Capcom CPS Changer

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Capcom CPS Changer
CapcomCPSChangerB&W.jpg
Seriously? This was only available by mail order?
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: Late 1994
Competitors: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
NEC TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine
SNK Neo Geo AES
Generation: Fourth generation


The CPS Changer (short for Capcom Power System Changer) was a cartridge-based video game console released exclusively in Japan in late 1994 by Capcom, in an attempt to sell their arcade games in a home-friendly format.

Only eleven games were released for it before it was discontinued sometime in 1996.

Technical Details

Technically speaking, the system itself was not a true console. The main console unit itself is, in fact, a self-contained, SuperGun-style adapter board designed to play arcade system boards at home. However, the adapter board also features SNES-specification controller ports. But, because arcade system boards could not understand the input signalling from SNES-compatible controllers, the CPS Changer features a custom co-processor by Capcom that converts the controller's input signals into discrete signals that are compatible with the game board attached to the main system. For video output, the adapter board uses a Sony CXA1645 chroma encoder which converts the game's RGB signals to home-friendly S-Video or composite signals. It also had line-level mono audio output. It also uses an external power brick, similar to consoles such as the Nintendo GameCube and NEC TurboGrafx-16.

Acting as "cartridges" for the system, the games for the CPS Changer are actually standard CP System (CPS-1 in retrospective terms) motherboards housed in plastic casings for home use. Each game has a vertical interface board that is used to connect the board's male connector to a female connector on the outside, with another interface board that connects it to the main unit.

The plastic casing is adapted from those used by Capcom's CP System Dash (A.K.A. CPS-1.5) arcade system boards, with some features removed, along with the addition of a large backplate that allows the main unit to properly and securely mount onto it. 

List Of Games

  • Capcom World 2: Adventure Quiz
  • Captain Commando
  • Final Fight
  • Knights of the Round
  • Muscle Bomber Duo: Ultimate Team Battle
  • Saturday Night Slam Masters
  • Street Fighter II' Turbo: Hyper Fighting (pack-in game)
  • Street Fighter II': Champion Edition
  • Street Fighter Alpha
  • The King of Dragons
  • Warriors of Fate

Why It Flopped

  1. The system and its games, which were made in somewhat limited numbers, were not sold at any store. As a matter of fact, they were only available by mail order, directly from Capcom themselves.
  2. Overpriced. The CPS Changer's package deal, which included the console, hook-ups, a Capcom Power Stick Fighter controller, and the pack-in title Street Fighter II' Turbo: Hyper Fighting, retailed for 39,800円 JPY, equivalent to about $398 to $400 USD by 1995's exchange rates ($651.41 to $654.68 when adjusted for inflation). While quite expensive, it was not as much as the Neo Geo AES, which retailed for 58,000円 JPY. This also applied to the games.
    • The pricing for games depends on the number of games bought at a time; One game for 20,000円 JPY, two games for 38,800円 JPY, and three games for 55,000円 JPY. Please note that these prices were equivalent to around $200 USD, $388 USD, and $550 USD, respectively, by 1995's exchange rates. The three-game price is more expensive than the console's package deal, and even the $200-$240 games on the Neo Geo AES, but not as much as the AES games that cost $1,000.
  3. Minimal advertising in Japanese magazines of the time.
  4. The self-contained game boards released for the CPS Changer are larger than the main console unit of the Neo Geo AES, which is not too surprising, considering. Their size also means that they can take up a lot of shelf space, more than even the North American CD cases of 3DO games.
  5. The physical shape of the console itself, along with the non-standard pinout of its JAMMA connector, means that playing non-CPS Changer boards with it is a tedious proposition.
    • However, it is possible to put together a JAMMA adapter cable for the console in order to play most JAMMA-compatible arcade system boards on the CPS Changer.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The main unit having SNES-type controller ports means that any SNES-compatible controller is usable on the system.
    • Then there is the fact that the Capcom Power Stick Fighter controller, which acted as the CPS Changer's "1st party controller" (so to speak), was first released for the SNES.
  2. The self-contained game boards did not feature suicide batteries. This meant that there would be no worry whatsoever about having to send a dead game back to Capcom and paying a lot of money for repairs.
  3. The software on the game boards have tweaked codes to further adapt them for home use, eliminating the need to insert coins to start playing them.
  4. Because the cartridges were adapted from actual CP System boards, the quality of the games is quite literally arcade-perfect!

Trivia

  • Certain titles in the CPS Changer's software library featured an "ura mode", a slightly tweaked gameplay mode that adds to the value of the game compared to the regular "omote mode". Some titles with the ura mode require a password to activate it, while others did not. For ura mode-carrying games that require a password, it has to be entered at certain screens. For the games that did not use passwords, the player can simply activate it in the options menu.
  • The final game released on the CPS Changer before the system's discontinuation is a back-ported version of Street Fighter Alpha (listed above in List of Games), which was sold at a premium 35,000円 JPY (about $350 USD by 1995's exchange rates, $572.84 USD when adjusted for inflation), compared to the 20,000円 JPY of the other individual games (if one is ordered at a time), excluding the pack-in title Street Figher II' Turbo: Hyper Fighting. Originally released on the CP System II arcade system board, this special CPS Changer home version of the game had fewer animation frames for the characters, fewer on-screen colors, and the music and sound effects were sampled at a lower rate.

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