Color TV-Game Series


Nintendo had found great success as a toy manufacturer, however the toy market was heavily regulated. Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi believed this was throttling Nintendo's profits, and sought to branch out into the emerging electronic gaming market.

Nintendo received a license from Magnavox to design and manufacture their own Nintendo-branded systems based on the Odyssey's light tennis game. Teaming up with Mitsubishi, and with assistance from employees of Sharp Electronics, Nintendo created their first home videogame systems, the Color TV-Game 6 and Color TV-Game 15.

A total of five Color TV-Game systems were released in Japan between 1977 and 1980. Each standalone unit played a single type of game, with gameplay variations controlled using switches on the base unit.

Color TV-Game 6 (1977)

Nintendo's first home videogame system features three variations of 'Light Tennis' (a.k.a. Pong):

  • Tennis features a dotted-line 'net' down the centre. Use the paddle to hit the ball over the net and past your opponent's paddle to score a point.
  • Volleyball features a more complex net shape down the centre of the play area that causes the ball to bounce around.
  • Hockey has no net, but much smaller goals, making it harder to score points.

Each game can be played in Singles or Doubles mode, for a total of six games. In Doubles, each player controls two paddles at the same time.

The orange Color TV-Game 6 base unit

Color TV-Game 15 (1977)

Released as the more expensive 'deluxe' model of the Color TV-Game series, with detachable controllers and 15 built-in games.

In addition to the Tennis, Volleyball and Hockey games from the Color TV-Game 6, the Color TV-Game 15 includes variations on all three with different nets down the centre line. All are available to play in singles or doubles mode.

The all-new games are:

  • Ping Pong plays like a side-view of a table tennis game, with a short net to hop the ball over. This can be played in singles or doubles.
  • Penalty Shootout is a one-player only game where you must score points past a constantly moving target.
The Color TV-Game 15 base unit

Color TV-Game Racing 112 (1978)

A simple driving game that can be controlled in single player with the large steering wheel on the base unit, or two small wired controllers for multiplayer games.

Steer a car around opponent cars and road obstacles. Using the switches on the system, it's possible to play 112 variants of the game:

  • Game Select 1-Player (Wide Course), 1-Player (Narrow Course) or 2-Player
  • Speed Low (2-Player only), Medium or High
  • Zigzag Opponent cars swerve (on or off)
  • Guard Rail Touch Pass through the guard rail or crash into it (on or off)
  • Bad Road Road is slippery (on or off)
  • Car Quantity The number of opponents on the track (few or many).
The Color TV-Game Racing 112 unit

Color TV-Game Block Kuzushi (1979)

The fourth Color TV-Game system is based on one of Nintendo's first arcade games Block Fever, itself a clone of the Atari arcade hit BreakOut.

Use the dial on the system to control the paddle and bounce the ball so it breaks all the blocks. There are six variations to play:

  • Block Out The basic game. Break all of the blocks on screen. Each band of blocks scores a different number of points.
  • Block Easy The fourth row of blocks is missing, providing an easier game.
  • Block Save A row a blocks appears below the paddle, helping you if you drop the ball.
  • Block Through The rows are spaced out and the ball doesn't stop when it hits a block.
  • Block Lighter Break the four flashing blocks at the top of the screen and score more points by breaking as few of the other blocks as possible.
  • Block Killer The same rules as Block Lighter, except the flashing blocks are in the centre of a diamond block formation.
The Color TV-Game Block Kuzushi unit

Computer TV-Game (1980)

The final game in the Color TV-Game series was based Nintendo's first arcade videogame, Computer Othello. Place your pieces on a board to capture your opponent's pieces. The winner is the player with the most pieces on the board when no more pieces can be placed.

The system boasted an advanced CPU, allowing the player to challenge the computer. The system came with a significantly higher price than the other Color TV-Game systems, aimed for specialist markets and older players. The Computer TV-Game is now a collector's item in Japan.

The Computer TV-Game unit

Cameo Appearances

Racing 112 microgame in WarioWare, Inc.

WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ (Game Boy Advance)

One of 9-Volt's microgames is based on Racing 112. Steer the car and don't crash into the enemy cars. On the higher difficulty levels, the cars zigzag around.

Color TV-Game 6 microgame in WarioWare: Smooth Moves

WarioWare: Smooth Moves (Wii)

One of 9-Volt's microgames is based on Color TV-Game 6. Twist the Wii Remote to simulate turning the dial. Stop the ball from going into your goal.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS / Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Color TV-Game 15 appears as a possible Assist Trophy. Paddles appear on either side of the stage, hitting a ball back and forth between them. Any player hit by the paddles or ball takes damage.