Jump to content
IGNORED

MBX Expansion System Question


Tempest
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have a quick question. Does the MBX Expansion System actually add more speech to MBX games than the regular speech adaptor or is it only useful for playing those few games that need the keypad or headset? Somewhere I heard it added more words to certain games, but I'm not sure if that's true or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It does not necessarily add more speech, but it does use a different speech synthesizer. The games do not use any built-in vocabulary, but instead use LPC data. What it speaks is the same in both synthesizers. IMO, the TI synthesizer sounds better.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had an MBX system « back-in-the-day », and it's real advantages were that joysticks were wonderful, and in 1983 having voice recognition blew away all my Commodore and Atari friends...worked pretty well too! But all that goodness was only available to MBX games. Did nothing to existing games or your own programs (not sure about Assembler, but certainly no calls added to XB as far as I can remember)

 

I agree with OLD CS1 that the stock speech-synth sounds better.

 

My problem with the unit is that all the games (except baseball) worked just as well without it (the great joystick, keypad and voice recognition were just added goodies). There were also SO few games ever produced that, at today's prices, it has become one of those medium-high-end collectors-only items.

 

If I could find one in decent shape for $100 or so, I'd grab it for Baseball alone (a very good baseball game for the era and the ONLY game that makes full use of the system), but they are currently so above my toy-budget that they're not even tempting. (thank gawd they didn;t make a black/aluminium version, or I may not be able to say that.)

 

I guess that wasn't exactly what you asked is it?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually that was very informative. I'm trying to see if it's worth getting one or not. So basically other than for the joystick (which I don't care for actually) it's not really worth getting? I assumed that the voice synth would be better than the standard speech sidecar, but everyone seems to be saying the opposite.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is a thread that I started about the MBX shortly after I acquired mine, which includes some historical and technical information about it:

I remember reading (on the Videogame House MBX page) that the MBX was intended to be a standalone game console from Milton Bradley. The console was canceled after Coleco entered the market with the ColecoVision, and was repackaged as an add-on for the 99/4A (presumably because Milton Bradley had a relationship with TI and had developed the Gamevision titles for them). It was also supposed to become the Voice Commander, a similar add-on for the Atari consoles, but apparently that project was canceled also. The Atari Space Age Joystick was designed by Milton Bradley for Atari, and it is clearly derived from the MBX joystick design.

 

I suppose that the quality of the speech as compared to TI's own speech module is a matter of taste: I found the MBX speech synthesizer to be pretty good, partially because the MBX has its own built-in speaker. One bit of information from the earlier thread that's worth repeating for any MBX owner: DO NOT plug the MBX into the 99/4A when the power is on, at the MBX side OR at the 99/4A side! The MBX uses the 99/4A joystick interface as a 4-bit communications port, and the buffer/drivers in the MBX might be blown if it is plugged in while the power is on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part of my problem with the MBX speech is that the game jitters when it is speaking, most likely due to the communication to the unit via the joystick port and the commensurate protocol and timing factors.

 

The joystick is really great for Super Fly once you get used to it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I owned a complete MBX system in the 90's including all the games. My kids used it with Honey Hunt and the trolley game (forget the name) for a bit but then after that it was just taking too much desk space and more cables. I personally hardly ever used it once the initial excitement was over because of the very limited games collection available. Sold it eventually on Ebay. I do get tempted to buy it back on occasion, but it'll sadly likely end up with the same fate.

FYI: mdude has one for sale currently on Ebay for $300.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually that was very informative. I'm trying to see if it's worth getting one or not. So basically other than for the joystick (which I don't care for actually) it's not really worth getting? I assumed that the voice synth would be better than the standard speech sidecar, but everyone seems to be saying the opposite.

 

Well I wouldn't say they are not worth getting (although at an average price of $300-$400 (Canadian) they are definitely not worth getting). If you accept the fact that you are buying a curiosity more than a meaningful add-on, it is a pretty cool gizmo. As I said, the voice recognition, although hardly impressive in 2015, was jaw-dropping in '84, they joystick is awesome (but only useable with MBX games) and it's the only way to play MBX Baseball (which to me is the real reason to buy it).

 

If you find one cheap grab it, but remember, there were only 11 carts ever released, 4 of which are purely for very young children "Mmmmm, A Strawberry!".. So you really are buying it as a collector item, or to play ONE game that cannot be played otherwise.

 

So buy one if it's under $100. (like that's gonna happen)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually, I've seen pictures of prototype MBX units that were black and silver--and with black joysticks. I've never seen either of them in the wild though, so your wallet is probably safe PeBo.

 

Yup that would be this one, but I do not believe it was ever produced, so my money is safe (although the photo would suggest there was a proto-type (or, come to think of it, is that just a standard TI sidecar, redressed to LOOK like an MBX?? Sure doesn't look much like the final released product)

post-40994-0-39615900-1434051035_thumb.jpg

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you find one cheap grab it, but remember, there were only 11 carts ever released, 4 of which are purely for very young children "Mmmmm, A Strawberry!".. So you really are buying it as a collector item, or to play ONE game that cannot be played otherwise.

 

Hey, I'll have you know that four drunken adults can have a lot of fun with Terry Turtle. :)

 

The problem with Baseball is that it's two player only and if I can't convince my wife to play Mario Kart with me then I'm never going to convince her to play a 30 year old baseball game.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Honestly, it is more of a collector's item these days than anything else. Shame TI didn't stay in the market long enough to exploit the MBX to it's fullest.

 

Too bad they didn't stay in the market long enough to give us a full production run of 99/8's!!! (which probably wouldn't have needed the MBX to duplicate many of it's functions!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Haven't had my MBX for too long, but one can play Baseball all by themselves - believe me. :lol:

 

Also, I quite like the speech synthesis out of it (slightly different inflection and can sound more natural) and nice you can adjust the volume too. Adds another dimension to the audio experience. Have not noticed the screen jitter during speech yet though and I tried a variety of MB games on it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...