Pioneer LaserActive

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Pioneer LaserActive
Pioneer LaserActive CLD-A100.jpg
"This was totally worth that second mortgage, son!"
Developer: Pioneer
Release Date: 1993
Competitors: 3DO Interactive Multiplayer
Philips CD-i
Generation: Fourth generation


The LaserActive is a video game console released in 1993 by Pioneer. It was capable of playing LaserDiscs and its own games, but also had many add-on modules called PACs for more features, including playing Sega Genesis games, Sega CD games, TurboGrafx-16 games and TurboGrafx-CD games.

It is usually excluded from lists of the worst-selling consoles because the games for the base unit were all Dragon's Lair-style QTE games that could be played with the remote of a standard LaserDisc player, but with a mere 10,000 units sold, it is tied with the HyperScan as the third-worst selling console of all time.

PACs

  • Sega PAC: This allowed the system to play Sega Genesis and Sega CD games.
  • NEC PAC: This allowed the system to play TurboGrafx-16 and TurboGrafx-CD games.
  • Karaoke PAC: This allowed it to play LaserKaraoke titles
  • Computer Interface PAC: This allowed the LaserActive to be controlled by a software developed for home computers, allowing it to be used by a 33 button remote, and gave it editing software.

Why It Flopped

  1. Like its older unreleased North American cousin, the RDI Halcyon, it was unbelievably expensive. The base console alone was 89,800 yen or $970 ($1,691.67 when adjusted for inflation) and each PAC cost significantly more than just buying the console it was emulating:
    • The Sega PAC cost $600 ($1,046.39).
    • The NEC PAC also costs $600.
    • The Karaoke PAC cost $350 ($610.40).
    • Adding this all up, at the time this cost gamers $2,520, equivalent to $4,394.85.
  2. LaserDiscs were a niche format mostly popular with cinephiles, thus most gamers weren't interested in the format.
    • The Mega-LD and LD-ROM discs are LaserDiscs, which are 8 or 12 inches in diameter. Therefore, they are significantly larger than the 12 cm disc form factor used for CDs and DVDs.
  3. There were two types of LaserDiscs used for LaserActive's original games, the Mega LD discs and the LD-ROM² discs. However, the Sega and NEC PACS were needed for these discs, respectively. The Sega PAC had the software for Mega LD discs and the NEC PACs held the software for the LD-ROM² discs.
  4. Being a LaserDisc player, it is absolutely gigantic: look at the size of the console compared to the controller in the image above.
  5. As mentioned above, LaserActive mainly played FMV "games" with button prompt QTEs. The problem was that these could be played on a regular LaserDisc player, and so anyone who could afford a LaserActive could just buy a normal LaserDisc player instead.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Despite its commercial failure, the LaserActive's video encoder was much better and sports better video in the composite than the latter two consoles.
  2. It had a couple of good games such as Pyramid Patrol and Vajra.

Videos

Trivia

  • In 1983, Pioneer produced a line of TV sets called SEED, which used expandable modules that could be used in tandem, similar in concept to the LaserActive's PACs. One of these modules was the Pioneer TV Video Game Pack SD-G5, which plays Sega SG-1000 and SC-3000 cartridges.[1]
    • That being said, there was also the SD-R5, which plays MSX cartridges.[2]
  • Approximately 420,000 units were sold in Japan and USA. 33 titles were made for the LaserActive, 18 of which were sold in the USA. A few titles available in English were never released in the USA, however, the console is not regional locked.

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