Tag Archives: old video game

Christians Loved Canada’s Failed Video Game Console


It was October of 2005 in Canada, at the tail end of the original Xbox and Playstation 2’s retail lives. A month before the Xbox 360 was to be released—shipping with flashy titles like the World War II shooter Call of Duty 2—the only home video game console ever to be designed and distributed in Canada, the Game Wave, went to market.

Four years later, in 2009, it was gone.

I came across the Game Wave when I recently visited the home of Syd Bolton, who runs the PC Museum in Brantford, Ontario. Bolton might be best known for his collection of old computers, but he’s really all about video games. Inside his house, he has rooms upon rooms stacked with games. He’s a collector in the truest sense, as some of the things he’s stockpiled aren’t even really valuable: Every original Xbox game ever made, every Wii game ever made, and so on. They’re not classics, but he has them all, and that’s what matters.

Near the end of my visit, Bolton looked at me with a sly grin and said, “Hey, want to see something cool?” Wondering what that could possibly mean to a guy like Bolton, I said yes. What he pulled out was the Game Wave—a glorified silver DVD player that shipped with four remote controls, all snugly nestled inside a soft case emblazoned with the slogan, “Unity Through Play.” Bolton told me that he owns five of these things.

Game Wave was a family-friendly machine, and it was lauded by Christians for its focus on trivia games and competition in good fun. While not explicitly Christian, the Game Wave certainly courted that audience. One of the system’s few games was a Mario Party-esque title featuring characters from the popular Christian media franchise VeggieTales. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, ZAPiT Games, the Canadian makers of the Game Wave console, partnered with Big Idea (which owns VeggieTales) in 2008 to sponsor a tour called “The God Made You Special, Live! Tour.”

Bolton and I played a trivia game that was, in all honesty, kind of fun. It wasn’t anything special in terms of its focus—mostly questions about history and famous people, etc.—but it did feature some impressive CGI interstitials and historical videos to accompany the questions. Learning and playing!

It’s unclear why the Game Wave never made it, although one can probably speculate that it was simply outclassed by every other video game console on the market. It was essentially a DVD player, after all. There’s also the small detail that one of ZAPiT’s former executives, Toronto-area businessman Hari Venkatacharya, was arrested in 2013 and convicted in 2016 for arranging phony company loans in exchange for hefty fees.

All in all, it’s just one more piece of doomed Canadian tech for us to fawn and puzzle over years after it died.

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The Pico Cassette cartridge

Photo/IllutrationThe Pico Cassette cartridge for “Ninja JaJaMaru-kun,” still in development, is plugged into the headphone jack of a smartphone. (Naoyuki Fukuda)

Amid the enduring popularity of the retro games that took the nation by storm in the 1980s, two IT start-up firms are running a crowdfunding campaign to finance an old-school, plug-in gaming system for smartphones.

The firms are now working to develop their first offering, “Ninja JaJaMaru-kun,” for a commercial release probably in November.

The Pico Cassette system is being developed jointly by Tokyo-based Beatrobo Inc. and Sirok Inc. The former has a proven track record for its PlugAir, a physical device that allows access to music and video content stored in the cloud when it is plugged into a smartphone’s headphone jack.

Making use of this technology, the Pico Cassette cartridge establishes a connection to the Internet when it is plugged into a smartphone and allows the user to play an exclusive video game, according to the developers.

“We want to revive video games that linger on in our memories,” said Beatrobo President Hiroshi Asaeda.

“Ninja JaJaMaru-kun” is an action game in which the player controls a ninja boy to destroy enemies with “shuriken” throwing stars. It became a big hit after it was released for a home video game console in 1985.

The target price for a Pico Cassette cartridge is set at 1,980 yen ($18).

The companies are running their campaign on crowdfunding website Makuake to raise a total of 10 million yen to prepare for porting retro games to smartphones and producing cartridges.

The campaign has raised more than 4 million yen so far.

 

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Contra: Evolution Brings The Classic NES Game To iPhone, iPad Today

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One of my favorite NES games as a kid has got to be Contra as there was nothing quite like endlessly shooting anything that moves on screen for countless hours. It looks like a new generation of gamers are about to get their taste of Contra as Konami has just released Contra: Evolution onto iOS devices.

Contra: Evolution is available for both the iPhone and iPad for $0.99 and $2.99 respectively and has been adapted to be played on touchscreen devices. That’s not the only change Contra has received in Contra: Evolution as the game features new levels in what’s being called a reincarnation of the classic game.

Contra: Evolution features a floating joystick by default, but the game is expected to gain native game controller support when iOS 7 arrives later this fall. We’re sure this will be one of the first games you’re going to want to try out once game controllers are support on iOS, and we wouldn’t fault you if you tried the Konami code a few time to see if anything happens.


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