Polaroid Instant Video Games

May 14th, 2008 by Benj Edwards

Polaroid 15-in-1 Game Controller

What you're seeing is not a hallucination. It is neither the result of partial head trauma, nor an accidental intrusion from an alternate dimension.

It's a plug-and-play video game system marketed by Polaroid.

Polaroid 15-in-1 Video Game ControllerWalking through an absurdly enormous Target Supercenter last year, I spotted this strange beast hanging on an isle in the electronics section. I knew Polaroid was in bad shape (having declared bankruptcy years ago), but this? It's so bizarre that I had to pick it up.

What I got was a battery powered NES clone with 15 mostly terrible games. No big surprise there. After some searching on the web, I found pictures of this same unit colored translucent blue instead of Polaroid grey — clearly Polaroid licensed this from another manufacturer. But why?

Word on the street (aka "the Internet") says that Polaroid had originally built these games into their Portable DVD players. With that move, Polaroid quietly tiptoed into video game business. Still not satisfied, Polaroid soon launched this re-branded Chinese bargain-bin controller…almost directly into the clearance isles of retail electronics stores across the nation. Little did they know that it would some day make its most famous press appearance ever on Vintage Computing and Gaming.

Polaroid 15-in-1 Title ScreenPolaroid 15-in-1 Video Game System Title Screen

Seeking Mr. Potato

One Day of Mr. Potato Title ScreenExactly 93.333% of the games on the Polaroid system are simple, repetitive distractions that won't hold anyone's attention for more than a minute. They're mostly racing and shooting titles with mediocre graphics: there's a clone of Bump 'n' Jump called Fast Race, a vertical shooter named Last Cabra, and even a game where you catch pelican stool (Birdie Nest). One game stands out from the rest, however. It's called One Day of Mr. Potato, and it's actually pretty fun.

Mr. Potato himselfThe titular character in One Day of Mr. Potato bears a striking resemblance to Nintendo's globular Kirby, but that's where the similarity ends. Potato's gameplay echoes puzzle-platformers like Donkey Kong (1994) on the Game Boy. The player takes control of Mr. Potato, who must climb ladders and traverse platforms while avoiding or shooting the evil Jack O'Lanterns on richly-illustrated stages. His goal is to retrieve the sole key on each level and release his love (Mrs. Potato?) from a birdcage-like prison. During his quest, Mr. Potato cannot jump, which makes avoiding the perturbed pumpkin people a little more difficult.

I'm hoping that someone out there might have more information on this title. Even better, I'd love to have a dump of the game to play in an emulator. I read somewhere that these games were coded especially for these plug-and-play systems, and they run on a Famicom clone chip, although I have confirmed neither rumor myself. Any information anyone can contribute on Mr. Potato or the Polaroid system itself will be highly welcome. Just leave a comment below.

And now, I'll leave you with several screenshots from the plug-and-play masterpiece, One Day of Mr. Potato. And I apologize in advance: these shots are as high quality as I can get with my crappy old video capture card. Enjoy.

One Day of Mr. Potato - Level 1Mr. Potato confronts evil pumpkins on level 1.

One Day of Mr. Potato - Level 1Mr. Potato to the rescue — end of level 1.

One Day of Mr. Potato - Level 2Mr. Potato confronts four evil pumpkins on level 2!

One Day of Mr. Potato - Level 3In level 3, an evil bat joins the evil pumpkins.

One Day of Mr. Potato - Level 3When Mr. Potato dies, the world joins hands.



9 Responses to “Polaroid Instant Video Games”

  1. Bill Says:

    the screens on an outward reminds me a little of coleco Space Panic..too bad you couldnt dig holes to "bury" the pumpkins..

  2. Dylan Says:

    This would be the perfect companion to my 13″ Polaroid LCD TV.

  3. Geoff V. Says:

    Read more here:
    http://forums.benheck.com/viewtopic.php?t=19439&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

    Here's the user guide:
    http://www.polaroid.com/service/userguides/ce/portable_dvds/agm0150_ug.pdf

    Here's a version with 30 games:
    http://www.polaroid.com/service/userguides/ce/portable_dvds/agm0300_ug.pdf

  4. Kitsunexus Says:

    Actually you can still find DVD players at WalMart that have this packaged with them.

    And on my VGPocket Capsule, the game is "Mr. Onion", not "Mr. Potato", though I would accept hentai of the characters under either name.

  5. Zoyous Says:

    And this is just one day of Mr. Potato. Imagine what the rest of the week is like.

  6. Benj Edwards Says:

    Zoyous gets the "comment of the week" award. :)

    Which I just invented, by the way, because that was awesome.

  7. Ray Says:

    I missed this post in my RSS… good thing I went to the site on a whim! I always wanted someone to write about these things — I've seen them with other companies' DVD players, yet I'm a little surprised Polaroid is selling them separately. Just a little, though, because it is Polaroid. Oh, maybe they consider it a replacement part! Nah.

  8. Multimedia Mike Says:

    Hey, I picked up one of these at a used shop a few months ago, having absolutely no clue what it was. I just found another one at a different used shop this past weekend. Then I saw a picture of one in your blog's feature sidebar. So, thanks for solving the mystery for me!

    I thought the most curious thing about the controller is that the yellow and red cables were both 1/8″ plugs, rather than the usual composite/RCA type. It's useful to see that the original packaging contained a converter.

  9. Kevin Preston Says:

    I've seen a lot of these up at Good Will and really never knew what they were other than maybe part of a larger game system.

    That said I'm not sure if it's the same Polaroid company that used to release cameras. I did buy one of the worst LCD televisions in my life from Wallmart which was under the Polaroid brand name and have never seen another Polaroid television in there ever since.

    I suspect after the numerous complaints that they dropped the brand but knowing USA when something is defect on the market they just change the name of the company and continue on. This television hums, has artifacts and can't even sync with the hdmi correctly.

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