The Nerd: Pong. A simple word. A simple idea. It's just Pong.
The Nerd: It was one of the first video arcades, from 1972. A simple screen mounted inside what looked like a carved tree stump. You could call this the Wooden Age of video games when everything was made of wood, and two people playing Tennis looked like two glowsticks batting a square ball back and forth. Yeah, this was before circles were invented. In spite of its simplicity, it's a fun and addicting game, even to this day.
The Nerd: I thought it was fun. Apparently, people thought so too back then. That's why they made a home Pong console, so you can play it at home. And then there was another one! And another one! And another one! AND ANOTHER ONE! AND ANOTHER ONE! AND ANOTHER ONE! THERE WAS, LIKE, NINE MILLION FUCKIN' PONG CONSOLES!
The Nerd: A Pong console can refer to any game system made in the '70s that didn't utilize cartridges. Instead, they had one built-in game, which was Pong. Sometimes they included different variations, certain kind of updates. But it's mindblowing to think that such a simple game could've inspired so many pieces of hardware to play it. So, just for shits and giggles, we're gonna take a look at all the Pong consoles which I happen to own.
Tournament 1000 by Unisonic
The Nerd: This right here is the Tournament 1000 by Unisonic. Unfortunately, this one doesn't work, but with game consoles this old, that's something you have to expect. From what we can assume, you can select between 4 different kinds of Pong, and over here, looks like the game didn't even have the technology of keeping score, so you have to do it manually which is pretty shitty. Even the most basic Pong games kept score. The controllers slide out right here. Now that's what you call a basic controller.
APF TV Fun
The Nerd: Next, the APF TV Fun. That's a great name, isn't it? The console's got that wooden paneling, and it's shaped like some kind of spaceship. The controllers are like cylinders. You move the paddle by turning this thing right here. This game is your basic Pong. This little switch here changes the type of Pong. One thing that's typical of Pong consoles is that the sound effects never come from the TV. They come from a built-in speaker on the console itself. I guess you can say it's similar to the Wiimote how certain sound effects come out of it.
The Nerd: Next, the Wonder Wizard. Looks like a slab of wood with game dials thrown on it. It was literally built from a Magnavox Odyssey, using the same circuit board and part of the plastic casing. Also, it uses the same video connector. It's the most bizarre thing I've ever seen, and as far to my knowledge, it only exists on the Odyssey and the Wonder Wizard.
The Nerd: This might be a good time to bring up that most of these old consoles have a connector that looks like this. (a connector that looks like a fono Jack.) You have to plug them into a box, and then screw the box into your TV. But I say get yourself one of these, (an Atari 2600 Video Adapter converter) plug them into the coaxial input on your TV, plug the game in, and tell that box to (raises middle finger) go fuck itself.
The Nerd: However, the Odyssey and Wonder Wizard, with this fuckin' weird shit, you have no choice but to use a box. Even worse, it has to be a special box that takes this crap.
The Nerd: And after all that, you're lucky if the picture comes in clear. Channel 3, channel 4, what the fuck? The left paddle won't stop flickering, and the right paddle doesn't even exist. Where is it? WHERE IS IT?
RCA Studio II
The Nerd: And speaking of weird hookups, the worst of all is the RCA Studio II. Technically, it's not a Pong console because it uses cartridges, but when the Hell am I ever gonna talk about this thing? Typically, any game system would use two wires, one for the AC adapter and one to plug into the TV.
The Nerd: But then there's shitty consoles like this that think they're being cutting-edge by combining both the wires into one. In other words, both the video connector and AC adapter plug into the same box, which then plugs into the TV, again, forcing you to use a box and to unscrew it every time you want to play a different game system.
The Nerd: So, technically speaking, the video signal is traveling up this wire, and then the electricity coming from the wall socket is coming back, through the same wire. I don't even understand how that works.
The Nerd: One last thing to say about the RCA Studio II, it doesn't even have any external controllers. Two players would have to huddle around and use the keypads. Man, if there was an RCA Studio I, I'd hate to see it.
RadioShack TV Scoreboard
The Nerd: Next, the RadioShack TV Scoreboard. Looks like a remote for a TV, with a Siamese twin. You pull this off, you give it to your friend, say "Fuck you, this is all you get. Look at me, I got all this shit. I'm in control, motherfucker!"
(The ball tries to bounce off the paddles but goes through them instead.)
The Nerd: Ugh, why does the ball keep goin' through the paddle? Serve, reset, reset, serve-- I'm playing Ghost Pong! Oh, there's color? All of a sudden the color comes on?
The Sears Super Pong Tele-Game
The Nerd: The Sears Super Pong Tele-Game. Simple enough, two little knobs for controllers, works alright, basic Pong. We got four different kinds of Pong. Like, what the Hell is this? Reverse Pong? Ok, now what's this, Asshole Pong? That's not fair.
The Nerd: ColorSport VIII. Now, this is badass-looking. The controllers pop out the sides like that. Two more controllers plug in, so I guess you could have four players. Got all these switches here, four different games, Handball, Hockey, Tennis, Skeet. O.K., what's going on? All they do is change color? Hockey's red, Tennis is blue. Is that it? I don't even know if this thing's working right.
The Nerd: Ricochet. Well, this is excessive. Instead of two controllers, let's have two consoles! Aside from the clunky design, the game works okay. Except the right controller's a little jittery. That's what happens. The thing about these Pong consoles, and one of the things that makes them so fun to play is that the paddles move so fluently. It's like an analog control that doesn't exist in games today. The downside is that they break easily, and sometimes you get this jittery movement.
TV-4 4-Way Video Game
The Nerd: This yellow bastard here is called the TV-4 4-Way Video Game. Rolls right off your tongue. Well, you already know how I feel about these accursed boxes. How do you think I feel that this one is permanently attached to the fucking game console? These things come from Hell! These forks at the end might as well be the devil's pitchfork. One of them's chewed off, so I have no way of connecting it to the TV.
The Nerd: And I have no way of replacing the box. You think that makes me happy? (laughs slightly, then frowns) It doesn't! (throws the box to the ground)
Nintendo Color TV-Game
The Nerd: Another one I can't play is the Color TV-Game 6. It was made by Nintendo in 1977. Pretty cool! It was only released in Japan, which is why it won't work on my American TVs. I've heard something about turning the channel to 95, but none of my TVs go any higher than 82. Apparently, it has 6 games, and two players would have to grapple for the controls. Nintendo had an updated version with 15 games and detachable controllers.
The Nerd: Here's the Volley VI, fresh in the box. Ah, that stained white color, tasteless wood grain. It reeks with age. The controllers dismount and you got a nice tray to hold your beer. (tries to fit his beer in the tray but it doesn't fit) Ohh, fuck, almost.
The Nerd: The games are pretty typical. It's your average Pong, with one exception; it's got some gun games. I don't have the gun that goes with it, but as you can see on the box, it was some serious shit.
The Nerd: This is an example of a Pong console that uses batteries. That's another thing I need to mention. It's always C batteries. But you have the option of using an AC adapter.
The Nerd: Now, tell me, what would you rather do? Run to the store and get some C batteries to play your Volley VI, or just plug it in the wall? The only problem is that a lot of these Pong consoles did not include the AC adapter. Now, I don't know if that's because people lose 'em, or they break, but judging from the box, and just the fact that batteries are an option, I imagine a lot of times they didn't include it.
The Nerd: Now what are you gonna do with batteries, play it at the fuckin' beach? Did Pong consoles have some kind of deal with the battery company to sell more fuckin' batteries?
The Nerd: Alright, this is the Magnavox Odyssey 4000. In-between the Odyssey and Odyssey², which were cartridge-based, Magnavox made a whole bunch of Pong consoles naming them after the thousand digits. The biggest innovation here is that you can move in any direction, rather than just straight up and down.
Fairchild Channel F
The Nerd: The Fairchild Channel F was another innovation. It's a cartridge-based console, but it includes a great Pong game. The controllers were the most complicated yet, and it takes some time getting used to, but when you do, it's awesome.
The Nerd: Rocking the stick moves the paddle in any four directions. Twisting and turning changes the angle the paddle's facing. Pushing and pulling moves the goalie up and down. If you play it with a friend, it makes for a busy and intense game of Pong.
The Nerd: This is the Coleco Telstar. Once again, the controllers are built on the console. There's three settings; Tennis, Hockey, and Handball. It's another basic Pong console.
Coleco Telstar Arcade
The Nerd: At last, we have the Coleco Telstar Arcade. Look at this mess! A steering wheel, a gun? What madman came up with this? Believe it or not, it actually uses cartridges. Have you ever seen a cartridge that looks like this; a silver triangle that snaps on to the top of the console?
The Nerd: On one side you have a regular Pong game. On the other, you have a racing game. The lever controls your speed and the wheel steers your car vertically on the screen. It's kinda cool. The gun game is like trying to shoot falling stars. It's impossible, but the gun's probably broken, so who knows?
The Nerd: Well, that's Pong for ya. All these different consoles goes to show how such a simple game could become such a hot-selling franchise. I could see people thinking 30 years ago "Wow. Pong. This is where it's at! It ain't gonna get any better than this!"
The Nerd: Now what's this here, this "Xbox 360?" Some modern game system? I don't know, maybe it has advanced graphics? Might even be in color. Let's check it out.
(The Nerd starts playing "Grand Theft Auto IV" as a rock remix of the Angry Video Game Nerd theme plays. Cut to the Nerd with an absolutely amazed expression on his face)