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  • Computer TV Game (Nintendo, April 1980)

    Posted on March 21st, 2011 keving 3 comments

    Almost assuredly the worst-selling game console Nintendo ever made. That may perhaps be part of the reason a nearly new-in-box example recently sold for 242,000 yen on Yahoo! Auctions JP.

    Computer TV Game was a home port of Computer Othello, Nintendo’s first ever fully-electronic video game for arcades. Calling it a “port” is perhaps charitable, because the innards of the home console are the exact same as the arcade cabinet — Intel 8080 processor, specialized graphics chip from Mitsubishi Electric, small program ROM, and an enormous AC adapter that weighs over four pounds. Like the title suggests, it’s a video version of Othello, with one- and two-player options and a pair of CPU difficulty levels to choose from. The arcade version (which originally came out in mid-1978) has a strict time limit of 400 seconds, but you can play as many games as you want during that time.

    Video Othello was a bit novel compared to the ocean of Pong consoles on store shelves at the time, but because Nintendo simply stuffed the arcade hardware into a plastic box (a package, by the way, which was designed by Shigeru Miyamoto — he was originally hired by Nintendo as an industrial-arts guy), the thing was expensive. Really expensive. The retail price for the dedicated system was 48,000 yen, about $190 in 1980 dollars, at a time when the Atari 2600 was available across America for about half that. Even among the murky history of Nintendo’s pre-FC video games, this is one incredibly obscure device.

    Here’s how Computer Othello looks in action, by the way. Sorry I can’t find a better video, but if I were you, I’d just be glad there were any extant examples left, period.

    All in all, I think Epoch’s TV Baseball Game is a much better package.


    2 responses to “Computer TV Game (Nintendo, April 1980)” RSS icon

    • I like Othello, but I can’t get too excited about Computer Othello.

      On the other hand, if we see Computer Othello as a pioneer in bringing arcade hardware (and thus an “unadulterated arcade exoerience”) into the living room, then it clearly is a precursor to SNK’s NeoGeo 🙂

      Computer TV Game, the NeoGeo of its era.

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