One Year Ago: The Nintendo AVS

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) launched on October 18, 1985 in the wider New York City area. It has yet to launch nationwide, but hopes are high it will later this year. A year ago, at the January 1985 CES show in Las Vegas, Nintendo was trying to gauge retailer interest in their gaming machine, which was called the Nintendo Advanced Video System (AVS).

AVS Brochure4-Combined
An overview of the pamphlet handed out at the 1985 Winter CES.

Apparently that showing didn’t go off without a few hitches, as the entire system was scrapped, as were many of the accessories: such as the wireless controllers, the disc drive, and the keyboard. Moving away from a computerized aesthetic, Nintendo redesigned the console to look more like an entertainment device, such as a VCR, and also bundled it with a Zapper light gun and an interactive robot, R.O.B. We’ve come across some of the documentation given out last year, and you’ll notice that it shows off a very different system, resembling that of a traditional gaming console mixed with a Commodore 64. Most of the games shown back then are pretty much the same ones that eventually launched with the NES back in October, with the exception of Donkey Kong 3 (scheduled to release later this year), and Nintendo 500 (a racing game that still hasn’t materialized).

Although the AVS didn’t have a robot, I feel it looked more futuristic than the NES that did make it to market. The wireless controllers would have been a great feature, assuming battery life and latency weren’t an issue. The ability to program games and record data would have been a nice addition as well. The joystick and light gun would have especially benefited from wireless functionality. Still, one has to wonder if maybe the price point would have been too high had all of this technology been bundled in. Indeed, fragmenting the market by selling these accessories separately wouldn’t have helped matters either. So, perhaps all is for the best. Who knows, maybe Nintendo will eventually release these add-ons for the NES at a later date?

These pictures are from the 1985 Winter CES show floor where Nintendo had the AVS on display to test drive. Scans are from Beep magazine, and courtesy of Brain Breaker via the NintendoAge Forums.

Last, but certainly not least, are several articles from Computer Entertainer. They attended last year’s show and had some positive things to say about the AVS, especially the fun games. I was pleased to read about how crowded Nintendo’s booth was and that video games are very much alive. Scans courtesy of Frank Cifaldi (@frankcifaldi).

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