Category Archives: Retro Video Games

Action Max Video Game System

Action Max Video Game System

Action Max Video Game System

The 1987 Worlds of Wonder Action Max video game was a revolutionary and short-lived "live action" VCR-based system. It allowed you to shoot at moving targets that play on a videotape through your television set. From the makers of the original Lazer Tag, the technology in Action Max seems to work the same way. A red light sensor, similar to the Lazer Tag Star Sensor, is stuck directly on the corner of the television screen to read where you are pointing and shooting the light gun. As you hit targets, the sensor lights up and the red LED counter on the Action Max game console goes up by one point. When you hit "civilian" or "friendly" targets, the score goes down by one point. The console has a built-in speaker that plays gunshots, ricochet sounds, and an ominous computerized voice that says, "Target Hit". Headphones and a special cord that connects from the VCR's or television's rca audio outputs into the console were included. These allowed you to hear Action Max in stereo without bothering others (aside from the click click clicking sound of the light gun and your shouts of frustration).

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Texas Instruments TI-99/4A Home Computer

Texas Instruments TI-99/4A

Finding this circa 1983 Texas Instruments TI-99/4A home computer was a true blast from the past for me, as it was the first home computer / video game system I used as a kid. This one includes the PHP1500 Speech Synthesizer and manual, original AC power cord and RF television connector, comprehensive "User's Reference Guide" full of TI-BASIC programs, and six game cartridges (excuse me, "command modules"). Module titles include Addition and Subtraction 1 and 2, Learning Fun, Scott Adams' Adventure, and Reading Fun and Speech Editor, which both include their instruction manuals. After hooking it up, I was pretty shocked to watch it crank right up and start running after 30 years of neglect! It still works perfectly without a glitch, and  its a really fun trip back to 30 years ago. Using the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A reminded me of the countless times I threw my joystick at it when playing TI Invaders or flipping out when the power went out after typing about 50 lines of BASIC! Scroll down for some screenshots!

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TRS-80 Computer

TRS-80

I was introduced to computers in the second grade, and the TRS-80 was the first computer used by myself and countless others of my generation. This is the original Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I computer (Tandy Radio Shack is where the TRS-80 got its name). The unit shown has a stamped manufacturing date of April, 1979. The TRS-80 computer keyboard casing contains the Zilog Z80 computer processor, and the keyboard itself is a full-size model with classic QWERTY style layout (not even considered a feature on modern computers, but a big selling point back in 1977!). Check out this short video of our TRS-80 running the classic Termites BASIC program!

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NEC TurboGrafx 16

retro video games

NEC TurboGrafx 16 Video Game System

 

NEC TurboGrafx 16

This NEC Turbo Grafx 16 retro video game system is missing its instruction manual, but is otherwise complete in the box with console, Turbo Pad controller, RF adaptor, power supply, and the Keith Courage in Alpha Zones TurboChip Game Card.

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Nintendo NES R.O.B. Robotic Operating Buddy

nintendo ROB robot

Nintendo NES ROB Robotic Operating Buddy

This was my R.O.B. Robotic Operating Buddy from the first North American Nintendo Entertainment System Deluxe Set, which included the Gyromite and Duck Hunt game cartridges. This is the video game system that single-handedly rescued the home video game industry from complete stagnation and alarming disinterest from the American consumer. One of its key marketing tools was the R.O.B. Robotic Operating Buddy, one of the weirdest and most clever game controllers ever designed. Known as "Family Computer Robot" in Japan, R.O.B. was controlled remotely via strobe-like flashing signals on your TV, which were triggered by pressing a combination of buttons on your NES control pad. These flashing signals (which seem suspiciously seizure-inducing) make R.O.B. move a gyroscope to the "charging station", which makes it spin super fast. R.O.B. then picks up and drops the gyro onto a platform that holds the second game pad, triggering either the A or B button. It is a strange and fun way to play video games, but, sadly, Nintendo developed only two games for poor R.O.B. He was quickly discontinued, but persists as a recognizable mascot of retro video games and cult Nintendo fans. I got this system on Christmas Day, 1985. He has been sitting on a shelf since 1986. Sadly, I misplaced his trigger platform, which holds the game pad. Otherwise, he seems to still be in good working condition. I put batteries in him and when powered on, he turns to the right and then returns back to center, ready to accept commands. The gyro spinner works perfectly, spinning the gyroscopes ridiculously fast. That is the extent of my testing, as I don't have either of the games that activate him, but he was working perfectly when he became a display piece. R.O.B. is still in good cosmetic condition, showing only minor wear. He sold and was shipped to Australia, but you can find plenty of ROB's below, including his original game cartridges and even some spare parts you probably lost sometime in the last 25 years (like me!).

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Pac-Man Books

1980s pac-man book

This 1980s vintage Pac-Man book from 1983 is a Little Golden Book based not on the retro video game, but on the obscure Pac-Man cartoon. I actually watched every single episode of this short lived cartoon when it originally ran, and was, admittedly, pretty excited when I found this at a yard sale. This Pac-Man book is titled Pac-Man and the Ghost Diggers, an 8 inches x 8 inches book containing 24 full-color pages with faithfully illustrated images of Pac-Man, Ms. Pepper, Pac-Baby and the Ghost Monsters Blinky, Pinky, Inky, Clyde, and Sue. Now here’s a weird bit of trivia for you old-school comic book fans…this “kids” Pac-Man book was written by John Albano, creator of the totally awesome Jonah Hex comic book, and the book was illustrated by John Costanza, who lettered Alan Moore-era Swamp Thing comics and did lots of kids comics like Heathcliff, Get Along Gang, and even the Simpsons. This Pac-Man book was used and had three child's mazes that were respectfully completed in crayon, but had no other markings and no ripped or missing pages. It sold and was shipped somewhere overseas, but check below for more authentic retro '80s Pac-Man books, and scroll down for a few example illustrations from this one.

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The Air Raid Video Game Cartridge for Atari 2600

air raid video game

The Air Raid video game cartridge is considered by many to be the holy grail of the Atari 2600 game library. Manufactured by some fly-by-night company called Menavision, the Air Raid video game is a bizarre Space Invaders-type shooting game in which the player protects his cities from helicopters, spaceships, planes, rockets, flying saucers…basically a bunch of electronic garbage falling from the sky. It is one of the rarest retro video game cartridges in existence. Some say it came from Canada, others say Mexico. It has even been proclaimed that no one really knows the game is actually titled "Air Raid" or that it was made by "Menavision", as the only person in print to have claimed to own the game and box died some years back. There are as few as five and as many as twelve copies known to exist. We came across our copy at a yard sale, stuck in one of three shoeboxes full of random Atari 2600, 7800, and Sears Telegames cartridges. We were a little unenthusiastic in purchasing them, as we did not have an Atari console to play or test the games. However, it was a slow day, and that weird t-shaped blue cartridge in the box was really intriguing to us. Needless to say, we were absolutely shocked when a few minutes of internet research revealed what we had found. We had to test the game, so we combed the classifieds and called every Game Stop in the Atlanta area until we found an old Atari 2600 rainbow wedge for $45.00. We turned it on, and the game jumped right to the start screen (there was no title screen, which explains the argument over the game title and manufacturer). However, a title screen does exist, and we discovered that if the console power switch is toggled on and off, you can see a split-second flash of the title screen with the Air Raid title and the word Men-a-Vision.

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