[I ♥ The PC Engine] Joy Tap 3Posted on July 11th, 2009 3 comments
Joy Tap 3
Maker: Hudson Soft
Release Date: 10/4/88
Price: 1890 yen
One of the chief selling points for the PC Engine near the beginning was its extensive (for the time) multiplayer capabilities. The Famicom had only two controllers, both hard-wired into the system, which meant you were playing 1-on-1 or nothin’. With the PCE and its fancy-pants detachable controllers, you could connect up a Multitap (released simultaneously with the PCE itself) and have up to five pads snaking out of the white system. It was unique enough to still raise eyebrows two years later when the TurboGrafx-16 came out.
The only problem: it took forever for games to come out that took advantage of this. Even Hudson, the PCE’s greatest supporter, didn’t release any decent multiplayer games until mid-1989, starting with Dungeon Explorer and continuing with Momotarō Dentetsu and Bomberman. Meanwhile, looking at the PCE’s early lineup, the only truly multiplayer title is YūYū Jinsei, a board game. If multiplayer was such a major selling point in NEC’s mind, then you have to wonder why titles like Pro Yakyū World Stadium and Power League only supported one-on-one play. And yet, even if you wanted to play your friend in baseball, your only choice was the 5-port Multitap — a major case of overkill.
From the consumer perspective, the request was pretty simple to imagine: “I don’t need five ports, so give me something cheaper!” Thus, Hudson’s Joy Tap 3 — a Multitap with only three controller ports. They could’ve just made it two ports and supported every game available at the time except Pro Tennis World Court, but I suppose giving users three was Hudson’s way of saying “Don’t worry, we’ll think of something for this thing sooner or later.” Dropping two ports made the Joy Tap 3 600 yen cheaper than NEC’s Multitap, which is serious cash if you were a kid saving coins to buy the latest games.
I don’t know how well this accessory sold, but you don’t see many Joy Tap 3’s in modern used-game shops — or, at least, they’re dwarfed by the mountain of five-port Multitaps lying around, indicating that NEC won the retail battle in the long run. Maybe there weren’t many games that supported five people at once, but what about three, huh? It seems like a bit of an odd number, and there’s no way around that.
There are also two-port multitaps out there, including Dempa Shinbunsha’s X-HE2 (which came out not long after this) and the Twin Tap, released in 1992 by Sur de Wave for some reason. There’s also the Battle Tap, a four-port extender. You were nothing if not spoiled for choice in this sector.
A bit of a random question, but I literally JUST bought a PC Engine Duo today and have been trying to figure this out… Do you know if the Kunio Kun Dodgeball game from 1990 supports more than 2 players? I’m guessing not, but I’ve been unable to confirm so online.
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