Power Player

About six months ago, a new and exciting kiosk opened up at our local Lloyd Center mall. Instead of selling, say, semi-depressing painted hermit crabs, questionable mafia hair straighteners, or buckwheat-filled pillows, it was selling the "Power Player" — a totally classic Chinese 76,000 NINTENDO GAMES-IN-ONE import special.

If you've never seen these things, the idea is that it's a plug-and-play videogame device, and that they're terrible and funny:

(Don't miss the surprising amount of comedy packed into that flyer — I'm a fan of the blockbuster games "Milk & Nut", "Combat Guy", "Donkey Calculator" and, most especially, "Burger Moment".)

Besides the hilarious rip-off industrial design (N64 and Genesis together at last!), and the weird Star Wars packaging photo, and the way-too-realistic gun (which once caused a bit of a problem for me at airport security on a trip back from Los Angeles after once having bought an "AdvanceBoy"), the biggest joke about these products is that they advertise "over 76,000 games!"

Basically, it's the same 30 crusty old games, with different names. For the first few pages, they actually try to put some effort into it — "Donkey Kong" becomes "Kong Don" becomes "Angry Man Donkey" becomes "Donkey Ding Bell Climb", etc. Or something like that. But by the time you get to about page 20, the programmers totally chucked it in and the "original titles" become completely computer-generated: "Donkey Kong 18543" followed by its sequel "Donkey Kong 31950", etc.

Of those 30 games, they're all brazenly pirated Nintendo originals, with minor modifications. Dave once straight-up asked the mysterious lady working our local kiosk: "Aren't these games illegal?" "Oh, no, no, totally legal", she replied. (She had no idea.)

Anyway, one day, the kiosks went away. And this month, the following ad appeared in Electronic Gaming Monthly:

According to the plea agreement Nintendo posted, Yonatan was making out like a bandit: buying the units for $8.50. At Lloyd Center, they were selling them for $60. Now, it seems, the jig is up.

Insert prison/Pooyan joke here.


One down, only 50,000 more to go!

I hate those stands in the mall. I feel like flipping out and overturning them, like Jesus did to the money changers outside the temple! Okay, well maybe not exactly like that. Still, they make me mad! :)
Anonymous John 2/21/2006 5:07 PM  
Somebody stop the madness ! Nintendo is losing BILLIONS because Tetris and Excite Bike are getting pirated !
Blogger frumin 2/21/2006 5:22 PM  
It's the principle of the thing: people doing this right out in the open, only in it for the money. It's a far cry from an enthusiast downloading ROMs and using an emulator.

Also, I always wonder how the malls just let these people do this. If I make CD-R copies of my music collection, will the local mall let me open up a stand and sell them? Insanity...
Anonymous John 2/21/2006 5:26 PM  
I see these things here in Australia all the time. Are they not common in the USA? Perhaps our law enforcement of this stuff is more lax than that of USA.

One of my fave rip off items I saw at the Victoria Market in Melbourne was a toy called, wait for it... Spader Man!

Yep.. hated by dogs, feared by cats.
Anonymous Cris 'atariboy' Pearson 2/21/2006 7:27 PM  
c c c comedy!#!@
Anonymous Anonymous 2/22/2006 6:13 AM  
cabel, you should write him in jail for the first interview. i'd love to hear what he has to say for himself.

i'm dying for someone to make a documentary on bootleggers and spammers...
Anonymous jason 2/22/2006 11:06 AM  
5 YEARS IN JAIL? Oh my god, that is total bullshit! Sure, it's lame that this dude was making a ton of money on selling a crappy thing, but man, that punishment is ridiculous!

My brother shot a fully automatic UZI with a SILENCER out of his window and blew up a power transformer, resulting in the whole city of Astoria, Oregon loosing power! HE ONLY DID 4 MONTHS IN PRISON! This guy gets 5 years? COME ON!

Anonymous Jona 2/22/2006 11:46 AM  
It was a MAC-10, junior, not an uzi, and I did 8 months. Four at Sheridan FPC, four at the Oregon Community Corrections house. Jail is rough, that's why I don't mess with guns anymore and I always pay for everything I take out of Fry's Electronics.
Blogger Joel Conrad Bechtolt 2/22/2006 5:11 PM  
I too have one of these rip-off machines. I'm a huge Ninty nerd but I still love it. The funniest part is the famicom port on the bottom.

My favorite game name has to be "road madder" for Contra II.
Blogger pr0 3/10/2006 11:31 AM  
It's about time that some people are getting taken down like this... I can't stand how these people are using these plug in play things, changeing the names of the copywrited games, and ripping off elderly people who don't know any better and don't know what to get their grandchildren.

I can't stand QVC and things like that anymore when they advertise crap like this.

oh and sorry for being really behind... I just kinda stumbled over the DS lite review and looked around a bit.
Anonymous MegaManX9101 4/12/2006 8:58 AM  
Lucas Arts should also be on his ass for not having the rights to post a picture from their movie "The Phantom Menace" on the box! He should get an extra 12 months in jail for using the force illegally! By the way, did you end up buying it? It seems like a hilarious classic keepsake to me.
Anonymous chazzy 6/09/2006 11:53 PM  
bah, serial killers don't even get that much time here
Anonymous Anonymous 7/08/2006 2:03 PM  
're an idiot
Anonymous Anonymous 12/31/2009 11:02 AM  

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Name:Cabel Maxfield Sasser
Job:Co-Founder, Panic Inc.
Location:Portland, OR