Arcade Meets Konix

I was the software development manager at the new game software publisher Electrocoin / DeGale. Electrocoin was (and still is) a major arcade distributor that had partnered up with ex-Konami European GM Luther DeGale. I was fresh from working for Andromeda after bringing in Tetris through the Trammel (Atari) boys.

I was hired because of my arcade knowledge, commissioned to develop ports of three games from SNK, Universal and Taito that Electrocoin had licensed for the Commodore 64, Spectrum and plans for Amiga development. One day I have my then Boss (Luther) walk in and ask me what I had thought of my visit to Toy Fair and the Konix launch. I mentioned misgivings and a little derision and then he dropped the bombshell.

A few days later I was parking my car at a hotel outside the market town where the developers were based and booked in for a two day secret seminar for initial Konix Multi-system developers. I knew most of the guys there, ranging from Ocean to Llamasoft. The sad fact was that there was already serious doubt about the reality of seeing a machine released, before the meeting started.

You have to remember that I have been involved in gaming since PET and TRS80 days, first as a hobbyist player, then as a reviewer and then as a development manager / game advisor - not a programmer, but had had my first game published (Bear George) back in 1985. I had recently sat through a very slick presentation for the ELAN computer that had had a bigger budget and disappeared without a trace, and looking at the Konix wooden mock-up then, I had the same misgiving.

So we listened to the promises and the development budget, and the first strike titles and the second strike. At the end of the drinking and talking, and the photo shoot with Jeff sitting in the Power Chair, I got back in my car and drove back to the office. Told my boss that out of the games we had in development we could turn Mr. Do Wild Ride into a Konix title and we paid our initial £1,000 for a development kit that turned up and did not work - it got sent back and a second came very much later.

I have made this sound a lot simpler that it was. I know that my boss had to offer a lot of deals to get on the second line developer list, and even with that we had difficulties getting commitments - the magazine hype did no one any favours. I focused on the development of the C64 and Spectrum titles and let the dev system for the Konix gather dust on the top of my filing cabinet - finally being skipped when Konix went to the wall and we moved offices.

Actual work that was done on the Konix development kit was porting the C64 version onto part of the dev system. The lack of technical support and manuals caused the developer to give up in frustration. My last dealing with the Konix hardware was when I had moved back to the amusement sector and was asked about the chip-set for use in a Barcrest AWP system - I was involved then with amusement projects and passed on getting involved. It's also funny to think that Electrocoin got involved with selling the first NeoGeo consoles into the UK.

My feeling about the concept was that it was more peripheral than console - the machine would have worked well in the toy scene, and would have been an interesting concept for the mid-90's market but was too ambitious for the late-80's. The problems with the Power Chair let alone the reliability of the console all added up to too much for too little.