Posted on October 10th, 2009 2 comments
Epoch’s Cassette Vision has the honor of being the first Japanese video game console that allowed for interchangeable cartridges. It’s all but forgotten nowadays, despite selling about 700,000 units in Japan and being the most popular game system by far over there before the Famicom was released. Part of the reason for its original success was price — the system was only 13,500 yen out of the box, super-cheap by 1981 standards, although this is chiefly because the console itself houses hardware only for control, TV output, and so forth. The CPU and memory is inside each cartridge, similar to how Milton Bradley’s Microvision worked.
Despite coming out after the Atari 2600, the Cassette Vision is arguably less powerful, busting out a palette of only 8 colors and a killer resolution of 54×62 pixels. One odd quirk of the hardware is that these pixels could optionally be displayed in the form of right triangles — “half pixels,” as it were — and that’s why you see oddly smooth diagonals in the above video.
The video shows Kikori no Yosaku, a launch title that was probably the CV’s most well-known game. The object, as you’ll probably figure out quick, is to chop down both trees, dodging snakes, wild boars, bird crap, and “things” that fall out of the tree canopies. Depending on the game type, you’re either trying to score big points and survive as long as possible, or chop down the trees in as little time as you can.
YouTube has a lot of Cassette Vision stuff these days and I’d like to explore the console a little more in-depth in the future. The extremely odd design of the system means there’s still no real emulator for it.