Saturday, April 9, 2011

Nintendo Color TV-Game 6 (カラー テレビゲーム 6, 1977)

The year 1977 marks an historic moment for Nintendo, as it is the year in which they created the first video game for home use; aptly called Color TV-Game 6 and Color TV-Game 15, they are the first two machines in the Color TV-Game series.

Though commercially successful, and thus providing the incentive to continue in this business direction, the release of Color TV-Game 6 and Color TV-Game 15 was a modest first step in the sense that the game ideas did not originate from Nintendo itself. A license to produce these pong-style games was obtained from Magnavox. Technical expertise needed to manufacture these machines was obtained through a partnership with Mitsubishi Electronic.

Nintendo Color TV-Game 6 (1977)

Clearly sprouting from the TV tennis family-tree, which started with the Magnavox Odyssey and was turned into a household name ("Pong") by Atari, Color TV-Game 6 (カラー テレビゲーム 6) is a dedicated game console that offers six variants on the bat-a-light-blip-from-left-to-right-and-back-again type of game play.


Though not very original, the Color TV-Game 6 provided exactly what the public was looking for at the time, in a quality package, for the right price.


(Video uploaded by YouTube user mushmaster)

The retail price of ¥9,800 for the Color TV-Game 6 was very appealing, as all competitive offers at the time sported much higher price tags. This was a big factor in the success of Color TV-Game 6.

The first video game to bear the Nintendo brand name

The Color TV-Game 6 actually offers only three different game types. But each of these can be played in two different modes, which brings the total to six games.

The three game types are hockey (ホッケー), volley ball (バレーボール) and tennis (テニス). Each of these can be played in singles mode (シングルス) or doubles mode (ダブルズ).

The six game variants are described on the side of the box

All six games are two player games. Each player operates one of the two controllers (analog paddles) attached to the Color TV-Game 6. In singles mode each player controls a single "racket" on screen. In doubles mode each player controls two "rackets" simultaneously.

Throughout 1977, four versions of the Color TV-Game 6 were released, although there are only two truly different variants. Furthermore, one isn't an actual Nintendo product, but was released by Sharp as we will see below.

The bottom game is the CTG-6S, others are CTG-6V variants

The first release of Color TV-Game 6 can be recognized by its off-white color housing and box. It listens to the name CTG-6S.

The original Color TV-Game 6 (CTG-6S)

Manual of the Color TV-Game 6 version CTG-6S

Soon after the release of the CTG-6S, an improved version of the Color TV-Game 6 named CTG-6V was released. This second version was produced in much larger quantities, and, as a result, is much more common today.

Manual of the Color TV-Game 6 version CTG-6V

The game-play of CTG-6S and CTG-6V versions is identical, but there are some physical differences between the two machines. The most obvious is the color of the housing; the off-white being replaced by bright orange.

The second release of Color TV-Game 6 (CTG-6V)

If we place them side-by-side, it becomes also immediately apparent that the controllers of the CTG-6V are bigger than those of its predecessor, offering a better grip.

Another improvement related to the controllers is the introduction of a "stop" at the top and the bottom of the screen. The controller of the original CTG-6S could be turned endlessly; when the "racket" disappeared at the bottom or top of the screen, it would reappear at the other end, making it hard to position the racket during frantic play. With the new CTG-6V, the "racket" comes to a stop at the top and bottom borders of the screen, providing a more realistic interpretation of the tennis game.

Color TV-Game 6 CTG-6S (bottom) and CTG-6V (top)

Another difference between CTG-6S and CTG-6V is the way the system can be powered. The machines require 9V DC, which can be provided by placing 6 C cells in the battery compartment at the bottom.

"Feed me" this battery compartment says

For the CTG-6S, using batteries is the only option. The CTG-6V introduces the option to use a power adapter instead, for which a connector is included in the back. A dedicated power adapter (model CTGA-901A) was separately available for ¥1,500. This adapter was compatible with all other Color TV-Games.

A sight that makes the Energizer Bunnies cry: the power adapter connector of the CTG-6V

The Color TV-Game 6 does not feature the Nintendo name on its housing, using "Color TV-Game" as its brand identify. The manual and box include the Nintendo name, but not very prominent.


Besides the six game variants, the game-play can be influenced with some additional settings that change the size of the players "rackets" as well as the level of acceleration of the ball when it hits the "racket".

The switches used to select game type, game mode and some other options

The four switches at the top of the control panel are: racket size of left and right player (up is small, down is big), speed after bounce on the racket (up is high, down is low) and game mode selection (up is doubles, down is singles).

The three switches at the bottom of the control panel are: power switch (up is on, down is off), reset button and game type selection (volley ball, tennis, hockey).


Maybe they work for some people, but I find the diagrams in the manual explaining the various types of game-play quite confusing. They remind me of text books on nuclear physics.

Game-play explained or Feynman diagrams?

A special version of the Color TV-Game 6 was produced for food company House Foods to promote their instant noodles product House Shanmen (ハウスシャンメン). Instant noodles? Yes, instant noodles.

The rare House Shanman version of Color TV-Game 6

The House Shanman version of Color TV-Game 6 is identical to the regular CTG-6V, except for the metal name plate on the top, which in this case shows the noodles brand name.

A closer look at the rare House Shanman version of the Color TV-Game 6

I reckon a lot of instant noodles had to be consumed before one became eligible for this machine. They are quite rare and difficult to find these days.

"Thank you for buying this many noodles"

Another interesting variant of the Color TV-Game 6 are the versions licensed to Sharp. Sharp produced TVs and bought licenses for video game consoles to sell with their TV sets.

Sharp would continue to license Nintendo's subsequent systems: Famicom (Sharp Famicom Titler AN510 and 14C-C1F and 19C-C1F TVs), Famicom Disk System (Sharp Twin Famicom AN-500R, AN-500B, AN-505-BK and AN-505-RD) and Super Famicom (Sharp 14G-SF1 and 21G-SF1 TVs).

One of the two Sharp licensed versions of the Color TV-Game 6

As is the case for Nintendo's own model, there are two versions of the Sharp's licensed Color TV-Game 6. There is a version based on CTG-6S as well as one based on the CTG-6V. The Sharp product codes are, respectively, XG-106 and XG-106V. Both are identical to their Nintendo counterpart, except for the different color housing (which is a darker orange) and the Sharp branding on box and console. They also are simply called Color TV-Game, dropping the "6" from the name.

The manual of a Sharp version of Color TV-Game 6

The Color TV-Game 6 and Color TV-Game 15 were the first time people connected a Nintendo produced "box" to their TV set to play some games. We now know it wouldn't be the last time. Almost thirty-five years and multiple generations of ever improving, multi-million selling Nintendo video game consoles on, we can reflect on this moment as the beginning of something very, very big.

10 comments:

  1. Are the nintendo pong consoles for sale?

    My email is Johny_lovin_it@yahoo.com

    Please let me know. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. i would like to know if there are for sale as well? there beautiful.

    zanesc@me.com

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  3. Hi Johny and Zane,

    I do not have any of these consoles for sale, but you can track them down on the regular auction sites. They do pop-up every now and then on eBay, but are more frequently offered on the Japanse auction site of Yahoo (no real surprise, for items originally sold only in Japan).

    Just check the following link.

    You will need a Yahoo account to bid, but there are services out there that act as intermediary. Do a google search on proxy bidding.

    Good luck!

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  4. Hello Erik V !

    I search a Sharp XG-106V on yahoo, but no found !

    This color tv game is very rare ?

    Thank you, best regards from France

    Fred

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Fred. Yes, the Sharp XG-106V indeed is quite rare. You may need to search for a while (possibly a few months) before you find one.

    ReplyDelete
  6. There is a Sharp XG-106 too. It doesn't have the power supply connector.

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    Replies
    1. That's interesting. Was not aware of hat before. Do you have a picture of it?

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    2. Oh wait. I just spotted the picture of the Sharp TV Game 6 in the "History of Nintendo, vol 1" book is of a XG-106 (indeed, without a "V"). Had not spotted that before! Thanks. Will update he post with this information.

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    3. Glad you liked it. :)

      I do have a picture, in fact I own one. http://img.tradera.com/images/588/156088588_1.jpg

      I am looking for a Japanese VCR so I can play it here in Europe....

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    4. Just updated the post with your info. Thanks again fro pointing this out. Now I will have to find one myself! :-)

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