We have covered the development of new content for old arcade hardware before but it isn’t something that we come across very often. With a large selection of arcade boards to choose from, interested developers certainly have a wide variety of choices to develop for although it remains a niche market at best.
The Nintendo Playchoice-10
If you were a child of the 80s and are reading this blog, then the PlayChoice series of arcade cabinets needs no introduction. If you came along later then here’s a quick summary. Playchoice was a somewhat sneaky way for Nintendo to promote their NES home console to the masses and giving it true arcade machine ‘street cred’. Home consoles that could produce “arcade-quality” graphics and content used to be a big deal to what better way to get that perception out into the wild than to make your console into a bona-fide arcade machine. The Playchoice-10 in particular allowed one arcade cabinet to house up to 10 titles; there were a few other variations on it as well. The games were conversions of NES games that sometimes had some changes to the game but either way allowed you to experience said title without having to invest into an NES and the games. In a way, it was kind of like a rental for 25¢.
With a busy community of “homebrew” developers, there is no lack of new content being created for the ol’ NES but due to costs and hardware, making the jump to the PC seems to be uncommon. The Playchoice itself has enjoyed some mods that allow you to play some releases from back-in-the-day on the platform at least but now thanks to Membler Industries, the amount of new content might be ready to expand.
With that out of the way, let’s cover the new software. Recently, a Kickstarter was launched for a Robotron-like twin stick shooter for an NES game. Called Spook-O-Tron, the title sums it up well – it’s essentially Robotron with a Halloween theme to it. It even uses two gamepads to work, one for movement, one for firing independently of the direction you are facing. It also has a level editor and thanks to a successful funding campaign, will be available on cartridge to play on your NES if you still have one. The developer anticipates shipments to hit around October of this year.
Then there is the hardware side(pictured above). The campaign stated that if it reached a goal of $8000 that a version would be released for Playchoice-10 arcade cabinets. Since it reached $10k, that goal was comfortably passed and the designer of both the NES cart and the PC-10 cart is looking into what interest there is for this out there as this could lead to further PC-10 releases. According to ‘Memblers’ on the KLOV Forums:
I’m the guy that has designed the board used in the NES version, and the Playchoice version as well. I’m hoping to help facilitate more new Playchoice releases, but this is an extremely niche market. If anyone is interested in new Playchoice games, let me know and that might help me convince some developers.
A couple notes:
My PC10 boards are compatible with the factory original PC10 BIOS and include instruction screens.
I’m not making bootleg or repro games of any kind.
I’m not sure how many Playchoice cabinets are still out there but I imagine that there are enough that could support these efforts as long as the games are interesting and owners know about it. It would certainly help bring something fresh to retrocades who maybe want something new while maintaining their desire to only offer hardware from the 80s.
What are your thoughts on Spook-O-Tron coming to PC-10? Are there any old arcade boards you’d like to see fresh content on (I’m surprised we haven’t really seen that for Sega hardware like the NAOMI/Atomiswave…or there was Mega-Tech, Sega’s answer to the Playchoice)? What kind of games would you like to see if developments continue in this regard?