Platforms

 

RDI Halcyon

Made in USA by RDI Video Systems in 1985-01
6
games
4
unreleased
The first home laser disc system. Promised to bring arcade laser disc games into the home without sacrificing quality. A similar idea to the Neo-Geo system. It was released January 1985, but sold poorly do to the fact that it cost $2,500 for a complete system. But if you already owned a compatible laser disc player (LD-700, VP-1000, LD-1100) then you only needed $1700 for the main unit, headset with mic, keyboard and the pack-in game, Thayer's Quest. The microphone on the headset was used for voice recognition that was built in to the unit along with voice synthesis and an AI. It came with a 1000 word vocabulary (spoken and recognized) and thanks to the AI players could teach it additional words. The first task was to teach it players' names so it could recognize and speak to individuals. It would also keep track players' progress. NFL Football was available at launch, no other games were published.
Thayer's Quest was a special edition of sorts. Containing many scenes that were not completed for the arcade release.
NFL Football was a two disc game that used video from real football games. Disc 1 was Raiders vs Chargers and disc 2 Dallas vs Redskins
The rest of the games were only available as prototypes:
Orpheus
Shadow of the Stars
Voyage to the New World
The Spirit of the Whittier Mansion was of the horror genre and doesn't seem to be intended for children.
The player that came with the complete set played all the usual formats (movies, video, audio disc)
Other games were reworked and released on other systems:
Karth of the Jungle (Mac)

This project began as what was essentially a slide viewer peripheral for videogame systems. Later this was refined as a standalone system using a filmstrip projector and audio tape. But then came laserdisc, a much better medium for the kind of game that the system was being designed to play. Initially CEDs were used to save costs, but RCA discontinued production and no one else made CEDs so the more familiar laserdisc format was used. Discs are CAV of course, as this is the easiest way to mix data, audio, and video on one format and access any of it in 'real time'. CLV would have required at least an hour of load time and a massive amount of RAM in the system. But, CAV has a major disadvantage of only holding about 30 minutes worth of audio+video per side (also subtract the data for the game from this time), requiring 4 or more sides for a game to have as much content as a typical 1980s adventure game. This was not just the inconvenience of frequent disc swapping and flipping, it was the cost of the discs as well. Another significant disadvantage to CAV is that the unit was designed to use CEDs which were CLV. Hacking the unit to use laserdisc broke CLV compatibility. Redesigning from scratch was apparently deemed a bad idea. Also, each game required a 16K ROM cartridge that mapped the disc contents, contained the voice i/o data, some game logic, and some game data. The player could not speak to the game at any time. Rather, the game would listen at certain times for specific words. When the speech unit found a match, the system would repeat they players words to confirm it and give chance for the player to cancel or revise.

The main unit used a Z80 cpu and 64K of RAM/ROM. The speech recognition was accomplished with a perihelia that had it's own CPU and solid-state memory. Each game came with a 16K cartridge.

Merv Griffin, Quinn Martin and Cassandra Peterson are known to have received Halcyon systems (they were investors as well).

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