Unreleased Videopacs Discovered!

by Marco Kerstens

This text was “rescued” from the old videopac.com website of Carl J. Gade.

In November 1996 an interesting little piece of Videopac history was uncovered. A local collector offered Dutch Videopac enthusiast Marco Kerstens a set of Videopac chips he found at a fleamarket. It turned out to be an almost complete collection of Videopac games on EPROMs. There were almost 100 EPROMs and three home made EPROM holders: ZIF sockets soldered onto rewired, regular Videopac carts. Most EPROMs contain one game, but there are also 15 EPROMs that have two games on them. Hardware switches are used to choose between the games. Around 75% of the EPROMs appeared to still be working, the rest had gone bad in some way.

At first, little was knowns about the origin of this find, only that the EPROMs had been bought on a fleamarket in Eindhoven, the home of Philips. Later an employee of Philips shed some light on the issue. He remembered there had been a lively copying practice in the eighties. Technicians at Philips made EPROM holders for their colleagues. All they had to do was bring in a Videopac cart and pay for the EPROMs. This, along with the fact that the EPROMs came with a set of copies of manuals almost certainly means that no official prototypes were found, but ‘just’ the result of some bootleg activity by Philips employees.

When an inventory was made of what was there, it was discovered that not only there were EPROMs of 56 Videopac, 3 Parker Brothers and 2 Imagic games, but also that two of the most sought after games were among them as well: Clay Pigeon and Power Lords! But there was more… Besides these illustrious games there were also EPROMs of games that had never been mentioned elsewhere.

Two of these games were made by a company called GST-Video. This name is also present in some of the Videopac Plus games, such as Super Bee, Norseman, and Blobbers. At this time it is unknown how this name was related to Philips. One of the GST-games has a title-screen, which shows the name ‘Jake.

The second game is listed on a little piece of paper that came with the EPROMs as a ‘simulation game’ by GST-Video. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get this game to work. When an attempt was made to make a ROM dump of this game, it turned out that this is probably not an EPROM. When more is known about this piece of technical mystery and never-seen-before game it will, of course, be made public here.

Two more, ‘new’ games were found in the set of EPROMS. The first is listed as ‘Laser’, but it turns out this probably is not the right name of the game. About a year after the find of the EPROMs two more remarkable finds were reported. One concerns the find of a Videopac multi cart, or game switching device. In this device a PROM was found labelled ‘Robot City’ . The game turned out to be ‘Laser’. The same name, Robot City, also turned up in the second find, by Rikard Ljunkvist, of what may be a real prototype.

The second new game is listed as a ‘catch game’ (again, no actual title is known). So, all in all, four games were discovered that had not been known to the Videopac collectors community before. Follow the links in this text or the links below to learn more about the gameplay and view some screenshots. At this point, it should be pointed out that the games are quite good, so be sure to read the reviews!

With the very kind help of Markus Gietzen and Dan Boris the games have been rescued from possible decay. ROM dumps have been made, which can be used for multicarts and emulators. Hopefully you will soon be able to enjoy these games.

And remember, these are just EPROMs. Waiting somewhere out out there to be found may be the real prototypes. Now, if THAT isn’t a thought to keep us collectors going…

Detailed info on the three games follows …

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