Bandai Pippin ATMARK \ @WORLD
Type Console Developer Apple \ Bandai Digital Entertainment
Release Date 1995-Mar-28 Region(s) North America, Japan, Europe
Initial Price $599 USD Games Released Approximately 85
DW FACTS
     by Dark Watcher
In the early 1990s, the price and interest in personal computers was not as it used to be.  Many companies were converting their devices into so called video game consoles in order to capitalize on the industry.  Apple also fell into this category.  They took their second generation Power Macintosh, slimmed it down to a console like device and then began to license out the technology similar to what was being done by a company called 3DO.  The first company to license the Apple Pippin technology was Japanese toy and anime publisher Bandai.  "Pippin" technology made its debut in Japan in December 1995.

Originally Apple and Bandai had intended the Pippin to be a game system that would support other computer functions.  Basically, this machine is a Macintosh computer at heart.  With a PowerPC 603 RISC CPU, this machine had the potential to produce some amazing graphics and control that could have rivaled the PlayStation had it been properly supported.

While its true that Apple planned on marketing this system as a game machine, it was also going to support a large variety of educational software.  The apparent failure of the 3DO scared Apple into rethinking this strategy.  Apple and Bandai switched gears and decided that this system would be sold as an internet device.  At this same time, the Internet was really taking off.  Anyone who introduced a product without an internet spin on it would be largely ignored.  So, Apple and Bandai re-spun the Pippin as an internet appliance that also played games.  That decision didn't work either, because, by the time the Pippin was ready to go, PC prices had dropped even more.
The Pippin simply wasn't enough of a price break from a real computer and the public wasn't ready to surf the web from their television sets.  In a last ditch effort, almost unnoticed by everyone, the Pippin was marketed as a set-top-box.  Basically, an all-in-one system that will get you online, do computing tasks and play games.  When this reinvention failed, Bandai ceased support for the system and moved on to another similar project (Sega Netlink). 
 
The unit, produced in white for the Japanese market (Pippin ATMARK) and black for the U.S. market (Pippin @WORLD) made a silent disappearance from shelves.  Less than 12,000 units were sold in the U.S., and it is believed that as few as 5,000 units were actually sold to consumers.  Of those, only a fraction remain.
 
This system, due to its obvious rarity, has become a collectors "Holy Grail" of gaming console hardware.  Even if you were lucky enough to buy one, the software is even more difficult to find.  If you buy a system, it may remain on the shelf, unused for years, until you can locate any games for it.  Since Bandai had a stake in the system, many of their character licenses were made into games.  These games are obviously the rarest versions of the game available.
 
FACT:  A Norwegian based company called Katz Media released the Pippin in select European markets. The unit retailed from 400 to 550 British pounds. 
HANDS ON REVIEW
     by Marriott_Guy
During the early 1990s, many developers flooded the video game console market with attempts at being home multimedia centers - all-in-one units capable of performing supplementary functions in addition to their primary gaming platform purpose.  The consumer was treated, but at most times disappointed, with releases like the Philips CD-i, Memorex VIS, Pioneer LaserActive and the Panasonic 3DO.  In 1995, Apple Computer Inc. joined the foray by finishing the development of a system based on a scaled down version of their System 7 OS.  Named the Pippin, Apple followed the 3DO Company's lead by licensing this technology to an outside manufacturer - Bandai Digital Entertainment.

The Bandai Pippin ATMARK was released in Japan in 1995 and was marketed as the first modern hybrid console merging the power of a computer with the ease of a gaming station - as well as integrated network capabilities (hence the connotation in the name).  The Pippin was released to the public in four different models:
  • 1995 - Bandai Pippin ATMARK - Japan (white model)
  • 1995 - Bandai Pippin @WORLD - USA (black model)
  • 1996 - Bandai Pippin ATMARK - Japan (black model)
  • 1997 - Katz Media Player KMP 2000 - Europe

Technologically, there are basically no differences between the three systems that I am aware of.  All come equipped with the same features and user interface (buttons/ports/etc.).  Since all three are the same machine, the consoles will be referred to as the Pippin in the following paragraphs.

An attractive piece of hardware, the Pippin weighs in at a hefty 8 lbs and is sturdily built.  The user-friendly control panel is featured on the top of this slightly curved console.  One keyboard and two ADB (Apple Desktop Bus) controller ports are easily accessible on the front of the system.  Being a gaming system that was trying to encompass characteristics of a MAC computer, network connectivity was supported right out of the box with the included 14.4k external modem.  Further supporting this all-in-one theme, two serial ports (modem/printer), a PCI compatible expansion slot and a keyboard / writing tablet were standard on all units.  The surprisingly fast 4x CD-ROM drive performed far better than the its competitors (the Sony PlayStation, released the same year, only had a 2x Max drive).

The hard plastic chassis encompasses a mini-MAC under its hood.  The PowerPC 603 RISC microprocessor ran at 66MHz and was supported by 6 MB of RAM memory (shared between the system and video output) and 128 KB of internal NVRAM.  Both 8 bit and 16 bit video is supported and graphics are displayed 16.7M colors.  Audio is delivered in full 16-bit stereo (44 kHz sampled output).  At the time, the Bandai Pippin was technically a very powerful machine compared to the main competition at the time - 3DO, Philips CD-i and the Sony PlayStation.  The important question - How was all of this muscle and power put to use in game development?  The answer - not very well.
The Bandai Pippin ran games using an abbreviated MAC System 7 OS (operating system), which was actually included on every compatible CD.  Small updates to the core system files (stored in the NVRAM) were delivered and included on respective new title releases.  Like the Sony PlayStation, there is a boot sequence that performs an authentication process to validate CDs.  Small, but efficient banana-styled wired game controllers feature an analog D-pad, 4 color-coded action buttons and a centrally located mouse-like roller.  The Bandai Pippin combined Japan/USA library consists of approximately 85 titles - mostly edutainment offerings with a sprinkling of games.  The console was packed with usually 6 additional applications, coupled with a web browser application to allow internet website viewing on your television.  This was a first for a video game console - WebTV type access and the possibility of online gaming.  Unfortunately, very few titles were available at the time of its release and incompatibility with existing MAC software was just one of many nails in the coffin for this system.

The Bandai Pippin, though technologically superior at the time, failed miserably on many levels.  The first error was the positioning of this console within the market - a multimedia, mini-MAC, internet ready, gaming machine.  Though the ambitious nature of their goals should be commended, the Apple R&D team on a whole should not.  The general population was not yet ready to embrace this type of all-in-one unit.  The internet at that time was not considered the 'utility' as it is today.  As detailed earlier, lack of first\third party software support and compatibility was also an issue.  Then there was the initial price tag - $599 USD.  This put the Bandai Pippin out of reach for the majority of the buying public.  With the price of computers dropping due to rapid advances in technology, this all-in-one unit was quickly an out-dated piece of hardware when it was released.  Going against the Sony PlayStation (amongst others) did not help either.  Only around 5,000 units were actually sold in the USA, though the system did fare just a bit better in Japan.  In fact, more peripheral devices were manufactured (and since sold off for parts) than actual consoles produced.
Overall, the Bandai Pippin was a more powerful and technically capable machine in 1995 compared to the eventual juggernaut Sony PlayStation - if it had competed as a pure gaming console.  Poor market strategy and positioning, coupled with an attempt to drive an internet\computer hybrid console to a still technologically adolescent market was the primary downfall.  The foundation and inspiration of online gaming and the network\internet realities we now see from the current generation of consoles (Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii) can be attributed in part to the Bandai Pippin.

This console is recommended for console collectors only. Though produced in limited quantities, the Bandai Pippin is available through auction sites and private sellers.  The original white Japanese ATMARK (white) is not hard to locate but the black version (unsold @WORLD units from the USA that were modified/rebranded for the Japanese market)) is much more difficult to acquire.  The @WORLD system is the most desirable of the standard retail models due to its low production run, but this uniqueness will set you back quite a few greenbacks.  I have never seen the Katz Media Player (KMP 2000) actually for sale, but know a person that has acquired one through a private trade.  I would hate to even ask what he had to fork over to net that rare bird.
 
MODELS
     Officially licensed releases
Bandai Pippin ATMARK (Japan)
Bandai Pippin ATMARK logo

Bandai Pippin @WORLD (North America)
Bandai Pippin @WORLD logo

Katz Media Player KMP 2000 (Europe)

 
CLONES
     Non-licensed hardware releases
No clones were released for this system.
 
CONSOLE RATINGS
     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.

CRITERIA RATING NOTES & COMMENTS
Console Design 08 I am a fan of the modern, sleek look of the Pippin.  Ports are all easy accessible and well positioned.  The CD operational buttons located on the top of the unit are a nice touch as well.
Console Durability 08 Even though there is allot going on with the Pippin, these systems are extremely durable from my experience.  The CD drive is rather loud, but I have never had any issues with the console.
Controllers 04 Though innovative and relatively comfortable, I am not a big fan of the AppleJack controller.  The button configuration is acceptable, but the embedded mini-trackball is rather small and difficult to use.
Graphics 06 Though a powerful system, most titles do not take advantage of the graphical capabilities of the Pippin.  The few that do are well presented with rich detail and fluid on-screen visuals.
Audio 09 Audio is delivered in full 16-bit stereo (44 kHz sampled output) which was excellent compared to its primary competition.
Media 08 In addition to the its own CD-ROM offerings, the Pippin was compatible with certain Power Mac titles.
Gamer Value 02 Though the library is surprisingly large, the game offerings are extremely limited and consist mostly of ports from other systems.  The few exclusives are very good (e.g. Racing Days, Super Marathon).
Collector Value 09 Though produced in limited quantities, the Bandai Pippin is readily available.  The original white Japanese ATMARK (white) is not hard to locate but the black version (unsold @WORLD units from the USA that were modified/rebranded for the Japanese market) is much more difficult to acquire.  The @WORLD system (besides the Katz edition) is the most desirable of the standard retail models due to its low production run, but this uniqueness will set you back quite a few greenbacks.

FORMAT, PACKAGING & GENERAL INFO
     Interesting facts on software for this system
Software for the Bandai Pippin was distributed in the CD format, with some titles offering additional content on 3.5" floppy disks.
 
For for the native Japanese market, most games were packaged in jewel cases, which were about twice the thickness of those utilized in standard CDs.  There isn't really any need for this variation, as the contents include the software, instruction manual and registration card (for the most part).  Though most games do not necessitate the larger sized jewel case, they do stand out in your collection.  A spine overlay, separate from the one included in the CD packaging, accompanies most games and provided extra details on the title (some even with pricing).  Packaging did vary, with some title being distributed in large, cardboard Mac-style boxes.
 
The games released in North America were distributed in tall cardboard boxes, very similar to the packaging used for the 3DO but a bit wider.  These cartons featuring a bright royal blue background along with the game information.

Sample Game Play
Games, regardless of region, are very rare and hard to find.  The crown jewel is Super Marathon (pictured directly below). This title contains both Marathon 1 and Marathon 2, the spiritual predecessors to Microsoft's Halo series for the Xbox \ Xbox 360.

Bandai Pippin Game Boxes
Bandai Pippin game collection
Bandai Pippin game collection
Bandai Pippin game collection
 
SCREENSHOTS
     Captured in-game images
Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia
Pippin Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia screenshot
Pippin Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia screenshot
Dragon Ball Z Anime Designer
Pippin Dragon Ball Z Anime Designer screenshot
Pippin Dragon Ball Z Anime Designer screenshot
Gadget
Pippin Gadget screenshot
Pippin Gadget screenshot
Gundam Tactics: Mobility Fleet 0079
Pippin Gundam Tactics: Mobility Fleet 0079 screenshot
Pippin Gundam Tactics: Mobility Fleet 0079 screenshot
PEASE Turbo
Pippin PEASE Turbo screenshot
Pippin PEASE Turbo screenshot
Pegasus Prime
Piippin Pegasus Prime screenshot
Piippin Pegasus Prime screenshot
Power Rangers Zeo vs. The Machine EmpirePippin Power Rangers Zeo vs. The Machine Empire screenshot
Pippin Power Rangers Zeo vs. The Machine Empire screenshot
Racing Days
Pippin Racing Days screenshot
Pippin Racing Days screenshot
Shockwave: Invasion Earth 2019
Pippin Shockwave: Invasion Earth 2019 screenshot
Pippin Shockwave: Invasion Earth 2019 screenshot
Super Marathon
Pippin Super Marathon screenshot
Pippin Super Marathon screenshot
Terror T.R.A.X.
Pippin Terror T.R.A.X. screenshot
Pippin Terror T.R.A.X. screenshot
Thomas the Tank
Pippin Thomas the Tank screenshot
Pippin Thomas the Tank screenshot
Turnin' Glue
Pippin Turnin' Glue screenshot
Pippin Turnin' Glue screenshot
TV Works
Pippin TV Works screenshot
Pippin TV Works screenshot
 
EMULATION
     First and third party system emulators
Pippin was essentially a Macintosh computer in console clothing.  The software should be playable on Mac (or using a Mac to PC Virtual PC emulator).  We have not come across an actual Pippin emulator yet.
 
SPECS & MANUALS
     For the hardware enthusiasts out there - all the detail you\we love.
Processor Type  Processor Speed  Other Processor Information RAM \ Video RAM
PowerPC 603 RISC Microprocessor 66 MHz 8 KB data cache 6 MB (Shared)
Screen Resolution Color Palette Polygons \ Sprites Audio
640 x 480 16.7M colors Unknown Stereo 16 bit 44 kHz sampled
Media Format Media Capacity Games Released Other Supported Formats
CD-ROM (4X SCSI drive) 700 MB Approx. 85
(does not include utility software)
CD-ROM, Audio CD, 1.44 Floppy
Internal Storage External \ Removable Storage Game Controllers Other Game \ Peripheral Devices
128 KB Flash ROM Memory expansion cards (2\4\8 MB) Enhanced control pad
with imbedded trackball
Keyboard, mouse, 1.44 MB floppy drive, 28.8K modem, Writing Tablet
Controller Ports Network Ports Other Ports Audio \ Video
Two (2) 28.8K modem port (GeoPort ready) Printer serial port (1), ADB ports (2),
PCI expansion slot
Composite, S-Video, VGA
Power Supply - Internal Other Outputs  Other Details \ Notes
AC 100\240V, 50\60Hz, 0.5A
(Switchable)
NTSC \ PAL Switchable Compatible with CD-R @ 4x Write Speed
Manuals
Bandai Pippin @WORLD Owners Manual (PDF) - 13.3 MB
Bandai Pippin @WORLD Quick Set-Up Guide (PDF) - 0.17 MB

OTHER MEDIA
     Peripherals, Promotions, Commercials, Brochures, Etc.
Bandai Pippin Review from 1995 and Demonstration

Bandai Pippin @WORLD - Writing Tablet

Bandai Pippin Game CD Packaging
1995.1.17 Hanshin Daishinsai
AI Shogi
Chisato Moritaka CD-Rom Watarase Bashi
Circus
Dazzeloids
EGWORD Pure
Funky Funny Aliens
Gakko no kowai uwasa Hanakosan ga kita
L-Zone Interactive Theater
Music ISLAND Vol-1: Peter and the Wolf
Music ISLAND Vol-2: The Nutcracker
Music ISLAND Vol-3: The Four Seasons
Music ISLAND Vol-4: Carnival of Animals
PEASE
SeesawC 2: My Favorite Places
T-Break
Victorian Park
Yoku Mite Goran

 
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     Visitor insights and feedback
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