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February 2015 Retro Gaming Article

February 28, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Capcom tried to compete with SNK's ability to bring arcade quality to living rooms

Capcom logo Arcades have long been the measure of console perfection. In the early 1980's there were plenty of arcade ports for the Atari 2600, Colecovision and Intellivision. As much as we enjoyed them, we knew the arcade games were superior. As the 1990's progressed, console hardware began to catch up with the quality we loved in arcades.

This improvement began to make "arcade exactness" a top priority for developers. The console that best replicated an arcade favorite would sell more cartridges. At the same time, SNK was bringing it's cartridge-based AES game system the other direction - back to the arcades! Their MVS arcade system also used carts which gave them the ability to allow the identical gaming experience in the arcade and at home.

I saw a great article on Capcom's CPS Changer home console - released only in Japan in 1994. I wasn't aware of it, but the CPS Changer has a lot of interesting features, in addition to being a failure.

Home Console vs Arcade Quality

Asteroids on Atari's 2600 vs the arcade game
BurgerTime on the Colecovision vs the arcade game BurgerTime on the Colecovision vs the arcade game.
Donkey Kong Junior on Mattel's Intellivision vs the arcade game Donkey Kong Junior on Mattel's Intellivision vs the arcade game.

Capcom's Power System Changer

With the importance of replicating arcade games for the home console market in the 90s, why not simply duplicate them? It was working for SNK's AES console and Capcom came up with the Power System Changer based on it's CPS1 arcade board. Capcom had many successful arcade titles so it would seem that creating a home system to play them would be a success. However, part of a successful console comes from a diversity of developers creating titles for it.

Capcom's Power System Changer The article I referenced above sheds light on an interesting distinction of the CPS Changer and seemingly similar systems like the AES. The CPS Changer used self-contained systems, so each software module had its own CPU, audio amplifier, ROMs and everything needed to operate without any extra electronics.

The CPS Changer system itself was more of an adaptor than a console - it didn't add anything but different connectors. With that in mind, it's easy to see how the CPS Changer was more of an accessory to allow the sale of arcade games into the home market.

If you think of it as an adapter, it gave the consumer market the ability to plug it into a TV and use SNES controllers. The CPS Changer was about $200 cheaper than an AES console, but if it was more of a shell that enabled playing the arcade modules, I wonder how expensive the "games' were.

Capcom's Power System Changer Only 11 games were released for the system. Capcom Quiz World 2, Muscle Bomber 2, Captain Commando, Street fighter 2, Final Fight, Street Fighter 2 Turbo, King of Dragons, Street Fighter Zero, Knights of Round Tenshi wo Kurau 2, Muscle Bomber.

The CPS Changer is quite rare being released only in Japan for a limited time. There is speculation as to how such a whacky console adapter?) wound up on the market. Some say Japan was in a time of experimentation where companies had money and were eager to experiment. This is the sort of item that makes the game industry a interesting place. Who knows what may come next...

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