Multitap

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Multi-tap also refers to a text-entry system for mobile phones.

A multitap is a video game console peripheral that increases the number of controller ports available to the player, allowing additional controllers to be used in play, similar to a USB hub or a power strip. A multitap often takes the form of a box with three or more controller ports which is then connected to a controller port on the console itself.

A video game console is a computer device that outputs a video signal or visual image to display a video game that one or more people can play.

Game controller device used with games or entertainment systems

A game controller is a device used with games or entertainment systems to provide input to a video game, typically to control an object or character in the game. Before the seventh generation of video game consoles, plugging in a controller into one of a console's controller ports were the primary means of using a game controller, although since then they have been replaced by wireless controllers, which do not require controller ports on the console but are battery-powered. USB game controllers could also be connected to a computer with a USB port. Input devices that have been classified as game controllers include keyboards, mouses, gamepads, joysticks, etc. Special purpose devices, such as steering wheels for driving games and light guns for shooting games, are also game controllers.

USB hub

A USB hub is a device that expands a single Universal Serial Bus (USB) port into several so that there are more ports available to connect devices to a host system, similar to a power strip.

Contents

Mainly sports games have supported multitaps due to the multiplayer aspect of some sport games, though some role-playing video games and first person shooters have taken advantage of multitap support.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

History

Third generation

The Four Score for the original NES. NES-Four-Score.jpg
The Four Score for the original NES.

The earliest multi-controller adapter was the Joypair by HAL Laboratory, released in Japan for Nintendo's Family Computer in 1985, which allows two additional controllers to be plugged into the console's DA-15 expansion port. Originally the Joypair was only intended to allow two players to use specialized controllers (specifically HAL's Joyball  [ ja ] controllers) in place of the standard Famicom joypads (which were hardwired into the console itself), but Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu (the Japanese version of Super Dodge Ball ) utilized it to allow up to four players to participate in the game's Bean Ball mode. [lower-alpha 1] Hori later released the Twin Adapter in 1989 as an alternative to the Joypair, while certain controllers (such as the ASCII Stick series and certain models of the Family Champ joysticks) came equipped with an additional expansion port that allowed for users to connect an additional controller into them. [1] A more conventional 4-Players Adapter for the Famicom was eventually released by Hori in 1990, which allowed up to four controllers to be plugged into the expansion port (allowing each player to utilize a specialized joypad if they desired). [2] During the same year, Nintendo released their own first-party adapters for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America: the NES Four Score and the NES Satellite. Despite the fact that the HVC-101 model of the Famicom uses the same controller ports as the NES, 4-player Famicom games are not compatible with the NES multitaps.

HAL Laboratory Japanese video game developer

HAL Laboratory, Inc. is a Japanese video game developer founded on 21 February 1980. While it is officially independent, it has been closely affiliated with Nintendo throughout its history. It is headquartered in Chiyoda, Tokyo. The company got its name because "each letter put them one step ahead of IBM". The company is most famous for the Kirby, Mother, and Super Smash Bros. series.

Japan Constitutional monarchy in East Asia

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.

Nintendo Japanese video game company

Nintendo Co., Ltd. is a Japanese multinational consumer electronics and video game company headquartered in Kyoto. Nintendo is one of the world's largest video game companies by market capitalization, creating some of the best-known and top-selling video game franchises, such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon.

Fourth generation

The Multitap (the first device to be marketed with such a name) by NEC Home Electronics for the PC Engine, which launched alongside the platform in Japan on October 30, 1987, was the first multi-controller adapter made specifically for multiplayer support, allowing up to five controllers to be plugged into the console. Because the console itself only has one controller port as standard, the Multitap was a necessity for games that supported more than one player. As a result, various inexpensive alternatives to the Multitap were released for the PC Engine by third-party companies, such as the Battle Tap by Big Club and the Joy Tap 3 by Hudson Soft, which featured less controller ports than the first-party Multitap, but these were gradually phased out as more games started to allow up to five players. The first PC Engine game to allow more than two players simultaneously was Pro Tennis: World Court in August 1988 (ten months after the launch of the system), which allowed up to four players in a doubles match, while Dungeon Explorer in 1989 was the first game to fully allow up to five players. The Multitap was redesigned into the TurboTap for the North American market with the launch of the TurboGrafx-16 in 1989, and later as the DuoTap for the TurboDuo in 1992 (the different models were due to the change in controller ports between the TurboGrafx-16 and the TurboDuo).

Hudson Soft Japanese video game publisher

Hudson Soft Co., Ltd was a Japanese video game company that released numerous games for video game consoles, home computers and mobile phones, mainly from the 1980s to the 2000s. It was headquartered in the Midtown Tower in Tokyo Midtown, Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo, Japan, with an additional office in the Hudson Building in Sapporo.

<i>Pro Tennis: World Court</i> 1988 video game

Pro Tennis: World Court is a tennis sports arcade game that was released by Namco in 1988 only in Japan; it runs upon Namco System 1 hardware, and was inspired by the 1987 Famicom game Family Tennis. In August 1988, the game was ported to the PC Engine console, in which a new tennis-based role-playing quest mode was added, and was later ported to the North American TurboGrafx-16 console by NEC under the title of World Court Tennis in 1989 - and a sequel named Super World Court was released in 1992, which ran on Namco NA-1 hardware and allowed up to four players to play simultaneously.

1988 has seen many sequels and prequels in video games and several new titles such as Super Contra, Super Mario Bros 2,Assault and Altered Beast, and Super Mario Bros 3

An unlicensed multitap for the Super NES. Super Nintendo MultiTap.jpg
An unlicensed multitap for the Super NES.

Hudson Soft manufactured the Super Multitap, a multiplayer adapter for the Super NES in 1993. The adapter connects to the second controller port of the SNES control deck (leaving the first one free), resulting in a total of five controller ports (much like the original Multitap for the PC Engine). It was produced primarily for Super Bomberman , [3] which had a prior installment on the PC Engine (simply titled Bomberman ) that featured a five-player battle mode, although the SNES game only supported up to four players (the series did not support five players on the SNES until Super Bomberman 3 , which was released only in Japan and the PAL region). The Super Multitap has a switch for 2P Mode and 5P Mode, allowing it to remain connected into the console without affecting incompatible games. While no Nintendo-produced version of the peripheral was ever produced (nor were there any first-party games that supported it), various other SNES multitaps were later produced by other companies (both, licensed and unlicensed) such as the Hori Multitap (released by Bulletproof Software in North America as the Super Links) and the Multi-Adaptor Auto. One particular unlicensed model, the Tribal Tap 6 Player Adaptor by Naki, added a fraudulent sixth controller port that was promoted as a selling point against competing multitap models, even though no licensed SNES game ever supported more than five players.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System home video game console developed by Nintendo and first released in 1990 in Japan

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), also known as the Super NES or Super Nintendo, is a 16-bit home video game console developed by Nintendo that was released in 1990 in Japan and South Korea, 1991 in North America, 1992 in Europe and Australasia (Oceania), and 1993 in South America. In Japan, the system is called the Super Famicom (SFC). In South Korea, it is known as the Super Comboy and was distributed by Hyundai Electronics. The system was released in Brazil on August 30, 1993, by Playtronic. Although each version is essentially the same, several forms of regional lockout prevent the different versions from being compatible with one another.

<i>Super Bomberman</i> 1993 SNES game

Super Bomberman is the first video game in the Bomberman series released for the Super NES, released in 1993. It is also the first four-player game to be released on the Super NES and the first game in the series to be released in Europe keeping the Bomberman title instead of being called Dynablaster.

<i>Super Bomberman 3</i> video game

Super Bomberman 3 is a game released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1995. It is the third game in the Bomberman series for the system. Just like Fifa International Soccer, up to five players can play at the same time. The game was released in Japan and the PAL region, but not in North America.

J-Cart with two built-in controller ports Mega drive j-cart.jpg
J-Cart with two built-in controller ports

Two independently developed multitaps were released for the Sega Genesis also in 1993. The 4-Way Play (which utilized both controller ports) was developed by Electronic Arts without license from Sega and was made specifically for their lineup of sports games (such as Madden NFL '94 ), whereas the Team Player (known as the SegaTap in Japan) was developed by Tengen for Gauntlet IV and sold by Sega as a first-party product. In contrast to the 4-Way Play, the Team Player only required one controller port (leaving an additional port free for a fifth player, much like the Super Multitap) and also acted as a splitter that allowed users to switch between multiple input devices (such as a mouse or a light gun) connected to the console at the same time. The original model of the Team Player (MK-1654) was incompatible with games that required the 4-Way Play, so a revision (MK-1647) was later produced that solved this issue by adding a second controller cord and an "Extra" setting for 4-Way Play compatibility. While most Team Player-compatible titles only supported up to four players (with some games such as Columns III supporting up to five), Konami's Double Dribble: The Playoff Season and Sega's Egawa Suguru's Super League CD (a Japan-exclusive baseball game for Mega CD) both allow up to eight players with the use of two Team Player adapters (one in each controller port). In addition to these multitaps, Codemasters released a series of Genesis cartridges known as the J-Cart with two additional controller ports installed on them, allowing users to plug in additional controllers on them without the need of an adapter. A total of six games were released in J-Cart format. [4]

Sega Genesis Fourth-generation home video game console and fourth developed by Sega

The Sega Genesis, known as the Mega Drive in regions outside of North America, is a 16-bit home video game console developed and sold by Sega. The Genesis was Sega's third console and the successor to the Master System. Sega released it as the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988, followed by North America as the Genesis in 1989. In 1990, it was distributed as the Mega Drive by Virgin Mastertronic in Europe, Ozisoft in Australasia, and Tec Toy in Brazil. In South Korea, it was distributed by Samsung as the Super Gam*Boy and later the Super Aladdin Boy.

Electronic Arts American interactive entertainment company

Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) is an American video game company headquartered in Redwood City, California. It is the second-largest gaming company in the Americas and Europe by revenue and market capitalization after Activision Blizzard and ahead of Take-Two Interactive and Ubisoft as of March 2018.

<i>Madden NFL 94</i> 1993 NFL video game

Madden NFL '94 is an American football video game released in 1993. It was the first game in the Madden series with an official National Football League team license, as well as the first Madden game that allowed players to play a full regular season. However, the game is not licensed by the NFL Players Association, so all of the players are identified by number only.

A few games released for the Amiga home computer system after 1995 included support for custom-built multitaps. Instructions for how to build a multitap were included in the manual to classic Amiga racing sequel Super Skidmarks . [5] The Amiga multitap would plug into the computer's parallel port and provide two additional ports for use. Earlier, the Amiga version of Bomberman , Dynablaster had already included support for a similar device, as demonstrated on Season 2, Episode 5 of TV's GamesMaster.

Fifth generation

An official multitap for the PlayStation. PlayStation-Multitap-Adaptor.jpg
An official multitap for the PlayStation.

The original PlayStation Multitap was one of the earliest peripherals released for the platform. It featured not only four additional controller ports, but also four memory card slots for each of them as well. Like the Team Player adapter for the Genesis, two PlayStation Multitaps could be used at the same time for up to eight controllers and memory cards, although very few games allowed for more than five players. [6]

An official multitap for the Sega Saturn. Sega-Saturn-Multitap.jpg
An official multitap for the Sega Saturn.

A six-controller adapter was released for the Sega Saturn (sold as the Multi-Player Adaptor in the United States and as the Multi Terminal 6 in Japan), which features the most controller ports out of all the multitaps made by first party manufacturers. The Saturn could theoretically support up to 12 controllers with the use of two adapters, but the only game to support this feature, Saturn Bomberman , only allows up to ten players. [7]

One of the first multitaps for personal computers, the Gravis Interface Protocol (officially abbreviated GrIP) from Advanced Gravis Computer Technology, has six ports, four for digital Gravis-brand gamepads (e.g. the Gravis PC GamePad), and two pass-through ports for analog joysticks. [8]

Decline

The Nintendo 64 did not have any official multitaps released for it, as the console featured four controller ports by default (the first console to do so since the Bally Astrocade). As a result, many four-player games were released for the system. Dreamcast and the original Xbox would follow the N64's example by including four controller ports as default as well, as did Nintendo's succeeding console, the GameCube.

Despite this, the PlayStation 2 was released with only two controller ports like its predecessor, so a Multitap was still produced for the console. Because of compatibility issues, the original PS2 Multitap (SCPH-10090) for the early models of the console only worked specifically on PS2 games, meaning that the original PlayStation or PS one Multitap was still required for the games on the previous console. For the "slimline" model of the PS2, a new Multitap (SCPH-70120) was made that supported both, PS and PS2 games. [9]

All three seventh generation consoles abandoned the use of conventional wired controller in favor of having wireless controllers as standard, although the maximum number of detected controllers varies with each platform. The Xbox 360 console can detect up to four wireless controllers, as well as three wired controllers via USB connection. The Wii, which uses a motion-sensitive remote controller known as the Wii Remote, could detect up to four wireless controllers, but also had four controller ports that were compatible with GameCube controllers. [lower-alpha 2] The PlayStation 3 could support up to seven wireless controllers.

For the eighth generation consoles, the maximum number of wireless controllers detected by the PlayStation 4 was reduced to four, while the ones detected by the Xbox One was raised to eight. The Wii U can support up to seven Wii Remotes or Wii U Pro Controllers in addition to the GamePad, for a total of eight wireless controllers. The Wii U does not feature GameCube controller ports by default, but a GameCube Controller Adapter was primarily made for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U that connects up to four GameCube controllers via the Wii U's USB port. Through the use of a USB hub and two adapters, up to eight GameCube controllers can be used. [10] The Nintendo Switch supports up to 4 Pro Controllers or pairs of Joy-Con controllers, the latter capable of being split into two for a total of 8 per console.

Method of operation

Many systems were not designed with multitaps in mind, and so require some clever design to work. Because of this, games usually have to be specially written to include multitap support.

The most common way of implementing 8 and 16 bit multitaps is to multiplex the signals from each attached controller in some way. Some systems have unused lines available on the controller port, designed for future expansion, which can be used. Another popular technique is to serialise the data from each controller. Since the NES and Super NES both use a serial bus for standard controllers, creating a multitap is simply a case of increasing the amount of serial data available to the console. In that way, an almost unlimited number of extra controllers can be connected.

Later systems used more complex buses, such as the Nintendo 64 serial bus, the Dreamcast Maple Bus or USB. These buses tend to be more modular and can already support more than one device per port, making the multitap little more than a hub.

See also

Notes

  1. Prior to Dodge Ball, the first Famicom game to allow more than two players simultaneously was Konami's Moero TwinBee released in 1986, which allows a third player to participate by simply plugging a joypad into the expansion port without the need of an adapter. The export version for the NES, titled Stinger, only allows up to two players.
  2. This was a requirement for certain TurboGrafx-16 games released on the Virtual Console, as the first controller port on the Wii is needed for the fifth player in games such as Bomberman and Dungeon Explorer.

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NES Four Score

The NES Four Score is a multitap accessory created by Nintendo in 1990 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Select games can utilize it to enable up to four-player gameplay. The NES Four Score is similar to the previously introduced NES Satellite, a device that allows four players to connect to the NES and extends the range using infrared wireless communication.

NES Satellite

The NES Satellite is a Nintendo Entertainment System multiplayer adaptor accessory (multitap), created by Nintendo and released in 1989 as a part of the NES Sports Set.

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The Super 8, also sold under the title Tri-star or Tristar, is an unlicensed video game peripheral released in 1995 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System designed to allow the system to run games developed for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The Super 8 utilized an NES-on-a-chip integrated circuit to duplicate the functionality of the original NES hardware, and connected to the SNES's own cartridge slot.

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<i>Bomberman 94</i> video game by Hudson and part of their Bomberman franchise

Bomberman '94 is a video game from the Bomberman series which was developed and published by Hudson Soft for the PC Engine and released on December 10, 1993 in Japan. It was later re-developed by Westone and re-published by Sega as Mega Bomberman on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in 1994 in other areas. The PC Engine Bomberman '94 was later released outside Japan through the Wii's Virtual Console and the PlayStation 3's PlayStation Network.

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References

  1. "ファミコン 周辺機器" (in Japanese).
  2. "ファミコンの周辺機器が大集合! ザ☆周辺機器ズ 04".
  3. "VIDEO GAME MAKER HUDSON SOFT USA INTRODUCES FIRST-IN-THE-INDUSTRY, MULTI-PLAYER ACCESSORY; ANNOUNCES THIRD-PARTY SOFTWARE SUPPORT".
  4. "Quadro-Power". Megablast (in German). Joker Verlag. 1994-03-30. p. 29.
  5. "Super Skidmarks Manual" (PDF). p. 3. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  6. "マルチタップ". プレイステーション® オフィシャルサイト (in Japanese).
  7. "マルチターミナル6". セガハード大百科 (in Japanese).
  8. "Get a Grip!!!: Joysticks Past, Present & Future". Next Generation . No. 17. Imagine Media. May 1996. p. 40.
  9. "周辺機器互換表". プレイステーション® オフィシャルサイ (in Japanese).
  10. "USBハブを使ってWii U用ゲームキューブコントローラ接続タップをWii Uに接続する方法". 大乱闘スマッシュブラザーズ for Wii U.