Good evening, retro gamers, and welcome back The Last Official Release. Please, get comfortable, find a cosy spot on the couch and reach for that steaming cup of cocoa. We’re about to venture into the world of the last games commercially released for your favourite consoles.
A full list of what’s previously been covered can be found below, but today’s subject of interest is the Fairchild Channel F. Released in the US in 1976 and a year later in Japan, the Channel F is a bit of antiqued oddity since it existed before the Atari and Nintendo led console gaming boom of the 80’s. Being of that vintage, it holds a number of firsts to its name. It’s believed to be the first home console to use “programmable ROM” cartridges for one, in a time when a ‘home console’ was Pong – or something ripping off Pong. It’s also believed to be the first console to use a microprocessor and have a dedicated pause button. Pretty sweet.
Only 26 games were released for the Channel F (not including several built-in) so discovering the final cartridge leaves one with no doubt (and is the same for both regions). Number #26 was none other than a Space Invaders clone called Alien Invasion. It was as exactly as you’d expect: a group of menacing square pixels gradually make their way down the screen, shooting other square pixels, as your own group of square pixels (albeit of a different colour) shoots individual pixels back. There are three “shields” (vaguely shaped triangles also made of square pixels) to protect and even shoot through yourself if you’re cunning enough, as well as a mothership that pops up around every now and again. If you’re having a hard time visualising all this, here’s a snippet of the action on the YouTubes:
Quite simple indeed, although that is hardly surprising. What’s interesting, though, is the release date of Alien Invasion. Since the Channel F was discontinued in 1983, when do you think cartridge #26 was released? Something sensible like 1983 or ’84? How about something outrageous like 1996? That’s not too uncommon for consoles.
Nope, nope and nope. Alien Invasion saw shelves in 1981. Yes, you can do math – two years before the console was discontinued. Why this is the case is a mystery to me, but the Channel F continued to be sold for several years without any new games. It was a different time, I guess – and plus, Atari had well and truly stolen their thunder by that point.
Previously, on The Last Official Release:
Atari Jaguar – Worms (1998)
Virtual Boy – 3D Tetris (1996)
Sega Saturn – Undefined Japanese Game (2000)
Intellivision – Spiker! Super Pro Volleyball (1989)
Super Nintendo Entertainment System – Metal Slader Glory: Director’s Cut (2000)
Sega Genesis – Frogger (1998)
Sega Master System – Mickey’s Ultimate Challenge
Game & Watch – Mario the Juggler
PS1 – Schnappi: 3 Fun-Games
N64 – Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3
Game Gear – The Lost World: Jurassic Park
NES – The Lion King
Atari 2600 – Klax
Game Boy – Shikakei Atama o Kore Kusuru: Kanji/Keisan no Tatsujin
Dreamcast – Karous