Monday, June 30, 2014

View-Master Interactive Vision

Remember those 3D View Master goggle things?
(Image source)
Well, it turns out that View Master also made a rather unique, mostly educational, video game console called Interactive Vision, which was released in 1988. Using the term loosely, it's a video game console anyway.
(Image via /u/ZadocPaet of Reddit)
There it is. I bet you're wishing you had one now! What this console offers is an interactive VHS tape experience with any of its seven compatible games: 

  • Sesame Street: Let's Learn to Play Together
  • Sesame Street: Magic on Sesame Street
  • Sesame Street: Let's Play School
  • Sesame Street: Oscar's Letter Party
  • Muppet Madness
  • Muppet Studios Presents: You're the Director
  • Disney's Cartoon Arcade
This interactivity is accomplished by feeding your ordinary VHS player's cables through to the Interactive Vision, which takes embedded program data and allows you to influence what is going on during certain points on the tape. These programs start and stop using the tape as a timer, so rewinding and fast-forwarding at the wrong time tends to mess stuff up. The console itself is capable of switching between multiple audio tracks on the tape, both of which match up with the character's mouths since the characters are either animated or muppets. In addition to switching or muting audio, the Interactive Vision can also overlay other images on top of the video to display scores or rudimentary games like puzzles. All of these minor changes to the video and audio are then passed on to the TV and displayed for you. The console was intended to be left plugged in and would simply pass through the signal of any regular VHS tape.

The Interactive Vision came packaged with either Sesame Street: Let's Learn to Play Together or Disney's Cartoon Arcade depending on which set you bought. Although the enigmatically shaped console never fully reached its limited potential, the games in Disney's Cartoon Arcade made it the closest. You can watch the gameplay here:

Additional sources: Wikipedia, DigitalPress
If you like reading about lesser-known game consoles, you might also be interested in "the other PSX".

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