With our gang, we meet weekly to talk about everything and anything. Like the MOD Squad in Thank you for Smoking (2005 – directed by Jason Reitman, written by Jason Reitman/Christopher Buckley). This movie is hilarious, and Aaron Eckhart (Nick Naylor), Mary Jo Smith (Sue Maclean), and David Koechner (Bobby Jay Bliss) are excellent if you don’t know what to watch next, give it a try. Instead of meeting in a bar, we meet via phone as we have scattered both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. During yesterday’s session, Marie, a respected and high-ranking gang member, mentioned she wanted to experience the Vidéopac games she used to play as a kid. It was not the first time she said it, so I decided to make her wish come true this morning! I warn you, ça pique les yeux.

Magnavox developed this hit game console during the late ’70s. Several companies then built and sold the system during the ’80s. In particular, Philips, Radiola, Schneider, etc., under different names. Here, in the US, it was known as the Odyssey2. The direct competition of this console was the venerable Atari 2600.

The easiest and cheapest way to play the G7000 is to use an emulator. The open-source Emulator O2EM is a good solution, especially for someone not versed in retro-gaming arcane Art. And, it runs on several operating systems, Windows in particular. You can download it on Source Forge here. This gives you the emulator, but you need to source the BIOSes and ROMs to play. For example, you can find ROMs on the Planet Emulation website (here). You can also find the BIOSes and additional ROMs on René’s dedicated web page (here). After unzipping the BIOS and ROM images, copy them into the homonymic folders. And that’s pretty much all you need to do. Ah, as you will see shortly, the system’s limitations make the entire set of files, once zipped, less than 2MB.

To run the emulator, open a command prompt, cd into the emulator’s directory, and invoke the emulator via a command like: o2em.exe br_frogger.bin -scanlines -wsize=3 -nosound -novoice

The first argument – br_frogger.bin in the example above – is the game’s name to run (the ROM file’s name). Note that you do not have to add the path, and if the file name has spaces, use double quotes (“) around the words. So, to play the Guerre de l’Espace (France).bin ROM, type “Guerre de l’Espace (France).bin”.

The first time you run a game, I suggest disabling both the sound and voice as the audio may blast your eardrums with some very harsh noise. After setting the audio levels on your computer, drop the two options. If you don’t like scanlines, drop the option. Finally, the window size – a value between 1 and 4 – changes the … windows’ size. I found size four too big – and noticed slowdowns of the games. 2 or 3 are good options. And, that’s it.

When the G7000 uses two cheap joysticks, the keyboard controls the emulator. The keys depend upon the game you play. Some will accept the arrow keys, where most of them will use the W (up), D (right), X (down), and A (left) on a QWERTY configuration. But it is easy to find out. Note that you may need to keep the keys depressed to move your amazing character. Yes, you know, that blinking block in the middle of the screen.

If you wonder, I do not own a Vidéopac and do not plan to have one. I used to own a G7200, but I didn’t bring it over when I relocated to the US. That version had a built-in CRT, a-la Vectrex. Voili, voilou, Marie, I hope you will enjoy playing a frog, a pinball, or a sailor. For sure, you will need a hefty dose of imagination! 😊 I sent you the ready-to-use bits via mail.

Credits: vintagecomputing.com, computer-game-museum-36, Paul Carrington, Frank Veraart, and other respective owners.