12bit Blog

12 in 1 Colour Games Console

Posted by taizou at 2014-02-11 02:40:23 Misc handhelds, Jungletac

So I've covered the Game King previously as an example of a Chinese handheld with its own proprietary cartridge format - a bona fide almost-Gameboy in the tradition of the mighty Gamate and various others littering the pages of gaming history - but much (much) more common these days are the all-in-one type affairs, those which usually take the sort of hardware previously found in plug and play TV systems and forgo any kind of cartridge slot in favour of bundling a selection of pre-loaded games. One of the more successful in this field has been Jungletac, the company behind:

the 12 in 1 Colour Games Console! Yep, a games console in colour. Exciting. If it was 1997. Or if you've just been playing on a Game King, I suppose. This particular version was distributed by Premier Portfolio International, a UK based company seemingly engaged in the supply of overpriced crap for in-flight shopping catalogues and the like (although I got this one on eBay). The side of the box describes it as "fun for all ages" and claims "twelve arcade games in one", by the way, although that's the usage of the word "arcade" meaning "games that have never been anywhere near an arcade but they look like they sort of could have in a weird alternate version of the 90s".

Out of the box, the console now refers to itself as a "Classic Max Pocket", which is Jungletac's usual name for this line. As for the hardware, it's quite an unremarkable little design, sadly lacking in frills like a headphone port or TV out (other Jungletac handhelds do have them but it seems to be the distributor's choice whether to include them or not) but the d-pad is fine (if shiny; apologies for the fingerprints), the buttons are fine, and the screen is nice, as I will attempt to illustrate by taking a picture without the flash:

That's Jungle Soft's logo, by the way, Jungletac's name for their internal game development division; all the games here have a 2007 Jungle Soft copyright, although they have been known to outsource (particularly to Nice Code) so the games here may or may not be 100% their work - but I think they probably are. And those games are:

  1. Bubble Blaster - Just a Puzzloop clone. Or possibly a Zuma clone, which would make it a clone of a clone. Maybe you could even call it a Luxor clone if you like - there are just infinite onion layers of unoriginality where this game is concerned. Either way it's a fairly well-done implementation of the concept - the controls work nicely and it never feels like your balls are sticking in the wrong place like some of the lowlier clones, so no complaints here.
  2. Jewel Master - Columns clone! Actually judging from a few telltale elements (like the use of the word "Jewelry") it's probably a clone of Hwang Shinwei's unlicensed NES Columns clone Magic Jewelry (a common multicart staple back in the day). what is it with this thing and clones of clones? if it was still 2010 I might be inclined to use the word "cloneception" (but it isn't, so I won't (except just then))

  1. Night Wings - a horizontally scrolling shooter, pretty much like Scramble. Or exactly like Scramble, with better graphics and some irritating farty music.
  2. Space Castle - A Space Invaders clone. except there are some powerups and for some reason it's set in front of a rollercoaster.
  3. Move Fun - A Bejeweled-type game with a mouse, and some fruit, and the most generic name ever given to anything ever.
  4. Push the Box - Oh go on, guess. (it's a Sokoban clone)

  1. Hero Legend - Clone of Don Doko Don featuring someone who looks vaguely like Link. in red. This one suffers from some severe slowdown though, which is a shame.
  2. Win or Lose - Some kind of mad bastard Breakout where infinite balls just rain down at you from the top of the screen and you have to bat them away for points. Possibly an odd choice of name in that this is the only game in the system in which you can't win or lose, you always play for a fixed amount of time and just attempt to beat your high score.

  1. North Salvation - A Mr. Driller clone! Mr. Driller doesn't get cloned enough, honestly. This version is reframed as, I guess, someone digging in the Arctic for some reason, and instead of air capsules you have to collect heat capsules. Also all their efforts at disguising the game are kinda thwarted by the fact that they just went and put "Driller" at the top of the screen. Unfortunately it's waaayy too slow which kinda kills the fun of the original :(
  2. Mini Golf - pretty self-explanatory I think. mini golf game. it works.
  3. Hard Win - Another one of those names that tells you absolutely nothing about the game. Basically a stream of coloured balls come from a thing at the top, flow down a series of pipes and you have to move some pipes or flippers so they're sorted into the correct coloured jars. It's not as boring as I just made it sound.
  4. Gear Race - An overhead-view vertical racing game, sort of like Road Fighter except you can (and indeed should) just ram all the other drivers into the side of the road.

As per usual this also comes with a manual in a few different languages; the English version seems like it was written by at least two different people with wildly different levels of English proficiency, so Bubble Blaster has a nice coherent description in reasonable English and then Night Wings comes along with something like "This is continue to use the core game rule of the plane fire"

Anyway, I said I'd come back to the box, and here's why:

The back of the box has a selection of screenshots of the games' title screens, but some of the screenshots here actually contain considerably more detail than the versions displayed by the console. An easy one to compare is Space Castle since it's right there on the front; here's the box screenshot vs what it actually looks like:

This, coupled with the slowdown in a couple of the games, would seem to suggest they originally ran on more powerful hardware and have been ported down to whatever this thing runs; there are maybe five or more different variations of 16(ish) bit hardware used in Jungletac consoles, so presumably these screenshots show the original versions.

Also, like pretty much every Jungletac console, this thing holds a secret - hold down A and B when you turn the power on and you get this little self-test screen:

... So that's it! Not a bad little console really, although its selection of 12 games seems positively minimalist in comparison to later Chinese handhelds that come in closer to (and sometimes even above) the 100 mark. Which I'll have to cover at some point. And it'll take me ages. ;_;



1Posted by Smedis2 at 2014-02-12 00:17:40

Space Castle has an 8-bit Plug and Play counterpart. Actually, it has TWO.
One has original music and is more polished while the other is crappier and has stock Jungletac NES music.

2Posted by RobGBA at 2014-02-12 00:41:33

Wow, this actually looks decent. :o Seeing a Mr. Driller clone on a handheld like this is quite impressive, IMO. I really like reading about this stuff, keep the posts coming!

3Posted by taizou at 2014-02-12 01:26:08

Yeah the Mr. Driller clone is nice, its just a shame its too slow - I think I have a version on another console that runs at a more acceptable speed though, hopefully I'll get around to covering that soonish

4Posted by no at 2014-02-21 03:05:03

I dunno who the hero of Hero Legend is, but those enemies are clearly Seiken Densetsu rabites with the tail trimmed off (probably from Secret of Mana). That's actually a pretty good trick - makes them look kind of like ghosts. Are there different enemies at higher levels?

(I wouldn't be surprised if the hammer from Hero Legend's box back title screen is taken from Kirby or Hammerin' Harry)

I know the audio isn't usually particularly enjoyable, but what kind of sound hardware do these systems usually use? Is it akin to anything that was ever used in consoles/handhelds/arcade boards?

5Posted by taizou at 2014-02-22 01:17:15

ah yeah, I've never played Secret of Mana but I see the resemblance. There are maybe 3 or 4 more enemy types that I've seen - I don't recognise them from anywhere else but theyre stylistically inconsistent enough that I wouldn't be surprised if they were ripped from other games.

The sound hardware in these things depends entirely on the system-on-a-chip in there - generally in 16-bit consoles like this one (mostly Sunplus hardware I think) the music sounds fairly MIDI-esque, but it's hard to say exactly what it is since Sunplus aren't very open with documentation. Then there are the ultimately NES-based ones like VT03 where the NES sound is still in place; some later/cheaper Jungletac "16-bit" consoles use this kind of hardware and just recycle music from their NES games. A few other developers like Waixing and Cube Tech just used ripped music samples in their games though.

6Posted by UksiHattu12 at 2014-05-12 13:05:53

I have this console and i got it when i was on airplane at 2008 or 2007. It stills work, but i cant hear sound effects&music.

7Posted by Aj at 2014-11-17 06:48:43

games space castle
12345678910 stages and more!