Wednesday, July 6, 2011

PlayChoice-10: Nintendo's Lazy Man's Approach to Competing in the Arcades in the 80's

I was having a chat today about arcades in the 80's and the subject of the PlayChoice-10 came up.  To my astonishment, the individual I was chatting with had no memory of the PlayChoice-10.  Following up with others, and to my displeasure, I found some gamers have no recollection of what an arcade is outside of a place to drink beer and play Skeeball.  

Arcades in the 80's and early 90's were a staple for gamers as they were a place where we would play games that appeared graphically and phonically better than games we would play on our home console or computer.  But, these also would cost money.

It is no mystery that Nintendo ruled the home console world in the 80's with the NES.  But, they had stopped with their arcade games by the mid-80's thus leaving a glaring hole in their revenue stream.  Contrary to what 80's movies would want you to believe, arcades were not just for the geeks of the world.  Arcades were a place where teenagers would go to hang out since they were one of the few places you didn't have to be over the age of 21 to be allowed in.  Arcades on a Friday and Saturday night were generally packed and not just by a bunch of guys wearing thick glasses and pocket protectors.

To make up for the fact that Nintendo had exited the arcade market they came out with the PlayChoice-10 which would literally play NES games at the arcade.  In a nutshell, they basically took the same specs from the NES and added some bells and whistles and put the machine in the arcade.

One of said bells and whistles was the time limit.  Per credit, $.25, you would get five minutes of play time.  Adding quarters gave you more time.

Also, there was a second monitor so that you could get tips for each game.  For any seasoned NES player, the tips were pretty much useless but a nice perk seeing as you were just playing NES games where there were better games available to play.  For example, you could play Double Dragon on the NES via PlayChoice-10 or you could walk five feet and play the arcade version which the NES version pales in comparison.

However, the PlayChoice-10 did have some perks.  You could potentially try some NES games for a quarter instead of making the purchase, getting it home, and finding out the game sucked.  Even rentals were usually $2 or $3.  Also, it gave an opportunity to show off you skills for your friends.  It was nice playing the games using arcade controllers.  But, for me, the biggest perk was that I could easily spend a dollar and kill 20 minutes when I was running out of money playing Super Mario Bros. when I knew my ride wouldn't be there for awhile.

Here is the list of games that were available.  A couple of them standout as interesting choices, like Metroid.  Who would sit there and feed quarters to play Metroid?  It would cost you $50+ to beat the whole thing.  Also, there is a certain level of irony that you would pay to play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game in an arcade where there was actually Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, the arcade game.

A couple of questions for those who remember the PlayChoice-10, did the Contra code work for PlayChoice-10 (I have a shaky memory that I tried it and it did)?  Also, would passwords work for games like Goonies?  Finally, did they replace Mike Tyson's Punch Out with just Punch Out?  Please comment here or shoot me a message on Twitter if you know the answer to any of these

1942 (1986 Capcom)
Balloon Fight (1985 Nintendo)
Baseball (1985 Nintendo)
Baseball Stars (1989 SNK)
Captain Skyhawk (1990 Milton Bradley)
Castlevania (1987 Konami)
Contra (1988 Konami)
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers (1990 Capcom)
Double Dragon (1988 Technos)
Double Dribble (1987 Konami)
Dr. Mario (1990 Nintendo)
Duck Hunt (1985 Nintendo)
Excitebike (1985 Nintendo)
Fester's Quest (1989 Sunsoft)
Gauntlet (1985 Atari)
Golf (1985 Nintendo)
The Goonies (1986 Konami)
Gradius (1986 Konami)
Hogan's Alley (1985 Nintendo)
Kung Fu (1985 Irem)
Mario Bros. (1984 Nintendo)
Mario's Open Golf (1991 Nintendo)
Mega Man 3 (1990 Capcom)
Metroid (1986 Nintendo)
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (1987 Nintendo)
Ninja Gaiden (1989 Tecmo)
Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (1990 Tecmo)
Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom (1991 Tecmo)
Pinbot (1990 Rare)
Power Blade (1991 Taito)
Pro Wrestling (1987 Nintendo)
Rad Racer (1987 Square)
Rad Racer II (1990 Square)
RBI Baseball (1987 Atari)
R.C. Pro-Am (1988 Rare)
Rockin' Kats (1991 Atlus)
Rush'n Attack (1987 Konami)
Rygar (1987 Tecmo)
Shatterhand (1991 Jaleco)
Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship (1990 Rare)
Super C (1990 Konami)
Super Mario Bros. (1985 Nintendo)
Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988 Nintendo)
Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990 Nintendo)
Tecmo Bowl (1989 Tecmo Inc.)
Tennis (1985 Nintendo)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989 Konami)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (1990 Konami)
Track & Field (1987 Konami)
Trojan (1987 Capcom)
Volleyball (1987 Nintendo)
Wild Gunman (1985 Nintendo)
World Cup Soccer (1990 Technos)
Yo! Noid (1990 Capcom)

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