Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Video Shoebox, uh, Jukebox

There were a lot of cartridge-switching devices produced in the early days of videogaming, mostly for the Atari 2600, but I was surprised to find this mid-1990's ad promoting the very same concept, at the end of the line for solid-state media, as shiny little discs began to take over.

I haven't been able to find any evidence that this device was ever actually produced, though it's advertised here for the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and Atari Jaguar.  I'm almost positive the Jaguar version never came out commercially, and I haven't been able to find any photos of this thing online that aren't drawn from the magazine ads.

There were a couple of different ads run, so the Video Jukebox clearly had a marketing budget behind it.  But it's entirely possible it was one of those speculative "run the ad, see if we generate any interest" campaigns.  The promoter, ASG Technologies, Inc., also mentions a forthcoming videogame of its own in this ad -- but Hosenose and Booger definitely never came out.  Note also the absence of any operating TV display in the imagery -- it could easily have been faked, but perhaps ethics prevailed on the part of the photographer.  These indications tend to push the Video Jukebox into Bigfoot territory for me personally -- unless someone can produce a prototype, a working sample, or a corpse, it didn't ever really exist.

Realities aside, the idea, of course, was to have your whole game collection (with multiple $49.95 Video Jukebox units "networked" together if necessary) online at all times, ready for instant switching, instead of thrown in a shoebox under the bed.
But no game lasts forever, and this kind of device usually turned out to be just a more expensive shoebox.

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