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VS. Garage Space

It followed me home, I swear

Let me be very clear, I don't need any additional arcade projects right now. I have seven right now in different stages of completion at this point in the workshop. Oh sure, three of them are almost done and about to go into the arcade. But with school ramping up my time (and space) is more than limited. My wife has had a VS. Super Mario on her want list for a long time, and when this VS. cabinet popped up for sale locally I couldn't say no. Well, I guess I could have but I didn't. Plus any pick up under 45 minutes from the house is hard to turn down.

Will the real Mario please stand up?

If you don't know, this VS. or Unisystem game was a conversion kit (it also came as a dedicated cabinet, dual cabinet, and red dual sided cocktail) which converted older, and at the time no longer profitable Nintendo titles such as Donkey Kong and Popeye to newer games. Nintendo also sold a conversion kit specifically for Bally/Midway games such as Pac-Man. The system was released in 1984, and VS. "Game Packs" were sold all the way up until 1990. Games could easily be changed in the VS. system with a simple ROM chip change. "Game Pack" kits came with new game ROM chips, a new marquee, a cardboard header to announce the new game, and sometimes a new CPU depending upon the game title.

The VS. "Red Tent" two sided cocktail

Side art on the game was generic and did not change game to game. The side art simplyhad the Nintendo logo, and a VS. Unisystem logo on a very 1980's grid. The control panel also stayed the same from game to game, although some games did use a light gun. The skiing title Slalom came with a special ski attachment and control panel. The ease (and affordable nature) of changing games so easily made the system very appealing to operators, and many different titles were offered during the lifespan of the system.

The huge double cabinets: These are Pod People, or they just never get out much

All of the games for the VS. System were actually published by Nintendo, despite some being branded by other third party companies. Many of the titles were similar to games released for the Nintendo Entertainment home system, but the hardware is completely different and not compatible in any fashion. Some games play slightly differently, have slightly different graphics, and some of the famous tricks (like the ones found in Super Mario Bros.) are missing. Some two player games allowed for two system cabinets to operate connected for "Head to Head" game play. Some games even came as dual cabinets from the factory, attached at the sides with a small angled bracket device. I bet those were fun to move around.

Unisystem? More like Dirtysystem right now...

The cabinet of our little Unisystem left the Nintendo factory as a Donkey Kong originally, and despite some heavy use is complete and fairly free of major damage. Currently a dead power supply is preventing us from fully check the working order of the main board or monitor, but everything is where it should be and seems like a good candidate for restoration. One could, if they wanted to turn it back into a Donkey Kong. We will be turning it into a VS. Super Mario Bros. since my wife has fond college year memories of playing with Mario and his magic mushrooms. With the heavy waitlist of projects in the workshop, Mario might have to take a number and wait it out for a bit.

Original Donkey Kong serial plate on the right, VS. serial plate on the middle

This game shouldn't take too much work. I find Nintendo cabinets pretty easy to work on. The base of the cabinet is intact which is nice to see, since a lot of them tend to deteriorate. Anyhoo I look forward to adding this game to our collection once it's back up and running again, magic mushrooms and all.

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