Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Nintendo and Magnavox

In the meantime that i'm finishing the manual and planning new things for the version 0.2 of OdySim, i wanted to tell an untold story about Magnavox and Nintendo. If you remembered on the second post (aka 1st update) i wrote: "... which uses the Rifle Gun but did you know that the Magnavox Odyssey Rifle Gun was actually made by Nintendo !" and also on the post "Week-End break", i wrote: "... based on the Magnavox Odyssey technology and it was the very first "Japanese-made" (not the first video game console to be released in Japan, that honor goes to....Odyssey! and by...Nintendo! NO JOKE!). Now that would be logical since Nintendo did make the Rifle Guns for Magnavox, but that's another story.".

Well today is the time to tell the story: Back when Ralph Baer (who was working for Sanders Associates) sold the rights of the Brown Box to Magnavox. By 1971, Magnavox had made a few prototypes which they called "Skill-O-Vision" to market tests and ask people what did they think of the Skill-O-Vision, but during that year, Magnavox contacted a toy company to make the rifle guns (they surely contacted a few companies but one was chosen) and that company was Nintendo. Since e-mails and internet didn't existed in 1971, Magnavox must have seen Nintendo at a Toy Fair (i'm guessing...) or a person at Magnavox made research to find a suitable toy company. In any case, Magnavox stumbled upon Nintendo and asked them if they could do the rifle guns for them and they did. Nintendo already had guns and rifle guns which were called "光線銃SP  光線銃 カスタム" (aka Kôsenjû Guns) (click here to read about all the Kôsenjû Guns).

If you have checked the page on the "Before Mario" blog, check especially the "Kôsenjû SP Rifle" and see how this gun is the copy of the Odyssey Rifle Gun minus the small telescope sight. Still don't beleive it ? Then check these pictures of the Odyssey Rifle Gun and the Interton Video 3000 (from my collection):

Notice the battery compartments on both Interton and Magnavox rifles ? Yep, those battery compartments aren't used in those two rifles since they are powered by the console when pluged-in,  but it is used for the Nintendo Kôsenjû SP since there is no cord attached. And now, check these pictures of the Nintendo Kôsenjû SP (these were taken on an Japanese auction site):


 So there you have it, the Odyssey Rifle Gun is in fact a modified Nintendo Kôsenjû SP rifle gun! But...the story isn't finished yet. Do you know who designed the Kôsenjû SP ? None other than Gunpei Yokoi! The guy who created those Game & Watch as many other things for Nintendo. As Nintendo made the rifle guns for the Odyssey, they were analyzing the arcade video game market in the U.S. as in Japan and they notice that this new type of gaming was catching up with Japan so they decided to ask Magnavox if they would agree if Nintendo would sell and distribute the Odyssey and since they already had a contract (for the rifles), they were the very first to release the first video game console in Japan and just a few months before the release of the Epoch Electrotennis.

David Winter stated in an old message (still trying to find it) that the Nintendo Odyssey is almost the same as the US Odyssey. The only difference is the manual and the papers were in Japanese but the rest (overlays, cards, boards, etc..) were still in English. The only proof of the Nintendo Odyssey (for now) is a flyer that Toby Wickwire (aka Y-Bot) has a copy of the Japanese Odyssey flyer. Here's the pictures:

Sorry about the quality but these are the only size that exists on the Web, well until someone (maybe me? *grin*) ask Toby for better quality pictures or even better...scans! So this is the story on how Magnavox and Nintendo teamed-up 44 years ago.

--- Sly DC ---


  1. This manuals are from the Nanyang Radio Co of Singapore, not Nintendo of Japan.

    I'm trying to find some proof that a Nintendo Odyssey existed for my book Phoenix IV but I'm not having any luck.

  2. Hi Leonard,

    Sorry for the very late reply. So the flyer that Toby has, is from Nanyang Radio Co of Singapore ? What a blunder i've made! So you too you're searching any picture or evidence about the Nintendo Odyssey ?

    The Japan Wiki states that it never came out (Just the Odysssey2 came out in Japan) and a story (http://www.ritsumei.ac.jp/acd/gr/gsce/s/um01/021218.htm) only tells about the Rifle Gun that Magnavox asked Nintendo to do for them.

    Be sure if i ever get any proof that it did cam out in Japan, you'll be the first i'll contact. Take care & keep in touch! =)

  3. Dear Sly DC

    Do you have a source that Nintendo did the Odyssey gun? Or is it just the mold as an evidence?

  4. Nevermind, it's your lovely link. I am sorry, I am slow at Japanese...