EZ Games Video Game System by 3E Incorporated

Console Name: EZ Games Video Game System
Release Date: 1992
Country of Origin: United States of America
Developer: 3E Incorporated / Cascade Technology
Model Number: EG-1
Discontinued In: 1993
Number of Games Cartridges: 6
 

History
Very little is known about this device. It seems to be developed by 3E Incorporated / Cascade Technology. The copyright for the device is 1992-1993, which is also corroborated by the Sega Genesis main board used inside. The board is VA7 which was produced between June 1992 and was only produced for about 18 months until Sega introduced the Model 2. So far, only a handful of systems have been found. Both the earliest systems (v1.12) and the latest one (v2.11) have the same copyrighted date (1993) and both have the same hard-coded game list, which includes Street of Rage 2, which was released on December 15, 1992. This seems to point to a development cycle that started in 1992 with a release in 1993, but as the version 1.00 could have a different game list, the only certainty that we have it that it has been manufactured at least in the second half of 1992.

Release
While the back story of the device is not well known, its usage, on the other hand, is. The EZ Games Video Game System was deployed in hotels where customers could use it to play a selection of Genesis game. The unit originally came with all the latest games for the time: Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Taz Mania, Ecco the Dolphin, Batman Returns, Streets of Rage 2 and Evander Holyfield’s Real Deal Boxing.

The device worked by giving you a chance of trying the games for free. Once you start your free play session, you have 150 seconds of free gaming. Within that time frame, you can exit the game you are playing at any time to select another title. You are free to try all six games if wanted, as long as it is done within 150 seconds.¬† Sadly, there’s no visible timer when the game is running. You only get the amount of time left if you exit the game. Once the preview time is over, the system would display a “Game Preview Complete” message before returning to the main menu, but the Genesis game is not actually reset. The sound and controller would still be working, you just couldn’t see what you are doing as the EZ Games menu would cover the screen. You then need to wait 2 hours before unlocking the free play option again.

Once the customer had chosen a game, he could decide to buy time. Three packages were available  : 4.95$ for 1 Hour, 6.95$ for 2 Hours or 9.95$ to play until midnight. With 5 minutes renaming, you would be prompted  to extend your play. You would receive this message once again with 1 minute left of the timer before the machine would reset your progress.

The business model seems to be based on profit sharing as with each purchase, the room number is also sent along.

Demise
While it’s not clear how many units were deployed and if the test market was successful or not, but the road to success quickly narrowed in late 1993 with the release of LodgeNet, a on-demand hospitality service, including worldwide delivery of Super NES games to hotel guests via its proprietary building-wide networks.

Owner’s Note

  • The Off button is in fact the “Back” button and you need it to navigate through the menu. Pressing “Off” on the main page will bring the system back to TV mode and pressing “Enter” will bring back again the menu.
  • A configuration menu should exist, but have not been found yet. I haven’t found any specific jumper on the board nor any button code (yet) to make the menu appear. Maybe the menu is linked with the use of a credit card with a special number.
  • I have the version 1.12 and it fell really unfinished. All menus are in white over a black screen and lack any enticing graphics. There is music, though.
  • Once you try to purchase time, the console stay stuck on the “remove credit card” menu and there’s just no way to return to the main menu except unplugging the device to reset it. This may be a lack of error control or an issue with the card reader.

 

 

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