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In the all-time canon of video-game publishers, there are a few pitiable examples of
companies that never released a single product. Some of them were almost completely smoke-and-mirrors operations with products that existed only on paper…or in the minds of their overly optimistic founders. Others may have gone as far as to design, manufacture and even advertise functional games or game hardware, only to have their aspirations derailed by bad management or a lack of sufficient funding.

Santa Clara, California-based ASG Technologies appears to be in the latter category, though I can’t recall seeing any of these products with my own eyes and I don’t know of any prototypes that reached collectors’ hands. This Consumer Electronics Show press kit introduces two peripherals and two games:
• Video JukeBox, a “networked multi-cartridge dock” for the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Atari Jaguar (pages 1 and 2)
• InfraRAD, a “universal joypad remote communications system,” also for the Genesis, SNES and Jaguar (pages 3 and 4)
B.I.O.S.Fear, a futuristic first-person adventure game for the PC, Atari Jaguar CD, Sega 32X CD and 3DO systems (pages 5 and 6)
Time Slip, a time-traveling first-person adventure game for the Sega CD (pages 7 and 8)
The Video JukeBox was probably closest to production, since it was advertised in several consumer magazines that year. At least one of those ads also mentioned another ASG game in development, the unfortunately-titled Hosenose and Booger.

The Video JukeBox and InfraRAD were hardly new ideas. Similar products had previously been released for the Atari 2600 (the RomScanner) and Nintendo Entertainment System (the NES Satellite). The feature that made ASG’s new peripherals interesting was their ability to interact with each other. If I’m reading the description correctly, it sounds like you could control the JukeBox with the InfraRAD, which would have allowed you to switch to a different game without getting up off the couch. That would have been a sweet set-up, although I’m not sure how many players
would have been willing to cough up a combined total of $80 to buy both peripherals (or $90 for the Atari Jaguar versions).

The days leading up to a big trade show like CES have always been frantic, especially for new companies that have never attended before. Some of the pages in this kit show evidence of last-minute alterations made by ASG (which apparently stood for “All Systems Go”). The text on the back of the InfraRAD flyer (page 4) repeatedly identifies the product as the “InteractoR,” which makes it look like the name was changed and somebody forgot to correct all the instances where the original name appeared. The Time Slip flyer (page 8) lists a release date of “Xmas ’95,” but the “’95” is covered up by a carefully applied stroke of correction fluid.

Despite these minor mistakes, the ASG Technologies press kit gives an overall impression of a company with solid management and talented designers. And yet, there’s undoubtedly some naïveté on display as well. Did they not know that Vic Tokai had released a (completely unrelated) video game called Time Slip during the previous year? And did they really think that Atari Jaguar owners would need the ability to switch between six different games at the touch of a button? I once knew a guy who talked about using Krazy Glue to permanently attach a certain game to the cartridge slot of his Jaguar because he knew he’d never have the urge to play anything else on
that system. (I can’t remember if it was Alien vs. Predator or Tempest 2000, but you get the idea; most people didn’t even own six Jaguar games that were worth playing.)

There’s one more question I’d like to ask about ASG, not that I expect to ever find an answer. If you examine the Video JukeBox flyer (page 1), you’ll see that the area surrounding the main photo uses an image of a printed circuit board in the background. There are a lot of little words and phrases buried in this image, which also features computer chips with the ASG logo on them. One component is identified as a “BARF ASIC” chip, another appears to have the word “HOSENOSE” printed on it and there’s even an integrated circuit that controls “BODY GASSES.” You can clearly see words like “RADICAL” and “GOO” printed on the board itself. This image also appears in the background of one of the aforementioned ASG magazine ads, where close scrutiny will reveal the words “SNOT” and “VOMIT.” Is this an example of subliminal advertising, or just an art director’s practical joke?

© 2011 Chris Bieniek. Certain video game images, characters and logos on this Web site are copyrighted or trademarked by their respective publishers.