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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nintendo Color TV-Game 15 (カラー テレビゲーム 15, 1977)

When Nintendo entered the home video game market in Japan in 1977, they did so with two Pong based TV tennis games, co-developed with Mitsubishi: the Color TV-Game 6 and its bigger brother (sister?) Color TV-Game 15.

Advertisement for TV-Game 6 and TV-Game 15

The circuitry inside TV-Game 6 and TV-Game 15 was very similar (their main chip was actually identical), but the latter came with detached controllers and provided more game options: fifteen to be precise (obviously).

Nintendo released two versions of TV-Game 15 (again, just like TV-Game 6).

Nintendo TV Game 15 CTG-15S Manual

The first release had an orange colored box and orange housing with a black base. It had product code CTG-15S.

Nintendo Color TV-Game 15 (CTG-15S, 1977)

At launch, TV-Game 15 retailed for ¥15,000.

This was a clever price-point above the ¥9,800 for the TV-Game 6. For only 50% more, you got more than double the game options as well as more sophisticated and user-friendly controllers.

Never mind that TV-Game 6 was artificially crippled, as it contained the same main IC inside, with all fifteen game options available in principle, but only exposing six.

For whatever reason, at this time Nintendo did not yet feel a need to stamp their company name on the front of the console, keeping it to simply "Color TV-Game 15". It wasn't until the 1979 release of Color TV Game Block Kuzushi that they first displayed their name prominently on a video game.

TV-Game 15 came with two controllers that connected to the console with 90 cm long cords.

The housing of TV-Game 15 was more exciting than it's smaller brother's box-shape. It had a nice futuristic curve, with vanity cooling fins.

On both ends of the console, bays are included to store the controllers. A slight protrusion keeps the controller in place.

The controllers fit nicely in the palm of your hands, and have a good-sized turning knob for manoeuvring the virtual 'rackets'.

The fifteen game options of the TV-Game 15 are listed on the side of the box.

You select the desired game option with the eight-position slider on the right side of the control panel together with the switch next to it on the top row. This switch selects between singles (シングルス) and doubles (ダブルシ) play.

The eight positions of the slider are:
  • Tennis A (テニスA)
  • Tennis B (テニスB)
  • Volley A (バレーA)
  • Volley B (バレーB)
  • Hockey A (ホッケーA)
  • Hockey B (ホッレーB)
  • Ping Pong (ピンポン)
  • Shooting Game (射撃ゲーム)
All of these options, except the last one, can be played in either singles or doubles mode. This results in the fifteen game variants (7x2 + 1) that give TV-Game 15 its name.

Additional switches allow the size of the rackets (ラケットサイズ) to be set to small or large (for left and right player independently) and the ball speed (ボールスペード) to be set to slow or fast.

The manual explains the game play for all eight positions of the slider. In singles mode each player has a single racket. In doubles mode each player has two rackets that move simultaneously.

The difference between the 'A' and 'B' variants is the shape of the center line (which affects game play).

TV-Game 15 runs on six 'C' type batteries (also called 'UM-2' size in Japan) as well as on a separately available 9V adapter (model number CTGA-901R).

Television sets in the 1970s only had one input connector. They were designed to take a single signal from an aerial or antenna, not from additional (game) devices. Because of this, a so-called 'RF switch' was usually provided with these early video games. This allowed the game and the antenna to be connected to the TV set at the same time, with the switch controlling which signal was passed through.

RF switch provided with TV-Game 15

A three-month warranty was provided with the purchase of every console in the Color TV-Game range.

Warranty card for TV Game 15 #2035205 sold on 昭和52年8月30日

Soon after the first release of TV-Game 15, an improved version was created. A simliar update was also available for TV-Game 6.

This new version of TV-Game 15 had product code CTG-15V.

The CTG-15V box and console were of a dark orange color, which is close to red.

Of the two versions, the CTG-15V had the longest production run. As a result, it is easier to find than the CTG-16S these days.

The initial price for this TV-Game 15 was also ¥15,000.

However, over time this price was reduced, when other, more sophisticated games became available.

Nintendo Color TV-Game 15 (CTG-15V, 1977) and CTGA-901R adapter

The packaging was slightly redesigned, and the game variants displayed more prominently on the side of the box.

Except of the obvious color difference, from the outside the TV-Game 15 CTG-15S and CTG-15V are almost identical.

The control panel and game options remained the same.

The main difference between CTG-15S and CTG-15V is in the controllers.

The knob of the CTG-15V controllers is slightly bigger, and - most importantly - had a 'stop' that allowed it to be turned only one turn left or right (while the knob of the CTG-15S could be turned endlessly). This provided better control of the racket on the screen, as the knob would stop when the racket reached the top or bottom of the screen.

Controllers of CTG-15V (left) and CTG-15S (right)

Besides the two Nintendo branded TV-Game 15 versions, a third variant exists.

This version is called Color TV-Game XG-115 (カラー テレビゲーム XG-115). 

It was produced by Nintendo and licensed to television manufacturer Sharp (シャープ), who sold it under their own brand name.

Sharp Color TV-Game XG-115 (1977)

Sharp also licensed the Color TV-Game 6 (called the Sharp XG-106V). As a partner of Nintendo, they would license many more Nintendo consoles in later years.

The Sharp XG-115 is based on the Nintendo CTG-15V.

Besides the different branding and difference in color (the orange was replaced by white), the Sharp version game is identical to the Nintendo TV-Game 15.

One additional small difference is the label on the controller. The controllers of the Nintendo version have an English label ("controller"), while Sharp figured the Japanese market was better served with a Japanese language label ("コントローラー"). Why it is necessary to label a controller in the first place, is another matter altogether.

All three TV Game 15 versions

Check out this previous post for an overview of the Color TV-Game series.

A service manual for the TV-Game 15 can be found here, and a brochure here.


  1. Fanatstic! Thank you very much for this post. I have both the CTG-15S & CTG-15V, but I never knew that Sharp also put out a version. Now I have to keep an eye out for one! I do have the Sharp XG 106V though.

  2. Great post!

    Very important to note, everybody, that if you turn on the more-common version of the Color TV Game 15 and find no paddle on the screen, you just have to turn the knob! ;)

  3. Simon - good luck with your hunt! It will be difficult, but not impossible.

    Sean - finding that solution to this unworldly nagging problem must have been a life-changing moment. Its the kind of stuff that forms characters as well as defines relationships. Man vs machine. Man vs woman.

  4. For some odd reason, Nintendo decided to make this game into an assist trophy in Super Smash Bros 4. I'm surprised this page hasn't been getting more attention!

  5. I hope I'm not late to the party (seeing as it's been 2 1/2 years since it's been updated) but I'm trying to compile as much information about these games as I can, because I intend to make an emulation of the Color TV Games. The best way to do this is by looking at manuals, screenshots of various games, etc. Everything needs to be perfect though, in order for this to work. I hope it isn't too much to ask for some screenshots of the games in the Color TV series, along with complete scans of the manuals?
    Thanks in advance, Skylar

    1. Hi Skylar. I am sorry, but can't help you out with any other material than what's already on the blog. If you want to create an emulation, I would say you need access to the actual hardware to replicate the exact gameplay (timing etc). Have you considered this?

  6. How can I connect this into modern tvs? A led, lcd, or plasma? Any hints?

    1. Good question, but I am no expert in that area. Sorry.

      I play these on a Japanse TV with RF-in from the same time, so I can connect them as is.

  7. Amazing post! But some photos aren't available, can you reupload them please? Thanks, keep it going.

    1. Thanks! I can't see any issue with the images. Can you try once more?

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