iQue Player controller.
|Type||Video game console|
|Release date||CHN November 17, 2003|
|Media||Flash card, cartridge|
|CPU||R-4300 64Bit CPU, 93.75 MHz|
|Graphics||62.5 MHz Reality Co-Processor|
|Connectivity||USB (Fugue Online)|
|Online services||iQue Depot, Fugue Online|
|Best-selling game||Dr. Mario 64 (pre-installed in bundled memory card)|
|Related articles||Nintendo 64|
The iQue Player is a video game console that was manufactured by iQue, a joint venture between Nintendo and Chinese-American scientist Wei Yen. The system's Chinese name was Shén Yóu Ji (神游机), literally "Divine Gaming Machine". Shényóu (神游) serves a double entendre because the term also means "to make a mental journey". Although the console wasn't released in any English speaking countries, the name "iQue Player" appears in the console's instruction manual. The console itself takes the form of the controller and plugs directly into the television. A box accessory is available that allows multiplayer gaming. It was only marketed in mainland China, as the console's unusual game distribution method is an attempt to curb game piracy in that region.
Games for the iQue Player are stored on a 64 MB flash card which is contained within a cartridge that plugs directly into the controller/console. Games were purchased at a special "iQue depot", where games may be downloaded onto the cartridge and played later, in a similar manner to the Famicom Disk System, Satellaview, Nintendo 64DD and Nintendo DS Download Play. Games can also be downloaded, by connecting the iQue to a PC. Demo games that come with the iQue include The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64, and Star Fox 64. These demos are time-limited versions of the games. Full versions of the three titles are available, as are some third party titles such as Rayman 2: The Great Escape, Geo Adventure, Earthworm Jim 3D and Namco Museum 64 and some first party Nintendo titles such as Dr. Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Wave Race 64, and F-Zero X.
- Processor: R-4300 64Bit CPU, 93.75 MHz
- Memory: 4 MB RAMBUS
- Graphics: 100,000 polygons/second, 2.09 million colors
- Sound: ADPCM 64
Once the player has turned on the system, the iQue logo will appear. Then, an advertisement for a game will appear and it will say to press the A button to continue. The main menu lists the games on the memory card and info on the games as well. Once the player has selected a game, a message will appear asking if they want to play this game. A loading screen may appear. If the player presses Z on the highlighted game, a description of the game will appear. Like many other consoles, the player can change the system settings such as TV resolution and username. The system settings will also appear when the player first uses the system.
The iQue Player has online services for buying games, cloud storage, game updates, etc. Currently, there is only one online service for the iQue Player; which is broadband based. In the past, some gas stations had a kiosk based service for accessing games.
The iQue depot is a network of kiosks that allows users to download games, update games, and more. Each game comes with a game code that can be used so the user can download the game. Players can also store their games on the iQue Depot network for free. They're mostly seen in the past, at gas stations in China. Users must be a member of the iQue Club and have a special iQue Ticket to download games.
Fugue Online is an online service that allows users to get free access to games at home, update their system and more. To connect to Fugue Online, players must plug the iQue Player to their computer via USB. Games are downloaded on the computer, in a similar manner to an MP3 player. The user will need an "iQue Ticket", which is similar to a gift card and is used to purchase games. Fugue Online is only compatible with iQue Players that have been upgraded to the latest firmware. The drivers for the iQue Player only support Windows XP, and cannot run on newer operating systems.
The iQue Player memory card is bundled with the system. It is required to start the system and to load the games. Both the games and the game save states are saved on the memory card.
The iQue Player Swim Box is a multitap, and is required to play local multiplayer. The Swim Box has four ports; one for the main iQue Player system, and three for Swim Controllers. Due to this design, only one iQue Player system can be used, and the other players must use Swim Controllers. When using the Swim Box, the iQue Player system is Player 1.
The Swim Controller is used for local multiplayer. The Swim Controller connects to the Swim Box, and can't load games alone. Games have to be loaded on the iQue system.
China has an overwhelming black market for video games and usually only a few games officially make it to the Chinese market. Many Chinese gamers tend to purchase bootleg cartridge or disc copies or download ROMs and ISOs to play via emulator. As with the Universal Odyssey curbing up piracy in that region, Nintendo wanted to curb the software piracy in China, and also by-pass the then-ban that the Chinese government implemented on home game consoles since 2000. Nintendo partnered with Wei Yen, who helped Nintendo in other projects, and together they created a game system to get around China's black market, as well as loophole through the government's ban. Originally, the system would support games released on Nintendo consoles prior to the GameCube, which include the NES, Super NES, and Nintendo 64, but later in the system's development, it was resulted to only include Nintendo 64 games. Additionally, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and Tempest 2000 were going to be included in the software library but they were later cancelled; however, their promotional pictures are still on the back of the box.
The iQue Player was released on November 17, 2003 with a few launch titles. Nintendo strategy to market games in China was to show how video games can help improve children's mental and social development. At first, the only way to get games was to buy them via the iQue Depot, but in 2009, Nintendo released Fugue Online to download games at home. Rayman 2: The Great Escape was the last game for the console, released in September 2006.
While Nintendo had previously announced plans to release the GameCube in China after the end of its production life, Satoru Iwata said in 2007 that the GameCube would only be available in Hong Kong, and marketed under the Nintendo brand. In light of the Chinese government officially announcing the ban lift on gaming consoles in January 2014, in an interview with Reuters, Iwata revealed that Nintendo is currently assessing the Chinese market, with plans to develop an entirely different console for various emerging markets, which could be potentially affordable for many middle-class Chinese people. Iwata further commented that despite the ban lift, many other hurdles in the market remain, and Microsoft's approach in releasing their Xbox One console in China just "wouldn't work", marking Nintendo's decision against releasing the contemporary Wii U console in the country. As of January 2016, no successor to the iQue Player has been released.
On October 31, 2016, iQue reported that Fugue Online service will be discontinued by the end of December 2016.
The iQue Player's library has 48 games total, if you don't count the third party titles it only has 14 games. All these games were released for the Nintendo 64 in Japan and other regions prior to the iQue Player. Two games were cancelled.
Differences from the Nintendo 64 versionsEdit
iQue Player games differ slightly from their Nintendo 64 counterparts, with the text and voices having been translated to Chinese. The only exceptions are the Mario games and the previously Japan-only title Sin and Punishment, where the text has been translated while the voices remain in English. Also, the iQue games are newer than the Nintendo 64 counterparts, so many glitches and errors from the original games have been fixed. Some features were removed due to the system's lack of support for Nintendo 64 controller accessories like the Rumble Pak. Due to this, many games that originally supported the rumble feature no longer support it. Some features were added. Many games that allow the player to enter their name now have the option to use their iQue Player's username, which can be set at the iQue Player's main menu. Speedruns of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time have often been carried out on the iQue Player, because it has quicker loading times and faster scrolling text than the Nintendo 64 version. Also other games such as Star Fox 64 are known in the speedrunning community to be advantageous on the iQue, saving up to several minutes in faster loading times and reduced lag. And some other games such as Glover has the controller button and controller placements.
Nintendo had plans to support network multiplayer in games that originally only supported local multiplayer, which would work in a similar manner to that of an emulator.