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Developed as a partnership between Flare Technology and Konix, a Welsh joystick manufacturer who had achieved a runaway success with their SpeedKing joystick, the Konix MultiSystem was touted as the ultimate console.

Flare were responsible for the impressive hardware, but it was the case design by Konix’ Wyn Holloway that really turned heads. The most revolutionary feature of the case design was the central control that could be twisted into a aircraft yoke, motorcycle handlebars, or car steering wheel. The wheel also featured a ‘judderer’ which was to provide force feedback several years before Nintendo’s Rumble Pak for the Nintendo 64. When in Aeroplane mode, the control pillar could be pushed or pulled to change altitude. In other modes the yoke could be locked in position.

Software was to be distributed on disc, meaning that the price of games would be considerably cheaper than for the rival consoles from Sega and Nintendo – Konix estimated that the top price for a game would be £14.99. In an attempt to avoid piracy, the Konix’ drive would use a special format developed by British softco Attention To Detail, which would also mean that Konix would have total control over the games released for the machine.

Unfortunately, it appears that Konix spread themselves too thin, promising cheap force-feedback action light guns, helicopter controls, motorised chairs and exercise bikes as add-ons for the basic (but still generously specced) console and Britain’s only serious attempt to release a console system ended in failure. The company’s over-stretch wasn’t helped by the bankruptcy of Epyx who owed Konix a large sum for sales of the SpeedKing joysticks – designed by Konix, but distributed and re-branded in many territories by the American software company.

The Games

A number of high profile British software companies were said to be developing for the machine, including Llamasoft, Argonaut, Attention to Detail and US Gold. Argonaut’s Bikers was to be bundled with the MultiSystem and the company were also said to be working on Revenge of Starglider – sequel to the Atari ST and Amiga classic. It was also known that Konix were keen to develop a sailing simulation that would take full advantage of the motorised chair to simulate different weather conditions and waves.

People

Jeff Minter was working on a Konix update of his Commodore 64 classic, Revenge of the Mutant Camels, which was to have been called Mutant Camels ’89. See arrgh’s Jeff Minter/Llamasoft section.

Thanks

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Major events

1990
Multisystem announced, expected price was to be £200

Emulators

Mac OS X

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iOS

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OUYA/Android

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Features

16-bit processor
4096 colour palette
25 channel stereo sound
Steering wheel style controller and foot pedals as standard
Specialised floppy drive, rather than a cartridge port.
256K on-board memory
3 graphic modes: 256×200 with 256 colours, 512×200 and 256×200 both with 16 colours.