Probably the most niche release on the platform, we get into all we can about how the game was received and why it was made - as well as a roundup of 1980 in video games in North America.
  2. I don't know if anyone has written about it specifically. There are a few basic trends though - a focus on kids as the target audience, a focus on specific games once Space Invaders came out in 1980 and was a huge hit - but broadly speaking from what I've dug through they generally promoted that it had a sizable library of a mix of games.
  3. I have a number of newspaper ads listed on my site that indicate when Breakout and Super Breakout dropped. https://www.atariarchive.org/atari-vcs-game-release-dates/
  4. I'm certainly interested in such a thing, but yes it would definitely be a boutique product for sure. Given that all Bally Arcade units are going to be roughly 40 years old though I suspect the power supplies are universally going to be the biggest threats to their continued functionality. I agree that crowdfunding a redesigned power supply and then having some extras on hand for stragglers (maybe through console5 or some such site) would be a good approach.
  5. Just a bit of an update from the research side of things: First, I received a Hagley research grant last year and spent a week in Delaware going over their paper archives. I didn't finish getting through all the folders and boxes that I wanted, but it was an informative visit - I found some previously unknown and unscanned 1802-based newsletters (featuring some VIP programs), the source code to Studio IV's version of BASIC that has since been implemented into Emma02, the source code to a LINC Pong game from the 60s, and a bunch of other stuff. Ended up doing a twitter thread of some highlights: Secondly, Hagley digitized some of the materials I asked about while I was up there and the folks were inspired to set up a Hagley Computing Collection digital page to collate them. Highlights include test footage of a VideoDisc adventure game demonstration, the VIP Game Manual II, photos of RCA's 1967 pool computer game and some cool stuff on the Spectra 70 (also a breakdown of Joe Weisbecker's Tic-Tac-Toe playing computer he build in the mid-50s): https://digital.hagley.org/islandora/object/islandora:2632679 And third, I just received an oral history grant through Hagley to interview folks involved with RCA's computer and video game work! Currently reaching out to folks I'd talked to previously by email to see if they'd like to do an oral interview, and to folks I'd spoken to over the phone to see if they'd be willing to have those interviews sent along to Hagley to add to their RCA archive. With luck, maybe this'll shake loose some of the folks who seem to have stubbornly kept a low profile. I should add that there is also renewed interest in game preservation circles to get type-in programs for all kinds of platforms input and saved so they can be ran on actual hardware or emulators; I may give a shot at doing so for some VIP stuff myself but I think it's a worthy effort all-round for RCA's games. There's some type-in code listings for FRED and VIP at Hagley even beyond what's in the game manuals and newsletters...
  6. Next video is up, looking at the critically acclaimed Skiing by Bob Whitehead! Learn all about how this game was received and how it has a semi-secret sequel on the VCS!
  7. Given how cheap Atari SA is, probably it’s a licensing cost thing. Don’t ask me why they put out a new version on the Flashbacks though.
  8. The VCS basically lucking into being a flexible design plus Atari having top notch game design talent certainly didn't hurt, but I do think the Channel F could have carved out an Odyssey2-level niche for itself on the market had Fairchild not struggled as a company. The System II was much closer in price to the VCS, but of course by that point Fairchild was hurting and had dramatically cut back their production numbers. Having gone through the Channel F library and the VCS library up through 1980, Atari's stuff had smoother movement but was otherwise pretty on par with what Fairchild was pumping out. The Bally, boy. The epitome of "I shoulda been a contender" but there really is no one thing one could have done to get it on the worldbeater path it was built for.
  9. Alas, I got that image off someone on Facebook! Wish I had it myself. I tracked down the post and messaged the owner, just in case I can get him to do a clean scan.
  10. Good deal! I may inquire about getting a clean copy of that newsletter then, I use it as a source on this: https://www.atariarchive.org/fairchild-channel-f-game-release-dates/ you mentioned that you have some items that haven’t found their way on the site yet; what sort of materials do you have? Anything of interest to researchers?
  11. Ahh, I had pulled so much of your work there as a history source, that’s too bad to hear! Would it be possible to get non-watermarked images of the paperwork you’ve got up there? Would be good to have archived elsewhere online for researchers.
  12. I mean both deserved better but they both got hung up by problems behind the scenes. In both cases FCC approvals delayed their platforms - this was a bigger problem for Bally than Fairchild but they both suffered from it in terms of missed shipping dates and adjustments to the console designs that made them more expensive and less reliable. Atari had Sears to shepherd them through the process so the VCS basically sailed through. Fairchild had gotten burned by some of the other 70s home electronics fads (ala calculators, digital watches, CB radios) and as a result was extremely conservative on producing Channel F hardware, according to Jerry Lawson. If you look through contemporary reporting Fairchild and Atari are regularly mentioned in the same breath in coverage as having pretty equivalent libraries of solid games, but the VCS was a bit cheaper and was being produced in larger numbers (something like 800k produced in 1978, with 500k sold). This did burn Atari in 1978, as they overproduced VCS consoles and it dinged their profit margin, but Fairchild only produced something like 15k in 1976, 150-250k units in 1977 and 50k in 1978, said Lawson. Fairchild also had problems elsewhere in the company that led to layoffs and an eventual buyout by Schlumberger. So arguably the Channel F never really got the same kind of shake the VCS did just due to fear on the part of the company's leadership and factors beyond their control. The Bally Professional Arcade on the other hand had your FCC delays, quality control problems, and the general gap between arcade distribution networks and consumer product distribution and support. Bally didn't really seem to like being in a consumer space, and after all the problems the BPA had getting to market in a functional state the consumer division was basically the first thing on the chopping block at the company when they needed to get rid of something. The price tag has also been rightly noted as being really high, and while it would have been reasonable if the computer add-on had came out, it's unclear if there was any major commercial interest in it to help the machine anyway. Estimates from back in the day were that Bally only sold 28k units in 1978, which is absolutely wild. Astrocade had big plans for the BPA when they got it in 1980, but when I spoke with former Astrocade guy Tom Meeks last year he told me the company had some serious internal political struggles and shady stuff on the sales side that routinely undermined the system (undershipping the games stores wanted as part of a scheme to pocket more money by sales, etc). There was an intention to sell off the platform to a bigger company like Hasbro or Fisher-Price that had the resources and the distribution to really get the console out there, but those both fell through due to some serious miscalculations on the part of the sales execs trying to play the companies against each other. It's all a shame, as the BPA is an excellent machine and has some really cool games (both commercial releases and bedroom coder stuff) but a lot was working against it pretty much every step of the way. Related, Astrocade also tried to get the BPA out into Europe, had a PAL unit designed and came incredibly close. but once again, internal political jockeying by their head sales guy Ray George ended up sinking that deal at the last minute, literally when all the investors were all ready to agree to it.
  13. A wee bit of self-promotion, as I talked about this video series with the Video Game History Foundation's Frank and Kelsey for their podcast that just went up today! Additionally, tomorrow I'll have another Annex video out about RCA's commercial video games - I probably won't link it in this thread since I want to keep it focused on the mainline VCS stuff, but look out for it soon. https://anchor.fm/gamehistorypodcast/episodes/Ep--13-Kevin-Bunch-eockmd
  14. Glad to see I’m still on the list - I’ll be looking forward to your message!
  15. New video looks at Maze Craze and the history of its particular subgenre of "pure" maze games generally! Coming out just on the cusp of Pac-Man's North American release and the subsequent major shift away from the maze itself being the focus of a maze game, Rick Maurer's final VCS game takes a number of its cues from similar games that had come before in the arcade and competing console space to produce a title that is in many ways the pinnacle of its type.
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