Dedicated console

Last updated

A dedicated console is a video game console that is limited to one or more built-in video game or games, and is not equipped for additional games that are distributed via ROM cartridges, discs, downloads or other digital media. Dedicated consoles were very popular in the first generation of video game consoles until they were gradually replaced by second-generation video game consoles that use ROM cartridges.



Most of the earliest home video game systems were dedicated consoles, most popularly Pong and its many imitators. Unlike almost all later consoles, these systems were typically not computers (in which a CPU is running a piece of software), but contained a hardwired game logic.

In the mid-1970s, ROM cartridge-based systems, beginning with the Fairchild Channel F, had risen to prominence during the second generation of video game consoles due to the success of the Atari 2600, though stand-alone systems such as Coleco's Mini-Arcade series continued to have a smaller presence in the home video game console market until the North American video game crash of 1983. Since the Nintendo Entertainment System, ROM cartridge-based consoles had dominated the home market until CD-based consoles such as the PlayStation gained prominence in the mid and late 1990s.

Types of dedicated consoles

First-generation home video game consoles

All home video game consoles from the first generation of video game consoles are dedicated to one or a few games, they can usually be selected with a game switch on the console. Less common, the games can be selected with a cartridge. On these cartridges isn't a program; there are just a few wires that connect electrically a few parts of the intern console hardware that a game appears on the screen. Examples for this technique are the Magnavox Odyssey, the Coleco Telstar Arcade and the Philips Tele-Game ES 2201.

Arcade games

Developing from earlier non-video electronic game cabinets such as pinball machines, arcade-style video games (whether coin-operated or individually owned) are usually dedicated to a single game or a small selection of built-in games and do not allow for external input in the form of ROM cartridges. Although modern arcade games such as Dance Dance Revolution X and Half-Life 2: Survivor do allow external input in the form of memory cards or USB sticks, this functionality usually only allows for saving progress or for providing modified level-data, and does not allow the dedicated machine to access new games. The game or games in a dedicated arcade console are usually housed in a stand-up cabinet that holds a video screen, a control deck or attachments for more complex control devices, and a computer or console hidden within that runs the games.

Handheld electronic games

First released in the mid-1970s by games such as Mattel Electronics' Mattel Auto Race and Mattel Electronic Football , dedicated handheld video games are considered the precursors of modern handheld game consoles. [1] Devoted to one game or a collection or built-in games, dedicated handhelds tend to employ simple VFD or LCD screens although older models often utilized even more primitive arrays of small light bulbs or LED lights to produce calculator-like alphanumerical screens. Dedicated handheld systems typically comprise a screen, a number of control buttons, and a compact body that houses the game engine. Nintendo's Game and Watch series increased the popularity of dedicated handheld games during 1980s.

Joypad games

Dedicated consoles have appeared for fishing games, where the unit's body itself becomes a specialized controller in the form of a rod and reel. Other dedicated consoles have been released with light guns, for hunting, shooting, and even archery games.

Game watches

Rising to popularity in the early 1980s, game watches are electronic wristwatches that allow the wearer to access an included video game that uses the display in the watch's face as its screen. Game watch buttons which originally may have been used for setting hour and minute gain secondary functions in relation to the needs of the game.

Handheld TV games

A handheld TV game with power and TV leads attached. TVBoy (brighter sharper).jpg
A handheld TV game with power and TV leads attached.

A dedicated console differs from a handheld TV game (or a "plug and play game") in that the latter integrates the video game console with the game controller.

Most modern dedicated home game systems are popularly referred to as "plug and play," because they are based on modern technology which enables the hardware and software of the entire game to be within a single controller, with no separate console at all. Some of these are clones of old games, and are produced in China or Southeast Asia (i.e. Power Player Super Joy III), while others contain licensed games and are distributed in mainstream stores in the West. Of the latter, Jakks Pacific's line of TV Games is among the most famous, which includes re-releases of many vintage games, from arcade classics to Atari 2600 games, as well as games based on currently-popular characters, such as SpongeBob SquarePants. Konami has also released a line of their classic arcade games, including Frogger, on "plug and play" dedicated systems.

The Pelican VG Pocket was an attempt to make a TV game with a backlit color LCD. Dedicated consoles and handheld electronic games with LCD screens that only have one game are rather distinct devices, but the release of the Pelican VG Pocket has blurred the categorization between the two.

Modern retrogaming revival

Beginning with the 2001 [2] release by Toymax (and later Jakk's Pacific) of the Activision TV Games, there has been a revival of interest in dedicated consoles by nostalgia-driven retrogamers. The subsequent 2002 release of the Atari 10-in-1 system prompted speculation of an Atari revival. [3]

In 2002, the Brazilian Sega distributor Tectoy rereleased the Sega Master System with numerous games built in. These are not, strictly-speaking, dedicated consoles, however, as they also support cartridge-based games. As of 2006, however, no new cartridges are available for sale. Tectoy also released a portable Sega Mega Drive, with LCD screen and several games built in, but it has no cartridge port.

In 2004, a miniaturized version of the Atari 7800 home consoles was released with 20 built-in games and no cartridge support called Atari Flashback. [3] The dedicated console is actually based on a clone of the NES hardware, but running Atari software. A newer version, Atari Flashback 2, is based on actual Atari hardware, and includes some new built-in games developed by modern hobbyist Atari 2600 programmers, as well as old favorite games. [4] It is reported[ who? ] that, while the new console has no cartridge slot, it is designed such that a knowledgeable person can add one.

In the late 2010s, Nintendo, Sony, Sega, and SNK released dedicated consoles with built-in games that had been released earlier for their historic video game consoles. Examples of these dedicated consoles include the NES Classic Edition, Super NES Classic Edition, PlayStation Classic, Neo Geo Mini, TurboGrafx-16_Mini, and the Sega Genesis Mini, which usually are miniaturized replicas of their historic consoles.

See also

Related Research Articles

Atari 2600 Home video game console

The Atari 2600, originally branded as the Atari Video Computer System until November 1982, is a home video game console developed and produced by Atari, Inc. Released on September 11, 1977, it is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and games stored on ROM cartridges instead of dedicated hardware with games physically built into the unit. The VCS was bundled with two joystick controllers, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers, and a game cartridge: initially Combat, and later Pac-Man.

Atari 7800 Home video game console

The Atari 7800 ProSystem, or simply the Atari 7800, is a home video game console officially released by the Atari Corporation in 1986. It is almost fully backward-compatible with the Atari 2600, the first console to have backward compatibility without the use of additional modules. It was considered affordable at a price of US$140.

Coleco Industries, Inc. was an American company founded in 1932 by Maurice Greenberg as The Connecticut Leather Company. It became a highly successful toy company in the 1980s, known for its mass-produced version of Cabbage Patch Kids dolls and its video game consoles, the Coleco Telstar dedicated consoles and ColecoVision. While the company disappeared in 1988 as a result of bankruptcy, the Coleco brand was revived in 2005, and remains active to this day.

Handheld game console Small, portable video game console

A handheld game console, or simply handheld console, is a small, portable self-contained video game console with a built-in screen, game controls and speakers. Handheld game consoles are smaller than home video game consoles and contain the console, screen, speakers, and controls in one unit, allowing people to carry them and play them at any time or place.

Intellivision Home video game console

The Intellivision is a home video game console released by Mattel Electronics in 1979. The name Intellivision is a portmanteau of "intelligent television". Development of the console began in 1977, the same year as the introduction of its main competitor, the Atari 2600. In 1984 Mattel sold their video game assets to a former Mattel Electronics executive and investors who formed an entity that became INTV Corporation. Games development started in 1978 and continued until 1990 when the Intellivision was discontinued. From 1980 to 1983 over 3 million Intellivision units were sold.

Neo Geo (system) Cartridge-based arcade system board and home video game console

The Neo Geo, stylised as NEO•GEO, also written as NEOGEO, is a cartridge-based arcade system board and fourth-generation home video game console released on April 26, 1990, by Japanese game company SNK Corporation. It was the first system in SNK's Neo Geo family. The Neo Geo was marketed as 24-bit; its CPU is technically a 16/32-bit 68000-based system with an 8/16-bit Z80 coprocessor, while its GPU chipset has a 24-bit graphics data bus.

History of video games Aspect of history

The history of video games goes as far back as the early 1950s, when academic computer scientists began designing simple games and simulations as part of their research or just for recreation. At M.I.T. in the 1960s, professors and students played games such as 3D tic-tac-toe and Moon Landing. These games were played on computers such as the IBM 1560, and moves were made by means of punch cards. Video gaming did not reach mainstream popularity until the 1970s and 1980s, when video arcade games and gaming consoles using joysticks, buttons, and other controllers, along with graphics on computer screens and home computer games were introduced to the general public. Since the 1980s, video gaming has become a popular form of entertainment and a part of modern popular culture in most parts of the world. One of the early games was Spacewar!, which was developed by computer scientists. Early arcade video games developed from 1972 to 1978. During the 1970s, the first generation of home consoles emerged, including the popular game Pong and various "clones". The 1970s was also the era of mainframe computer games. The golden age of arcade video games was from 1978 to 1982. Video arcades with large, graphics-decorated coin-operated machines were common at malls and popular, affordable home consoles such as the Atari 2600 and Intellivision enabled people to play games on their home TVs. During the 1980s, gaming computers, early online gaming and handheld LCD games emerged; this era was affected by the video game crash of 1983. From 1976 to 1992, the second generation of video consoles emerged.

Video game console Interactive entertainment computer or customized computer system for running video games

A video game console is an electronic or computer device that outputs a video signal or visual image to display a video game that one or more people can play through some type of game controller. These may be home consoles which are generally placed in a permanent location connected to a television or other display device and controlled with a separate game controller, or handheld systems that include their own display unit and controller functions build into the unit and can be played anywhere.

Master System Video game console

The Sega Master System is a third-generation 8-bit home video game console manufactured by Sega. It was originally a remodeled export version of the Sega Mark III, the third iteration of the SG-1000 series of consoles, which was released in Japan in 1985 and featured enhanced graphical capabilities over its predecessors. The Master System launched in North America in 1986, followed by Europe in 1987, and Brazil in 1989. A Japanese version of the Master System was also launched in 1987, which features a few enhancements over the export models : a built-in FM audio chip, a rapid-fire switch, and a dedicated port for the 3D glasses. The Master System II, a cheaper model, was released in 1990 in North America and Europe.

A home video game console is a video game console that is designed to be connected to a display device, such as a television, and an external power source as to play video games. Home consoles are generally less powerful and customizable than personal computers, designed to have advanced graphics abilities but limited memory and storage space to keep the units affordable. While initial consoles were dedicated units with only a few games fixed into the electronic circuits of the system, most consoles since support the use of swappable game media, either through game cartridges, optical discs, or through digital distribution to internal storage.

Entex Adventure Vision handheld game console

Adventure Vision is a cartridge-based video game console released by Entex Industries in either August or October 1982. The monitor, game controls, and computer hardware are all contained within a single portable unit. The LED monitor can only display red pixels. Four games were released, all of which are arcade ports.

The history of video game consoles, both home and handheld, had their origins in the 1970s. The concept of home consoles used to play games on a television set was founded by the 1972 Magnavox Odyssey, first conceived by Ralph H. Baer in 1966. Handheld consoles bore out from electro-mechanical games that had used mechanical controls and light-emitting diodes (LED) as visual indicators. Handheld electronic games had replaced the mechanical controls with electronic and digital components, and with the introduction of Liquid-crystal display (LCD) to create video-like screens with programmable pixels, systems like the Microvision and the Game & Watch became the first handheld video game consoles, and fully realized by the Game Boy system.

1984 saw many sequels and prequels and several new titles such as Tetris, Karate Champ, Boulder Dash, and 1942.

1979 has seen many sequels and prequels in video games and several new titles such as Galaxian, Warrior and Asteroids.

Atari Flashback is the name of a series of dedicated video game consoles designed, produced, published and marketed by Atari, Inc. from 2004 to 2011. Since 2011, the consoles have been designed, produced, published and marketed by AtGames under license from Atari. They are "plug and play" versions of the classic Atari 2600 and Atari 7800 consoles; rather than using ROM cartridges, the games are built-in.

In the history of video games, the second-generation era refers to computer and video games, video game consoles, and handheld video game consoles available from 1976 to 1992. Notable platforms of the second generation include the Fairchild Channel F, Atari 2600, Intellivision, Odyssey 2, and ColecoVision. The generation began in November 1976 with the release of the Fairchild Channel F. This was followed by the Atari 2600 in 1977, Magnavox Odyssey² in 1978, Intellivision in 1980 and then the Emerson Arcadia 2001, ColecoVision, Atari 5200, and Vectrex, all in 1982. By the end of the era, there were over 15 different consoles. It coincided with, and was partly fueled by, the golden age of arcade video games. This peak era of popularity and innovation for the medium resulted in many games for second generation home consoles being ports of arcade games. Space Invaders, the first arcade game to be ported, was released in 1980 for the Atari 2600. Coleco packaged Nintendo's Donkey Kong with the ColecoVision when it was released on August 1982.

ROM cartridge Digital data storage device used for the distribution and storage of video games

A ROM cartridge, usually referred to simply as a cartridge or cart, is a removable memory card containing ROM designed to be connected to a consumer electronics device such as a home computer, video game console or, to a lesser extent, electronic musical instruments. ROM cartridges can be used to load software such as video games or other application programs.

Evercade is a handheld game console developed and manufactured by UK company Blaze Entertainment. It focuses on retrogaming with ROM cartridges that each contain a number of emulated games. Development began in 2018, and the console was released in May 2020, after several delays. Upon its launch, the console offered 10 game cartridges with a combined total of 122 games.


  1. "Consoles of the '70s".
  2. "JAKKS Pacific Reintroduces Activision Tv Games - GameZone". GameZone. 2012-05-04. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  3. 1 2 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-29. Retrieved 2013-12-30.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-03. Retrieved 2011-05-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)