Classic consoles: retro gaming at PAX Australia

Tucked away at the first Australian Penny Arcade Expo was a true treasure trove of retro gaming goodness.

Nic Healey
1 of 14 Nic Healey/CNET Australia

Among the myriad sights of the first ever Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) to be held in Australia was the Classic Console area.

Packed with gaming machines from simpler, more elegant ages, the highlight of the section was that all the consoles and PCs were actually playable.

It was the work of a number of groups, including Retrospekt, Retro Gaming, Australian Retro Gamer and Retro Domination.

Kudos to all involved for allowing people to be hands on with these beautiful museum pieces. These photos feature just a handful of the classic consoles that were available during the show.

Atari 7800 (1986)

The 7800 was supposed to launch in 1984, but the sale of Atari caused it to be delayed until 1986. It cost a very reasonable US$140, or around US$300 in today's prices.

Although it was profitable for Atari, the 7800 suffered from Nintendo's then-controversial policy of requesting exclusive titles from developers.

2 of 14 Nic Healey/CNET Australia

Amstrad CPC 464 (1984)

The Amstrad Colour PC series was built to take on the likes of the Sinclair and the Commodore 64, particularly in the home gaming space. Popular in the UK and Germany, Amstrad itself was founded by Alan Sugar, now Baron Sugar.

3 of 14 Nic Healey/CNET Australia

Atari Jaguar (1993)

Although it was the first 64-bit gaming system, the Jaguar proved to be a toothless tiger for Atari. It struggled against the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn (despite being launched a year earlier), and was such a commercial failure that it sounded the death knell for Atari's console hardware aspirations.

4 of 14 Nic Healey/CNET Australia

Amiga CD32 (1993)

As the name might suggest, this was a 32-bit CD-ROM-based console. The intriguing part with the Amiga CD32 was the peripherals: you could purchase a keyboard, a hard drive, a mouse and a floppy drive, and turn the whole thing into an Amiga 1200 PC.

5 of 14 Nic Healey/CNET Australia

Super Nintendo Entertainment System/Super Famicom (1990)

It was the Super Famicom in Japan and the SNES for the rest of the world, but either way, it was one of the best-selling consoles of the 16-bit era. These are actually the slightly redesigned cases from 1997-98 — the Japanese redesign was known as the Super Famicom Jr.

6 of 14 Nic Healey/CNET Australia

Intellivision II (1982)

Just three years after the launch of the original Intellivision, the Mark II featured a sleeker design (which was cheaper to produce) and a "System Changer", which let you play Atari 2600 games as well.

7 of 14 Nic Healey/CNET Australia

Sega Mark III (1985)

The Sega Mark III was released in Japanese in October 1985 — it kicked off strong, selling 1 million units in its first year, although it never really brought the fight to Nintendo in quite the way that Sega had hoped. It received a rename and redesign for other markets around the world, becoming the better-known...

8 of 14 Nic Healey/CNET Australia

Sega Master System (1986)

...Sega Master System. While it struggled in the US, the Master System proved popular in PAL territories, even outselling the NES in Europe.

9 of 14 Nic Healey/CNET Australia

Arcadia 2001 (1982)

Back in 1982, the year 2001 was a far-off, futuristic-sounding date, mainly thanks to Stanley Kubric. The Arcadia was, bizarrely, licensed to a variety of different companies, and appeared under multiple names. In Australia alone, it was known as the Sheen Home Video Centre 2001, the Tempest MPT-03 and the Trakton Computer Video Game.

10 of 14 Nic Healey/CNET Australia

Coleco Vision (1982)

The Coleco Vision aimed to bring the contemporary feeling of arcade games into a home setting, and was surprisingly successful. The hardware shipped with a licensed version of Donkey Kong that was considered a "near-perfect" version of what was in arcades.

Outside of the North America, it was distributed by CBS Electronics and known as the CBS Coleco Vision — the same CBS that's the parent company of CNET.

11 of 14 Nic Healey/CNET Australia

Panasonic FZ-10 REAL 3DO Interactive Multiplayer (1994)

The original 3DO (the FZ-1) was released in 1993, and was an impressive bit of hardware for the time, but expensive, costing around US$1000 in today's terms. The FZ-10 was a slimmer and less-expensive version, with a top-loading CD tray.

12 of 14 Nic Healey/CNET Australia

Commodore 64 (1982)

The C64 remains one of the most recognisable names and shapes in the world of home computing. It's hard to overstate how integral it was in making home computing a common concept. Aggressively priced, it was both fun for gaming and had a large suite of business-style programs, as well.

13 of 14 Nic Healey/CNET Australia

Sega Mega Drive (1988)

Known as the Sega Genesis in the US, the Mega Drive was a big seller in Europe, but never managed to gain much of a foothold in the US and Japanese markets. We think this one might be the Asian PAL version of the console, and not the original Japanese Mega Drive.

14 of 14 Nic Healey/CNET Australia

Famicom and Family Computer Disc System/Sharp Twin Famicom 1986)

On the left is the Nintendo Family Computer (or Famicom), with the Family Computer Disc System attached. The FDS, as it was known, added more storage and a proprietary disc drive for the Famicom. On the right is the Sharp Twin Famicom — the same hardware as on the left, but all in a single system.

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