The View-Master InteractiveVision FAQ Version 2.0.1 February 20th, 2000. (c) 2000 by Robert Morgan, all rights reserved. This FAQ may be freely distributed in a non-commercial, non-profit manner. Any commercial or for-profit use must be authorized by me. -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- All trademarks, registered trademarks, servicemarks, etc., contained herein are the sole property of their owners. The information in this FAQ is provided as is, and the author is not responsible for damages or problems caused by use or misuse of the information. In other words, if your VMIV blows up, it isn't my fault! -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- I- Introduction a) FAQ History b) Terms and abbreviations used throughout II- What is the InteractiveVision? a) What was supplied with the system? b) Physical configuration of system and components. III- Games for the InteractiveVision a) Alphabetical listing b) Game reviews c) Problems with videocassettes 1) Copying videocassettes IV- Instructions a) System hookup b) Individual game instructions V- Hints, Tips, and Tricks VI- Links and resources VII- Contact information VIII- To be added- help probably needed. IX- Thanks -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- I- Introduction This is a FAQ and resource guide for the little-known, little-remembered, and little-understood View-Master InteractiveVision (VMIV). (That may make the term "FAQ" an oxymoron, since people don't frequently ask questions about it!) I write this hoping to bring attention to a system usually passed over by the video game community. When the VMIV came out, it was hailed as an innovative new learning tool for young children. Its original high price (around $130 US) quelled the cheering, though, and the system soon ended up on the shelves of liquidation stores (indeed, one of the most common sources for the VMIV was Toy Liquidators.) The VMIV is pretty uncommon among educational toys, however, in being a true video game system. If one accepts the definition of a video game system as being an electronic device that creates and uses altering interactive video displays, only the VMIV and the Sega Pico among all educational toys can be considered video game systems. The VMIV also is the only videocassette based video game system to make it to market. Most game collectors erroneously bestow the video game label on the World of Wonder Action Max; the Action Max, however, is incapable of generating video displays, and allows no interaction on-screen. The Hasbro NEMO, another true videocassette based game system, was shelved. So, if you've never heard of the VMIV, I hope this FAQ is useful. If you're looking for information, I hope it's helpful. And if it's missing information that *you* know, please contact me! (See chapter VII) This FAQ will never be complete without *your* help. a) FAQ history This FAQ is a "sequel" to a VMIV FAQ I wrote several years ago (thus the 2 starting off the version number.) There were perhaps 2 revisions of that original FAQ, but indifference in the classic gaming community negated further development of the FAQ, and a hard drive crash on my then-pretty-decent 386sx killed the project. A while back, Sylvain De Chantal, a maintainer and/or co-maintainer of many gaming related FAQs contacted me for information regarding the VMIV. I was surprised (and delighted) that someone remembered that old FAQ, but no one had a copy. Due to familial problems, I no longer even had a VMIV or any games, but I told Sylvain I was interested in restarting it. By coincidence and/or fate, there was an uncontested auction ending in a few hours on eBay for a VMIV set, with most of the released titles! I bid, won, and it's resulted in this- a new version of a lost FAQ. (Oddly enough, I now have the VMIV and the games, but I still can't play them! One of the requirements is a VCR with RCA and coax outs, and mine broke a while back- I've only a TV/VCR combo now...) b) Terms and abbreviations used throughout BGM- background music coax- coaxial cable and/or connector DCA- Disney's Cartoon Arcade genlock- a device that allows a computer to overlay graphics on top of video. G, W, R, Y, B- the Green, White, Red, Yellow, and Blue buttons on the VMIV joystick. NTSC- a television standard, used in the USA, Canada, and Japan. SFX- sound effects VMIV- View-Master InteractiveVision -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- II- What is the InteractiveVision? The VMIV is a video game system that uses VHS videocassettes as its software medium. It is a system aimed at small children (and their parents), and thus the 7 games available for the VMIV are very simplistic, and tend to have educational themes. All of the games are licensed- Sesame Street being the most prominent with 4 titles, Jim Henson's Muppets being the next with 2, and Disney the last with 1. The system operates by downloading program information from the videocassette. That program then runs (and is dependent upon the videocassette as a timer to determine stop and start times), and the system is capable of manipulating the video and audio information in the following ways: -switching between alternate audio tracks. The system can, for example, play BGM during a game, switching to an alternate track containing applause for solving a puzzle or catching a ball. It can also switch between 2 different soundtracks to custom produce a story chosen by the player. -blocking audio. In rare cases, the system will block both channels- if a player has lost a game, for example, you don't hear the winning fanfare. -overlaying computer graphics on the video. This is probably the reason that the VMIV cost so much to begin with; at the time, genlocks for computer systems were several hundred dollars. The VMIV can do simple tasks such as blacking out the screen or portions of it, or can do complex tasks such as generating a full-screen image. The system is designed to be left permanently connected between the VCR and TV. The system, while off, passively passes information via the VCR through to the TV via coax out. While on, the system apparently extracts its information from the RCA inputs (unsure whether it's audio or video that contains the computer data) and outputs the combined audio/video/computer graphics via the coax out to the TV. (Every VCR I've seen automatically routes A/V through RCA when cables are plugged in, so I'm honestly unsure why the system needs a coax in.) a) What was supplied with the system? The VMIV was supplied in 2 configurations, a Sesame Street set, and a Disney set. The sets differed only in the box and the individual tape included. Sesame Street set (part #7150) Box is grey and TV set in photo has a picture of Big Bird holding a VMIV controller. -VMIV system -joystick -"Sesame Street: Let's Learn to Play Together" (part #7153) -coax cable -red and black RCA cables -instruction booklet Disney set (part #715?) Box is pink and TV set in photo has a picture of Mickey Mouse. -VMIV system -joystick -"Disney's Cartoon Arcade" (part #7159) -coax cable -red and black RCA cables -instruction booklet b) Physical configuration of system and components The system is grey and is two-tiered. The lower tier is shaped like a flat square, and is scored into a matrix- the teal power switch is located on the left, and a LED indicator is located beside it.. The upper tier, a rectangle, is tilted out-of-skew by about 15 degrees for no apparent reason (it even juts off of the back of the lower tier!), is textured, and is vented. The joystick cable is permanently connected to the front right of the system. The back of the system contains the following, from left to right: - 3-position audio switch - 2-position channel switch (3/4) - coax RF out - coax RF in - RCA audio in - RCA video in - custom AC plug The joystick is very cumbersome and hard to use; it's shaped like a small-case "q". The joystick cable plugs into the port at the top of the joystick (which is, incidentally, the only system stick I've seen that is configured like that.) The conical joystick is located near the top, and 2 of the 5 joystick buttons (G, W) are to the lower left of the stick. The remainder of the buttons (R, Y, B) run down the length of the stick-like handle. The combined result is a joystick that is uncomfortable- left-handers may find the set-up slightly easier, but the existence of buttons on the handle makes holding the stick properly very hard. The videocassettes are standard T-30 VHS, and come packed in illustrated paperboard sleeves (open at the bottom.) AC adaptor outputs 16vAC, 800mA. (Unsure of pins.) -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ III- Games for the InteractiveVision As far as I know, the only games released for the VMIV are the ones (rather handily) listed on the back of the system box. All were available for separate purchase (including the pack-ins.) a) Alphabetical listing Ratings are listed in the following format: 2.5/4 The first number is the average score, the second is the number of voters. Please vote on these games if you have played them! (see chapter VII) Please remember to vote based on the abilities of the VMIV, and compared with other VMIV games. Title part #|rarity |rating |genre ------------------------------------------------------------------ Disney's Cartoon Arcade 7159 | C | 4.5/1 | arc Muppet Madness 7157 | R | | Muppets' Studios Presents: 7158 | R | | You're the Director Sesame Street: Let's Learn to 7153 | C | 3.0/1 | edu Play Together Sesame Street: Let's Play School 7155 | U | 3.5/1 | edu Sesame Street: Magic on Sesame 7154 | U | 3.0/1 | edu Street Sesame Street: Oscar's Letter 7156 | U | 3.5/1 | edu Party b) Reviews Please send in reviews of VMIV games, whether one already exists or not! (see Chapter VII) -Disney's Cartoon Arcade IMO, this is by far the most entertaining of the VMIV games. Developed by Cinemaware (yes- the company behind Defender of the Crown), DCA is a compendium of classic Disney animation and timed arcade and puzzle games. There also appears to be new animation done specifically for this cassette- the introductory segments featuring Ludwig Von Drake seem to be animated to match the words being spoken. The games themselves are based around parts of old Disney cartoons- catch ghosts to help Mickey, shovel coal into a furnace for Goofy. While none of the VMIV games specifically take advantage of all that the system is theoretically capable of, DCA definitely comes the closest. (RM) -Muppet Madness (none) -Muppets' Studios Presents: You're the Director (none) -Sesame Street: Let's Learn to Play Together (none) -Sesame Street: Let's Play School (none) -Sesame Street: Magic on Sesame Street (none) -Sesame Street: Oscar's Letter Party (none) c) Problems with videocassettes What makes the VMIV unique is also its biggest problem. Using videocassettes was the best and cheapest method to provide multimedia content at the time, but videocassettes- like all magnetic media- are a temporary medium, and are prone to damage, wear, and decay. The average estimated lifespan of magnetic media is about 10 years. The VMIV's cassettes were made in 1988, and are now 12 years old. Many cassettes last longer, some decay quicker, but we are faced with the prospect of losing anything to play on VMIVs before too long. Videocassettes can be damaged by extreme heat or cold, magnetic fields, overuse, and abuse. Pausing a videocassette can cause damage because of prolonged contact with the moving video head... indeed standard play induces wear from contact with the head and the various spindles and parts of a VCR. This is a minor problem with moving video images, but is a major problem when it comes to computer data- a damaged VMIV cassette may still play video and audio properly, but if there are even slight irregularities in the computer data, the VMIV won't run at all. 1) Copying videocassettes I've no information yet on whether it is possible to copy VMIV cassettes and use the copy on a VMIV. Copies of videocassettes have generally lower video and audio quality, and it's unknown whether this will have an impact on whether a VMIV can read it. It seems in the hookup to the VMIV that the computer data is relayed through the RCA cables, as opposed to the coax; if anyone can experiment to see if copies can work on a VMIV, I'd like to see if there's a noticeable difference between using coax vs. RCA copies, as far as VMIV compatibility is concerned. There is potential in transferring VMI programs to another (less degradeable) video format, such as recordable DVD or digital 8. Each video format stores information in a different way- the data for the VMIV, and potentially the alternate audio track, may be stored in a portion of the VHS' signal that does not exist in other formats. In other words, other video formats may not even see the portion of the signal critical to VMIV. Hopefully, someone will be able to experiment on this. Any takers? -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- IV- Instructions a) System hookup Attach coax RF out from VCR to coax RF in on VMIV. Attach black RCA cable from RCA video out on VCR to RCA video in on VMIV. Attach red RCA cable from RCA audio out on VCR to RCA audio in on VMIV. (Note; on stereo VCRs, you need to use an RCA signal combiner/stereo-to-mono convertor.) Attach coax RF out from VMIV to coax RF in on TV. Move channel select on back of VMIV to 3 or 4, depending on which channel is not used for broadcasting in your area. (If both are used, pick the channel with the worst reception.) b) Game instructions Individual games are explained on each cassette. Use VCR to rewind cassette to beginning. (Note: stand-alone cassette rewinders can damage or break the tape! Always use a real VCR to rewind!) Assure TV is tuned to the channel set on the VMIV, turn on the VMIV, and press play on the VCR. Each cassette starts out with a small self-test after the multi-colored stars disappear; this test lets you know whether the VMIV is properly connected and/or working. If the TV says to check to make sure the VMIV is on, the VMIV may be turned off, is malfunctioning, or is improperly connected... (or, the tape may be wearing out. See chapter III.c) If the TV does not tell you to turn on the VMIV, the system is (so far) working. When yellow bars appear on the edges of a scene, the tape is conveying data to the VMIV. Do *not* fast-forward, rewind, or pause the tape! When the yellow bars disappear, the VMIV will soon be playing an interactive program. The interactive program relies on timing information from the tape, so once again- do *not* fast-forward, reqind, or pause the tape during this time! Between interactive segments and program downloading, it is theoretically safe to manipulate the VCR without disturbing the VMIV... however, in games where a score is accumulated until the very end of the program, such as in Disney's Cartoon Arcade, it's a good idea to not do so. If you wish to not play an entire tape, but want to play only a specific portion, rewind/fast-forward to just before the yellow bars appear before the segment you wish to play. -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- V- Hints, Tips, and Tricks -since different VCRs play at different speeds, and the VMIV is dependent on the VCR as a timer for games, it would be theoretically possible to score higher on action games on a slower VCR. I had an old 70's VHS VCR that consistently allowed me to shovel more coal for Goofy in DCA than on my 80's VCR. -On the football catching event in DCA, a slight tap of the button is all that's needed to catch the ball. Holding the button in prolongs the hold and wastes time. -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- VI- Links and resources auctions: (search for InteractiveVision and Interactive Vision) www.ebay.com www.amazon.com newsgroups: rec.games.video.classic A general discussion group for older systems. web sites: (none yet) -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ VII- Contact information Please send me comments, suggestions, game reviews or ratings, or anything else you'd like to see added! (Please note that I reserve the right to edit, publish, or not publish things as I see fit.) Please let me know how you wish to be credited within the FAQ, and whether you want your e-mail published or not. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (remove the Infocom word) Postal: Robert Morgan PMB 281 8081 S. Madison Ave. Indianapolis IN 46227-6001 -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- VIII- To be added- help probably needed. -reviews of all games -ratings for all games -reports of rarity, to properly adjust in list -people to experiment with copying to VHS and other formats; I have 5 tapes (soon to be on loan) that can be used as guinea pigs. -access to Muppet games -history timeline of the VMIV -? See anything missing? It's *your* contribution! -_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- IX- Thanks Sylvain De Chantal- for inspiring me to contribute something again, as useless as it is. Lindsey Morgan- however long she stays married to me, for putting up with my weird hobbies.