By: Joey Connelly (aka "JoAnkhamun" & "The Jaded Gamer")
Originally published on NESfan.com - 02/08/2001
An Unexpected NES Surprise
So there I was, perusing the aisles of the electronics department at my local Wal-Mart, when all of a sudden, something up on a high shelf caught my eye. It was a contraption called the "Game Station Arcade", and oddly enough, it featured a screenshot of the Color Dreams NES game, "Master Chu and the Drunkard Hu" on the front of the box. Well I just had to see this peculiar item, so after some assistance from a helpful ladder toting "Wally World" employee, I had the object of my attention in hand.
As it turns out, the "Game Station Arcade" (manufactured by "Pelican Accessories") is a mock Sega Dreamcast controller that houses a pseudo NES chipset, 15 complete NES games from Color Dreams & Bunch games, and a built-in rumble pak. These type of things have been for sale at Flea Markets and on the internet for quite a while now, but I was quite shocked to see them at Wal-Mart. At the "everyday low price" of $17.00 (marked down from $20 - no, people aren't exactly lining up to buy these things), I figured it was worth a purchase, just for the novelty of it if anything else.
The first thing I thought upon opening the box, was that if the games actually ran well, then the "Game Station Arcade" was quite a bargain. Aside from the controller/system, the package also included an RF Cable, AV Cable, and an AC Adapter. Everything you need to use the "Station" is included, which is very nice. Especially in this day and age of skimpy video game packaging that requires you to buy just about everything seperately.
Hooking It All Up
Hooking the "Station" up was easy enough. Simply plug the AV Cables (or RF Cable) and AC Adapter into the top of the controller, plug the AV Cables into your tv, and insert the AC Adapter into an electrical outlet and you're ready to go. The RF and AV Cables are a nice 8 ft in length, so sitting a comfortable distance away from the tv is possible. However, the AC Adapter cable is a disappointing 4 ˝ ft in length, so unless you have an electrical outlet really close to your sitting area, you may have to break out an extension cord.
As I mentioned, the CPU and games of the "Station" are built into a modified, mock Sega Dreamcast controller. The front of the controller features a digital directional pad & analog control stick (there's no analog compatability with any of the games, so both pads work identically), 1 Player - 2 Player toggle switch, Select Button, Start Button, Reset Button, A Button, B Button, two other buttons marked with arrows that merely mimic the A & B Buttons, and an On/Off Switch at the top of the controller. Also, there is a built-in Rumble Pak embedded into the part of the controller where the Sega VMU unit(s) would normally plug into the Dreamcast Controller.
When you turn on the "Station" by sliding the on/off switch at the top of the controller, you are greeted with a game selection screen (entitled "Rumble Station: 15 in 1") that features falling stars in the background as well as some happy little music. By either pressing Up/Down on either of the directional pads or by pressing the Select Button, you can move between the various games. Pressing the Start Button naturally begins the game that you have chosen.
There are 13 "Color Dreams" games included in the "Station": Baby Boomer, Captain Comic, Challenge of the Dragon, Crystal Mines, Master Chu, King Neptune's Adventure, Menace Beach, Pesterminator, Raid 2020, Secret Scout, The P'radikus Conflict, Operation Secret Storm, and Robodemons (or as the back of the box lists it "Robodenons"), and 2 "Bunch Games": Galactic Crusader & Moon Ranger. Unfortunately, the packaging does not include anything that even remotely resembles helpful instructions for the games included. There is a "Game List" that includes "Briefs" on how to play the games, but they're quite laughable to say the least.
To be honest, I didn't expect much from the "Game Arcade Station". I figured it would reproduce poor audio and image quality, as well as poor peformance. I mean, you get what you pay for right? I'm glad to report however, that the performance is great. The audio/video reproduction is superb (there are no clipping music tracks or graphics with vertical lines), and the overall CPU processing is fantastic. All of the games move along without slowdown or break-up of graphics (with the exception of a couple of titles, but that could probably be blamed on the Color Dreams programmers). In fact, I believe that the "Station" may actually be a bit more powerful than the NES chipset, as 'Captain Comic' just seemed to fly.
The performance of the controller is dead on as well. Both the digital and analog directional pads, as well as the A & B Buttons (and their arrow-marked twins) are very responsive and accurate. It's also incredibly nice to have a Reset Button on the controller, especially when you're playing a "Color Dreams/Bunch Games" collection. If you're familiar with any of these titles (especially the "Bunch" games), then you know what I'm talking about. I'm just thankful that the torturous pain known as "Tagin' Dragon" isn't included in this collection. *shivers at the thought*
"Let's Get Ready To Rumble!"
At first I thought it was neat that a rumble pak was included, but after a few minutes of play I was over it. The Rumble Pak is wired to the A & B Buttons so that whenever you push them, the rumble pak goes into action. It's one thing for a controller to rumble during a specific in-game event, but when it goes off every time you hit a button it gets irritating. Unfortunately, there's no way to turn the rumble pak on or off, so you just have to deal with it.
Even though the games included in the "Game Station Arcade" are nothing to get extremely excited about, I think this NES related item is still worthy of a purchase. Especially if you're a collector of Color Dreams/Bunch Games and you're having a hard time locating some of these rare titles for your NES collection. Maybe one day we'll see different controller/systems that include some of the more classic NES games, such as the Nintendo titles (i.e. "Metroid", "Kid Icarus", "Legend of Zelda"), or perhaps Tengen or Tecmo collections.
Whether we see other versions of this idea with more high-profile games or not, one thing's for certain; it's very cool to be able to walk into a store like Wal-Mart in this day and age, and buy a new product that's related to the NES. Very cool indeed.....