Following the success of the Atari 2600 in the late 70s, numerous companies were vying for a share of the video game market, releasing their own home gaming consoles to captivate players worldwide. As a result, the second generation of consoles had a huge number of lesser-known devices that are almost forgotten today. Fortunately, the Internet has allowed enthusiast groups to band together and bring these consoles back to life through emulation.
Amigan Software is one such enthusiast project that has gathered a treasure trove of information about Signetics-based machines and created the WinArcadia emulator to allow others to share in their passion. Additionally, WinArcadia now supports achievements for the Arcadia 2001, Interton VC 4000, and Elektor TV Games Computer!
The Interton VC 4000 was introduced by the German company Interton Electronic in 1978. As the only microprocessor-controlled game console available in Germany at the time, it had moderate popularity there, while remaining relatively unknown in other markets. The software developed for this system was compatible with other consoles marketed in Europe allowing the games to have more widespread success.
The Elektor TV Games Computer was next on the market courtesy of Elektor Magazine. The magazine featured information on how to build the computer, order parts, and games that could be purchased directly via mail order. Early games were delivered on vinyl records until 1980 when they switched to cassette tapes. Interestingly, some games for the Elektor TV Games Computer were never officially published by Elektor but were archived decades later when the author shared these unreleased games with the community in 2010.
Perhaps the most interesting of the three consoles is the Arcadia 2001. Emerson Radio Corp., primarily known for its electronics and consumer appliances, sought to enter the burgeoning video game market. The Arcadia 2001 was released in 1982, with the intent to capture the attention of gamers by offering an affordable and versatile gaming system. With over 70 titles available, the console boasted a diverse range of genres, including action, sports, racing, and arcade classics. Many of these titles were clones of popular arcade games, which was very common for the generation. Unfortunately, this also proved to be a major issue for the company, as Atari started to sue console manufacturers over the use of unlicensed clones, requiring the company to delay the release of the console until their games could be altered enough to avoid copyright infringement.
Despite strong competition, the Arcadia 2001 did manage to find a niche audience in some markets while in other markets, the console became bargain bin fodder. The console also had many clones sold globally, including one sold by Bandai in Japan, along with 4 exclusive titles based on popular manga of the time. However, the Arcadia 2001’s middling success was short-lived. Only a year after it launched, the video game industry experienced a crash, resulting in a decline in sales for many gaming companies. Emerson Radio Corp. faced financial difficulties, and the Arcadia 2001 was ultimately discontinued in 1983.
Today, these consoles hold a nostalgic charm for collectors and enthusiasts of retro gaming. It serves as a reminder of a time when gaming was still in its infancy and consoles were emerging in various shapes and forms. Despite their relatively brief lifespan and limited success, these consoles are a great representation of an era filled with experimentation and competition, where numerous companies entered the market, striving to carve out their own space. The stumbling blocks experienced by these companies would help pave the road for success when the video game market recovered in 1985 with the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System.
For more information about these consoles, check out the Amigan Software website at http://amigan.yatho.com/