This week has brought us the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, which has been particularly light on gaming goods. It's an opportunity for companies big and small to show off their technology, ranging from expensive high-end gear to slightly quirky or silly 'innovations'. For tech-heads, it's certainly interesting.
Before Nintendo made its big break in the West, though, it attended CES with an early prototype for a home computer - in 1984 it showed off the "Advance Video System" (AVS), below.
Those of you that know your Nintendo history may find this design puzzling, as it was shown a year after the rather cute Famicom design, below, was released in Japan.
The Famicom (which was short for family computer) did eventually have a disc drive extension and a keyboard in Japan, but Nintendo's approach with the AVS was an attempt to connect with Western audiences; the perception was that consumers in the US would be more impressed with a 'techie' product. That first image reinforces that, matching and exceeding the setup of competing systems of the era - tape playing media, a full keyboard, advanced controllers (which were apparently wireless) and a light gun. The reception to it was poor, however, and Nintendo ditched the product having no doubt figured out that following trends elsewhere in the market wasn't the right move.
It's interesting that the NES name - Nintendo Entertainment System - was still an attempt to portray the machine as more than a mere games console. Conceptually the AVS was more of an 'entertainment system', in that sense, but as history's taught us the branding of the NES was a resounding success; it launched Nintendo to the very top of the home console market. History is full of what-ifs, of course, another being what would have happened had Nintendo and Atari done a deal to release a system together before the NES took shape.
It can be fun to speculate what would have been if Nintendo had opted for an 'advanced' and no doubt expensive product in place of the NES - though the home console was pricey in its own way. It's highly likely that the AVS would have done anything but take off in the manner of the NES, so we should probably be relieved that Nintendo made the decision it did.
Image 1 credit: Kotaku