RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Aug 1st 2008 at 07:49:35 PM by (Marriott_Guy)
Posted under System Overview, System Overview, Bandai, Playdia

During the early mid 1990s, the video game market exploded due to the new technology available to developers, specifically the jump in processor speed and the release of the CD-ROM format. No longer were game programmers limited by the small canvas standard cartridges provided - the CD-ROM was their dream come true. With this new media format at their disposal, manufacturers began to truly expand the definition of a video game console. Computer hybrids (Commodore 64 GS, FM Towns Marty, Amiga CD32, etc.) and all-inclusive multimedia devices (Philips CD-i, Panasonic 3DO, Pioneer LaserActive, etc.) were designed to target a new, and older, audience. Taking a slightly different approach, popular game developer Bandai decided to enter the foray with their release of the Playdia. Instead of following the current trends, Bandai marketed the Playdia to children and families. Would this Japanese-only release hit the mark? Far from it as you will see.

The Playdia is a rather unsophisticated looking unit. The rectangular chassis is comprised of medium weight plastics, sporting an indigo-blue top section with a leprechaun-green base. The design is simple and to the point. A simple power and reset switch reside on the left top of the console, with a large banana-yellow 'open' button on the right to open the door of top loading CD drive. There is a rectangular recess directly in front of the unit to park the wireless IR controller (the first system ever to have a wireless controller standard). The weight of this unit is a bid odd, with most of the weight residing in the back. A standard composite output and DC 9V power supply jack adorn the rear of the unit. Though simplistic in appearance, I do have to say it does stand out in a collection due to the unique colors utilized in its construction. But that is the only reason it stands out.

With a younger audience in its sights, the library of games for the Playdia is comprised of mostly edutainment titles. All games for this system are interactive FMV movies - there is no real game play with this system with the exception of selecting an action for your character to perform from a lit of presented options. The FMV titles are really not that bad. The anime sequences are presented well with very little frame rate drop off, but this is easy to accomplish since there is no real-time input from the user during these sequences. Surprising around 40 titles were released for this system. But not all of these were for the kids.

The Playdia was not succeeding at all and Bandai began feeling the fiscal repercussions of a failed system. The Sony Playstation entered the market just  months after its debut and sealed this system's fate. Looking to recoup their losses, Bandai released interactive anime adult titles to stem the negative financial losses incurred in the first two years of this console's life. Odd that a system initially tailored to the family would resort to these measures, but it worked. Bandai was able to get out with minimal losses after all was said and done in 1996. Plus, Bandai had significant resources devoted to a bigger project - the Bandai Pippin. But that is for another article.

The Bandai Playdia was a short lived and unsuccessful system. Even with devoting their efforts to a rather untapped market (children / families), the Playdia could not survive the release of the Sony Playstation. This is definitely not a recommended purchase for the gamer - only for a console collector. Though unique, the unit is not that pricey.  $100 USD should net you a CIB system. The Playdia is nice to look at in your collection, not so much when you fire it up and experience it.

The link to the full review of this system (including ratings, pictures and video):

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I'd never heard of this system. Made for an interesting read, thanks!
@c2385:Thanks Kimo - glad you enjoyed it!
Never heard of this neither. Then again, if you can only play interactive FMV movies on it, it's not a true gaming system. Any DVD player would also be a gaming system then. So this is maybe a DVD player avant-la-lettre Smiley

Very much enjoyed reading this though!

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