NowGamer has revealed its Top 50 Greatest Gaming Moments. It’s an epic look back at those moments that have really defined the medium, memorable scenes, events and basically those moments of games that live on in the memory long after their worlds have been saved, the credits roll and they’ve been traded in.
We were pleasantly surprised to see how much retro gaming love made it in (admittedly though, it’s mostly console centric). Entries include the first pair of trousers you ruined fighting your first Cyberdemon, zombie dogs providing business for Raccoon City’s double glazing salesman, and (one of Darran’s suggestions) the second stage of Strider.
Best of all though, accompanying many of the entries are quotes from the developer responsible, with the likes of Naughty Dog, Telltale Games, Epic Games, Sony Santa Monica, Hideo Kojima and Infinity Ward all contributing.
Coleco Industries had a lot going for it in the early 1980s. Its new console, the ColecoVision, had started to tear up sales charts thanks to the quality of its arcade ports, especially its pack-in, Donkey Kong. Expansion modules being released were adding to the console’s usefulness and its potential game library. But the console’s time in the limelight was tragically short-lived, as the market’s bottom fell out and the ColecoVision became just another dead format in the wake of gaming history.
Still, there is something to say for the ingenuity of individuals in gaming history. Without Eric Bromley, the ColecoVision would not have existed, and it’s safe to say that some of gaming’s most entertaining stories would never have occurred. Bromley’s invention received high praise and the sales to back it up in its few years in the market, but this is perhaps secondary to the tale of how Bromley got his hands on Nintendo’s prize coin-op, Donkey Kong.
Bromley wasn’t even aware of the game’s existence when he met with Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi to secure the rights to several Nintendo properties, but after a short trip to the bathroom, he stumbled across the game which would make his console king. What followed was a whirlwind tale of $200,000, Japanese business practices, and Bromley’s inevitable begging of Yamauchi to allow him to live his dream of making the best console imaginable with the best game he could include. But he got that dream. So out of respect to Eric Bromley, his dreams, and pure dumb luck, Racketboy.com is proud to present the ColecoVision 101.
photo by moparx
Coleco Industries, originally the Connecticut Leather Company, originally entered the video game market with the release of the Telstar Arcade in 1976. Despite its initial success, competition forced the company to take a $22 million loss.
Engineer Eric Bromley, who had previously worked in R&D for such companies as Midway, began working on a design for Coleco CEO Arnold Greenberg as early as 1979, but was unable to proceed due to the high cost of RAM.
After Bromley discovered the price of RAM had dropped in 1981 from a copy of the Wall Street Journal, the company decided to return to the video game fray, releasing the ColecoVision in August 1982. Outside of the United States it was known as the CBS ColecoVision because it was distributed by CBS Electronics. In the US it was unveiled at $174.99.
To gain access to its pack-in title, Donkey Kong, Coleco paid Nintendo $200,000 to license the game, plus $2.00 in royalties per unit sold.
The system had strong sales figures from the beginning, passing its first million in early 1983, only months before the market crash of that year.
Unfortunately despite its strong sales, the console couldn’t weather the storm. Sales dropped dramatically and limped on for a little longer, but production was ultimately canceled in late 1984.
By the time of its death, the ColecoVision had sold at least 2 million units, with some claims saying the final number was over 6 million.
While Coleco ended up eventually being bought out by Hasbro in the wake of bankruptcy over Cabbage Patch Dolls, their ColecoVision rights went to British-based Telegames. In 1988, Telegames released the Dina 2-in-1, a clone which plays both ColecoVision and Sega SG-1000 games. In the US, the machine is known as the Telegames Personal Arcade.
photo by ninetyonepercent
The ColecoVision was the first console to feature expansion modules to further its life and capabilities.
Despite the inventiveness of the expansions, the ColecoVision also showed that no accessory can save you if it features a high failure rate. Coleco lost over $80 million in the wake of the ADAM computer’s release due to its high failure rate.
The console proved the strength of arcade-worthy ports, often outdoing its rivals in quality.
The ColecoVision is also a symbol of what was lost due to the video game market crash of the early 1980s. If the market had not gone under, sales predictions show that the console may very well have overtaken the Atari 2600, becoming the top dog on the market.
Nintendo effectively put Coleco in a stranglehold to get the rights to Donkey Kong, forcing them to send $200,000 to Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi’s corporate account by midnight that night and then wrote the contract out on a napkin. Later, Yamauchi said Atari had the rights to Donkey Kong, and Bromley basically begged and groveled with the help of Yamauchi’s daughter, Yoko Yamauchi, to receive a formal contract for the game.
Coleco was also sued by Atari over the creation of the ColecoVision Expansion Module #1. But since the Atari 2600 was built from freely available parts, Coleco won the lawsuit.
ColecoVision Games – photo by Brandi Ediss
A near-arcade perfect port of Donkey Kong was the pack-in game for the ColecoVision.
Many of the arcade games ported over to the ColecoVision were regarded as near-arcade perfect when compared to other ports on home consoles or computers.
The first expansion module released for the ColecoVision allowed players to play Atari 2600 games on it, giving access to an enormous library beyond its own releases.
With the proper accessories, the ColecoVision can be turned into a functional personal computer.
The ColecoVision has been blessed with an active homebrew community, bringing even more games to the already formidable size of its accessible library. This is further enhanced by the similarities between the ColecoVision, MSX, and SG-1000, allowing homebrewers to freely port games between them.
The ColecoVision had a problem with vaporware. Several games which were announced for it never saw release, despite being advertised with screenshots on the console’s box.
All of Coleco’s first-party games, and many of the console’s third-party games, feature a twelve second delay on start up. This is due to a loop in the BIOS. Some companies managed to bypass the BIOS, hence why not all games have this delay.
The size of the console and its power supply has been the subject of numerous complaints across the Internet.
Due to their age, many ColecoVisions have begun to wear down, with issues with controller joysticks, ports, or image troubles. Thankfully these are repairable, but it will take some technical know-how.
Video game collectors used to post-1985 controller designs will likely have an issue becoming comfortable with the ColecoVision’s awkward shape. The numeric keys on the controller also weren’t used very often.
CPU: NEC version of a Zilog Z80A, runs at 3.58 MHz.
Video Display Processor: Texas Instruments TMS9928A. The ColecoVision features a resolution of 256×192, 16 colors, and 32 sprites at a time.
VRAM: 16 KB, RAM: 1 KB, ROM: 8 KB
Sound: Texas Instruments SN76489A, with 3 tone generators and 1 white noise generator.
Cartridge ROM: 8K/16K/24K/32K
ColecoVision and Peripherals Boxes – photo by ClassicVideoGames
Expansion Module #1 enables the owner to play Atari 2600 games on the ColecoVision. Understandably, Atari filed a lawsuit against Coleco over the device but lost.
Expansion Module #2 is a steering wheel and gas pedal controller for use with certain driving games. It included the pack-in game Turbo.
Expansion Module #3 turns the ColecoVision into the Coleco ADAM computer. This unit included a keyboard, printer, and DDP cassette drives. It also included the game Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom, Smart Basic, and a word processor.
The Roller Controller was released with the game Slither. It’s a trackball controller for use with such titles as Wargames.
The Super Action Controllers look like boxing gloves with keypads and joysticks on top. They included the game Super Action Baseball and were usable for later releases, like Super Action Boxing.
Other companies also released a handful of controllers for the ColecoVision, such as Spectravideo’s Quickshot III Deluxe or Suncom’s Joy Sensor.
Personal Peripherals also released a version of their Super Sketch Pad for the ColecoVision. The controller plugged directly into the Sketch Master pack-in cartridge.
ADAM Technical Specs
CPU: NEC version of a Zilog Z80A, runs at 3.58 MHz.
Video Display Processor: Texas Instruments TMS9928A. The Coleco ADAM also features a resolution of 256×192, 16 colors, and 32 sprites at a time.
Sound: Texas Instruments SN76489A, with 3 tone generators and 1 white noise generator.
VRAM: 16 KB, RAM: 64 KB, ROM: 8 KB. The word processor is saved in ROM.
2 Digital Data Drives.
Optional accessories for the Coleco ADAM include a modem and EVE voice module.
photo by davebraco
Emulation and Homebrew
The first ColecoVision homebrew game, a Tetris-clone called Kevtris programmed by Kevin Horton, was released in 1996. The homebrew community continues to thrive, developing new games for both the console and the ADAM computer while also porting over titles from the MSX and SG-1000.
The ColecoVision community also has taken an interest in modding the console, ranging from VGA output and internalizing the power supply to Ben Heck’s ColecoVision handheld and Kevin Horton’s Multi-Cart.
The ColecoVision has been emulated in MESS. Other emulators include the emulator ADAMEm for DOS, the emulator Mission for use on the MSX, and the Java-based Virtual ColecoVision.
Console and handheld-based emulators for the ColecoVision include PSPColem for the PSP, ColecoDS for the Nintendo DS, [D]ColEm for the Dreamcast, as well as other emulators on the Nintendo Wii, Game Boy Advance, GP2X, and others.
www.colecovision.dk is an excellent resource on the ColecoVision, including information about many of the individuals in the homebrew and modding community and their projects.
www.colecovisionzone.com includes information on the console as well as downloadable manuals and technical details on the console and its clones.
It is very easy to get overwhelmed when collecting vintage video games. It can be tempting to attempt to collect full console libraries of games, but sometimes focusing on a certain sub-category of a particular library can often be a more practical (and many times more enjoyable) experience.
This is the first of a series of collecting guides that will focus on a subset of games that are popular with collectors. The launch titles for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) are of particular interest to me, not only for their historical value, but also for their packaging style.
As an added bonus, I also included images and prices for three other games that, while they aren’t launch titles and use silver boxes instead of black boxes, they do use the same pixel art for their covers. They are still pretty cool in my book, so I didn’t want to overlook them.
Personally, I only own a handful of carts for these games, but I hope to collect more – including slowly starting to collect some boxed copies. My motivation for creating this post was actually researching the values of these games in various conditions so I knew what to expect when tracking them down. Knowing which ones are the hardest to find and knowing what is a extra-good deal is very helpful when you stumble upon some in the wild.
After the video game crash in the early 1980’s, Nintendo wanted to take extra precautions when marketing their hardware and games. In addition to naming their console the “Nintendo Entertainment System” to avoid referencing “video games”, they also wanted to be very upfront to consumers what the games would look like.
To make sure gamers weren’t disappointed, Nintendo used pixel art on their covers instead of the more traditional hand-drawn artwork.Even though it was originally intended to avoid getting consumers hopes up about the games, these boxes eventually became iconic pieces of gaming history. More than twenty years later as enthusiasm and nostalgia for retro video games grow, these covers are also viewed as appealing and collectable commercial art.
The Box Art
Since I love the sprite-based artwork, I wanted to round up the best quality scans of the boxes that I could find online and touch them up, so I and anyone else could find them easily. You can click on any of the smaller cover images below to get a large version. These larger versions should be the best you’ll be able to find online. If you know of a better copy, please let me know in the comments below.
10 Yard Fight
Clu Clu Land
Donkey Kong 3
Donkey Kong Jr
Donkey Kong Jr Math
Super Mario Bros
Since values of these games can vary so much depending on condition, I actually have four different price points listed for each game. Of course, the cart-only will be your most affordable option. The “Boxed” value is for a copy with a box that shows some wear (which is easy on these black boxes) that may or may not include the instructions. A “Boxed Mint” copy is one where there is very little wear on the box and instructions are included. And finally, the Sealed prices are for games that have never been opened and are still in their factory shrink wrap. I based these prices on what I have seen in recent months on eBay. If I have not seen particular game in a particular condition, I based the value on another game of similar rarity. I think you’ll find these prices to be rather accurate.
Welcome to the final installment of Together Retro for 2011. It has been a great year for our retro gaming club! We have won the World Series, flown spaceships through enemy fleets, solved murders, competed in an international martial arts tournament, and battled fallen angels. All of this was just a warm-up, however. Now the real challenge begins. Join us this month as we close out the 2011 Together Retro schedule with Sega’s nerve racking masterpiece, Super Monkey Ball.
Somewhere in the offices of Sega, there is a magical dartboard. It is 15 feet wide by 10 feet tall and covered with every noun, adjective, and verb in the dictionary. Occasionally, the executives at Sega take turns throwing multi-colored darts at this board; Whatever the darts land on, it’s up to the game studios to make.
“Fast, Blue, Hedgehog?” Sure, we can do that.
“News reporter, Go-go Boots, and Aliens?” We’re on it!
“Androgynous, Flying, Jester?” You’re pushing your luck but we’ll give it a shot.
Or so it seems, given the types of games Sega makes. In 2001, the creative process known as Sega resulted in a Marble Madness-esque game about monkeys incarcerated within hamster balls with you, the gamer, being given control of the world. Your job is simple: Tilt and spin the world around the monkey and guide him to the goal within the level. The game’s presentation is classic arcade fare: fast paced gameplay with an escalating difficulty level. Sega’s trademark bright colorful graphics and fast paced music bring the game to life.
Super Monkey Ball is a shining example of a party game done well. Each game in the series features a robust single player campaign as well as numerous multi-player modes. In Super Monkey Ball up to four players can compete in three party-game modes: Monkey Fight, an outrageous combat game where players roll their monkeys about, using over-sized punching gloves to knock each other from the playing area. In Monkey Race, players attempt to navigate a level the fastest. In Monkey Target, the players try to guide their Monkeys down a huge ramp, through the air, and onto small islands or targets.
There are also three mini games that are unlocked in the course of playing the main game: Monkey Bowling, Monkey Billiards, and Monkey Golf. Each is an absurd Super Monkey Ball take on the sport and guaranteed to waste plenty of time.
In true “arcadey” fashion, the only control you will need to play Super Monkey Ball is the analog stick. With that single stick you will be able to tilt the world as your monkey races towards his goal, either helping him along or casting him into the void.
The popularity of the original Super Monkey Ball on the Nintendo Gamecube led to a direct sequel, Super Monkey Ball 2, and an entry for the Playstation 2 and Xbox, Super Monkey Ball Deluxe, which contained levels and mini-games from both of the Gamecube titles. The series has since made appearances on a variety of platforms including the Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo Wii, Playstation Portable, iOS, and Nokia N-Gage.
Given the wide range of platforms Super Monkey Ball was released on, it is likely that there is a title available for at least one gaming device in your possession. To participate fully in this month’s Together Retro discussions, you may want to acquire the original Gamecube game or one of the releases based on that game such as Super Monkey Ball Deluxe for either the Playstation 2 or Xbox.
Together Retro Discussion
Instead of posting in the comments section of the blog, we will be using the forum for all of our discussion in order to keep things more organized. So play the Super Monkey Ball game of your choice and talk to us about your thoughts and play experiences in the forums. We want to know about your most exhilarating, gravity defying victories. We also want to know about those soul-crushing moments when your beloved monkey falls into the abyss, never to be seen again.