Epoch Cassette Vision logo Epoch Cassette Vision
Type Console Developer Epoch Co., LTD
Release Date 1981-Jul-30 Region(s) Japan
Initial Price $135 USD Games Released 11
     by Dark Watcher
The Cassette Vision was a Japanese console released on June 30th, 1981 by a company named Epoch.  The console retailed for a nice low cost of 13,500 Yen (around $135USD) with games retailing at 4000 Yen.  This made the Cassette Vision a good economical choice for gaming.
The graphics on the Cassette Vision were very basic and blocky.  Both the games and cartridges (size and plastic boxes) are strangely similar to the Hanimex HMG-7900...although the console itself is reported to be more powerful.

The Cassette Vision was essentially a combination of cart based and Pong based games.  The large surface contained a number of built in controls.  The controllers were two metal knobs built into the unit at the bottom which controlled only horizontal movement.  There were also 4 fire buttons labeled PUSH-1 thru PUSH-4.  There is also a power on/off switch, SELECT, AUX. and START buttons for game selection.

The COURSE and sliding 'Selection' controls were the "Pong like" aspects of the console.  These were used for carts such as Big Sports 12 to select the different pong variations (12 games ...duh).  This is also where the upper paddles found on each side come into play.  One paddle moved your pong paddle horizontal, and the other vertical.  This gave a unique feel to pong.
There were not a lot of cartridges released for it.  The game that made the console a big seller was Kikori No Yosaku.  In the game you must chop down trees while avoiding a raging boar, a snake and a bird that will crap on you from above (one of those strange but fun Japanese games).  It is reported (but not confirmed yet) that the maker of the game was either SNK or Sega.  Other games include Galaxian, Big Sports 12 (Pong games), Baseball, Astro Command, Elevator Panic, Monster Mansion, Battle Vader and Monster Block.

The console must have done quite well since it churned out successors. Epoch capitalized on its success with the Cassette Vision.  In 1983 they released a scaled down and even cheaper version (Only 5000 Yen) called the Cassette Vision Jr.  The lower cost helped Epoch keep Cassette Vision carts in production.  They later released its successor the Super Cassette Vision in 1984.
     by Marriott_Guy
Epoch, better know for their game software and toy products, was actually very involved with hardware development in Japan dating back to their first console release in July 1981 - the Epoch Cassette Vision.  This very obscure system was actually a hybrid pong/cartridge-based unit - the first of its kind in Japan.  Though financial windfalls were never achieved, the moderate success that the Cassette Vision did enjoy was due to one reason - correct price positioning.

In 1979, Bandai was the first to release the first programmable game cartridge in Japan with their release of the Super Vision 8000.  This new technology (to the Japan market) would cost you $560 USD ($1,300 in 2007 dollars).  Epoch, having been a first hand witness to this console's eventual failure, wisely decided to produce a system at an affordable price point for the general buying public.  The Cassette Vision was released for $135 USD ($275 USD in 2007 dollars), which was much more palatable to the still relatively virgin Japanese gaming market.  The big question - was this a good value?

As stated in previous reviews, pong based consoles enjoyed a prolonged following in Japan well into the early 1980s while the video game player in the USA had been exposed to the new programmable game cartridge systems much earlier (1976).  Epoch attempted to capitalize in both of these arenas - the Cassette Vision supported both pong and programmable game cartridge technology.  To be able to adequately describe how this was possible requires a little more information on how the pong industry evolved.

During the mid to late 1970s, technology was evolving at a very fast pace, primarily on the hardware side.  Pong games grew more complex and greater variations were able to be produced.  What had occurred in the past was that a new pong console was developed and then released under a new version/name every time a jump in technology was introduced.  Obviously, this was a costly venture for the various console manufacturers.  At the same time, the size of the new components that were used to drive the machines, and included pong games, decreased.  Together, these advances in hardware lead to the development of 'pong on a chip' game cartridges.

Essentially, the manufacture could produce a base pong system with a standard set of hardware installed and a new pong game cartridge would contain not only the game itself but also a processing chip.  This chip was used to in essence 'upgrade' the base system's hardware to enable game play with the new software.  Distributing technology in the form of a game cartridge was much more cost effective, not too mention efficient, for the manufacturer while at the same time saved the consumer plenty as well by not having to upgrade their pong system all the time.  Almost all developers and manufacturers in the mid 1970s and early 1980s migrated to this method of upgrade deployment.

It seems that Epoch decided that this may be the most efficient way to support both pong and programmable game cartridges.  The Cassette Vision produced both game types (pong and programmable) at a resolution of 54 x 62 in 8 colors.  This base hardware package was very outdated at the time of release in 1981.  The console does produce sounds internally, but I am not sure of the details of the output.  The end result was that pong games looked great, but the hardware (inside the individual game cart) could only produce below average graphics for the programmable game cartridges.

The console itself is rather odd looking, but has a classy feel about it.  The rectangular grey main casing is constructive of heavy plastics and sports a black inverted T faceplate highlighting the various button and toggle switches and controls.  The controllers are built into the console.  Two paddle-type knobs flank the respective top left and right sides of the console which control horizontal and vertical movement.  Lever-1 and Lever-2, toggle-looking controls, are utilized for horizontal movement in some games and are located on the lower right and left.  Four action buttons line the bottom front of the console (labeled PUSH-1 through PUSH-4).  Other basic push-buttons (power, etc.) are featured in the center of the console.  Though this system is not small, measuring in at 13.25" W x 10.50" L 3.25" H (33.66 cm W x 26.67 cm L x 8.26 cm H), it is surprising light (3 lbs / 1.58 kg).

Epoch Cassette Vision games

There were a total of 11 games released for this system, the most notable being Yosaku, a game that involved the player to chop down trees.  The other games were Astro Command, Monster Mansion, PakPak Monster, Monster Block, Galaxian, Big Sports 12, Elevator Panic, Baseball and Battle Vader. Most are arcade clones of existing games.  Graphics are very basic and could be compared to the first games offered for the Bally Home Computer Library (blocky and pretty bad to be honest).

The Cassette Vision enjoyed mild success in Japan, enough to have a second version of the system released in 1983 called the Cassette Vision Jr.  This system was technically the same as the original, though much smaller in size and with detachable controllers.  Though not compatible with the first two editions, this line did produce in 1984 a fairly successful system in both Japan and Europe called the Super Cassette Vision.

Purchasing an original Cassette Vision can be a costly proposition - not recommended for the standard gamer. Since this, as well as the Cassette Vision Jr., were only released in Japan, shipping costs need to be considered.  Expect to shell out some serious cash for the original CIB system.

     Officially licensed releases
Epoch Cassette Vision
Epoch Cassette Vision Epoch Cassette Vision Epoch Cassette Vision
Epoch Cassette Vision Epoch Cassette Vision Epoch Cassette Vision
Epoch Cassette Vision Epoch Cassette Vision Epoch Cassette Vision

Epoch Cassette Vision Jr.
Epoch Cassette Vision Jr Epoch Cassette Vision Jr Epoch Cassette Vision Jr
Epoch Cassette Vision Jr Epoch Cassette Vision Jr Epoch Cassette Vision Jr
Epoch Cassette Vision Jr Epoch Cassette Vision Jr
Courtesy of Charles Lee
     Non-licensed hardware releases
No clones were released for this system.
     by Marriott_Guy
Consoles are rated based upon the available technology at the time of its release.  A 10 point scale is utilized, with 10 being excellent.

Console Design 04 Though I admire the innovating thinking behind the overall design, the classy look does not negate the fact that it looks like some sort of home-brew MAME cabinet gone wrong.
Console Durability 08 Since there are not a great deal of moving parts in these consoles, the Cassette Vision is extremely durable.
Controllers 02 The stacked dual control dials are extremely difficult to access due to their placement on the console.  Forget head-to-head play, unless you really, really like your playing partner.
Graphics 02 The blocky low res graphics are as basic as you can, even when compared to the limited technology of this era.  The only good thing is that there is minimal flicker, but then again there is never really that much happening on-screen at any one time.
Audio 01 The only noise this console was capable of was producing an internal 'beep' emitted through the system itself.
Media 07 The cartridges are sturdy and well constructed.  Directions for the controls are listed on the front of each cartridge, which is a nice touch.
Gamer Value 02 Though the game library is varied, there is not much available for the gamer especially when considering the high price tag that many of the titles carry due to its limited run.
Collector Value 08 Due to its limited run, the Cassette Vision is somewhat uncommon (especially boxed).  Its unique nature and look make this unit rather desirable in spite of its shortcomings.

     Interesting facts on software for this system
Epoch Cassette Vision games were packaged in plastic, clamshell style casing.  The directions were contained within a multi-fold pamphlet, which also served as cover art for the games.Games were numbered, indicated on the front cover and spine. The casing itself is surprisingly durable, though I wouldn't want to drop one onto a ceramic type floor.

Games have two variations - one that states for use with the Cassette Vision and a latter version which indicated compatibility with the remodeled Cassette Vision Jr. See the images below for screen shots and packaging.
Sample Game Play

Epoch Cassette Vision Game Boxes

     Captured in-game images
Astro Command
Epoch Cassette Vision Astro Command
Battle Vader
Epoch Cassette Vision Battle Vader
Big Sports 12
Epoch Cassette Vision Big Sports 12
Elevator Panic
Epoch Cassette Vision Elevator Panic
Epoch Cassette Vision Galaxian
Grand Champion (unreleased)
Monster Block
Epoch Cassette Vision Monster Block
Monster Mansion
Epoch Cassette Vision Monster Mansion
New Baseball
PakPak Monster
Epoch Cassette Vision PakPak Monster
Epoch Cassette Vision Yosaku
     First and third party system emulators
No emulators have been released for this system.
     For the hardware enthusiasts out there - all the detail you\we love.
Processor Type  Processor Speed  Other Processor Information RAM \ Video RAM
NEC D777C (contained on each game cart) 4-bit (?) N\A None
Screen Resolution Color Palette Polygons \ Sprites Audio
54 x 62 8 colors N\A Internal (beep)
Media Format Media Capacity Games Released Other Supported Formats
Cartridge 2 KB 11 None
Internal Storage External \ Removable Storage Game Controllers Other Game \ Peripheral Devices
None None Dials for vertical\horizontal movement, Two action buttons, one lever switch Light Gun
Controller Ports Network Ports Other Ports Audio \ Video
Two (built into system) None AUX port (for Light Gun) RF
Power Supply - External Other Outputs  Other Details \ Notes
Input: AC 100V, 50\60 Hz, 6VA
Output: DC 6V, 300 mA
None Channel 1 or 2 selector
Special thanks to Sly DC for his assistance with these specs!
Not available.  Can you help us out?  You will definitely receive full credit for your contribution.  Email MG@videogameconsolelibrary.com.

     Peripherals, Promotions, Commercials, Brochures, Etc.
Epoch Cassette Vision Television Commercial

Epoch Cassette Vision Print Promotions

     Visitor insights and feedback
Please be respectful and abide by our Terms of Use & Policies prior to posting.  Basically be nice, keep it clean and don't spam or be a troll.  Thanks!

comments powered by Disqus