BBC Bridge Companion by BBC Enterprises Ltd

Console Name: BBC Bridge Companion
Release Date: 1985
Original Price: £199.99
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer: BBC Enterprises Ltd
Staff(s):
Andrew Kambites, Programmer
Jeremy Flint, Game Design
Jeremy James, Game Design
Freddie North, Game Design
Tony Reynolds, Hardware Design and electronics

History
In 1985, Jeremy James and Jeremy Flint were co-Presenter of the BBC Bridge Club, a weekly TV Show aimed to guide novices and regulars of the Bristol Bridge Club towards a better understanding of the Bridge game.

Both master in their art, they decided to create a new way to teach bridge. With the help of  Freddie North, they began developing the technique that could be used to explain the games through a dedicated device  while Tony Reynolds designed the hardware for it.

Since both Jeremies were working for the BBC, it made for a natural fit to use them as the publisher of the device. BBC, although primarily a  public UK Broadcasting, was also invested in producing various goods, including the BBC Micro, a series of microcomputer.

Release
In 1995, the BBC Bridge Companion finally saw the light of day. The BBC Bridge Companion was and still is the only gaming console solely dedicated to bridge. The 8-bit console was designed from the ground up to play the famous card game. The controller, directly on the unit itself,  was made with the sole purpose of proposing an easy way to play bridge electronically.  Although very expensive if compared to other game console, the device receive very good critic upon released. The console was unique and was fully  backed by the BBC. Bryon Parkin, Managing Director of BBC Enterprises, declared that ‘the BBC only puts its  name to quality products and critics declare that this was an understatement.

At launch, only one cartridge was available, while a second that would pit you against international master was being developed.

Demise
The device didn’t really fail at it was never expected for it to be sold in large quantity. The device was aimed at a very limited subset of individuals and, manage to deliver on the expectation. According to the article “Games:When winning is no big deal.” written by Tony Forrester and Henry Dimbleby and published in the Daily Telegraph of Jan 25 1995, the main problem was that the included software provided a decent basic tutorial, but that it didn’t explain the basic subtleties of the games. They added that you could get the same level of training for much cheaper from a book. Although the additional games released for the console would go more in depth and address Forrester & Dimbleby criticism, the additional content was able to outweigh the cost of the consoles/games, especially since there was other software out there (especially from PC) that could provide a similar learning experience for way less.

 

Games
A total of nine games have been released for this console.

Confirmed Games

  • Advanced Bidding
  • Advanced Defence
  • Bridge Builder
  • Club Play 1
  • Club Play 2
  • Club Play 3
  • Conventions 1
  • Duplicate 1
  • Master Play 1

Technical Specification

  • CPU: Zilog Z80
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