Old School Online Gaming: The Start Of It All The XBAND!!!

Back in the early 1990’s, old school, we all played our games in the den, living room or the basement and it was good. We could talk smack right to our buddy sitting next to us and even punch him in the arm if he won.
Then one day in 1994 Catapult Entertainment had an idea; lets play our games with our friends away from the couch and on this new thing called the XBAND.

The company had limited staff and virtually no advertising but they had big dreams to bring gaming to the future. By June of 1995 they had their gadget on the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo. The concept of playing online was fairly new at the time. Arcades were still quite popular and online gaming was not yet a household idea.

old school
They made their modem widely available at Blockbuster Video, Funcoland and other retailers plus they offered different pricing plans. One was a monthly fee of $4.95 and allowed the user to connect to the service up to 50 times per month with each additional connection costing 15 cents. The other had a monthly fee of $7.95 and granted the subscriber an unlimited number of connections per month.

The XBAND service had matchmaking, downloading mail (called “XMAIL“) and downloading the daily edition of the two XBAND newsletters, one containing generic news and the other containing platform-specific information such as leader boards and contest announcements.

old school                         old school

The modem features built-in storage for up to four users and had their friend lists but only allowed for up to ten. It also stored up to 10 incoming and 10 outgoing messages for each user. Text entry is done either through an on-screen keyboard or an optional XBAND keyboard add-on.

old school    old school
By January 1996, the XBAND network play ability had reached practically every metropolitan area and several rural areas in the U.S. The XBAND also saw some limited expansion in the Japanese market. Catapult was working on PC- and Saturn-based versions of the platform but instead went on to do more with online PC gaming as Mplayer.com.
The following old school  games have been analyzed, and online compatibility provided, by XBAND.

Genesis

Madden NFL ’95[7] Madden NFL ’96
Mortal Kombat[7] Mortal Kombat II[7] Mortal Kombat 3
NBA Jam[7] NBA Live 95
NBA Live 96
NHL ’94[7] NHL ’95[7] NHL ’96
Primal Rage
Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers
Weaponlord
SNES
Doom
Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents Major League Baseball
Killer Instinct
Kirby’s Avalanche
Madden NFL ’95
Madden NFL ’96
Mortal Kombat II
Mortal Kombat 3
NBA Jam Tournament Edition
NHL ’95
NHL ’96
Super Mario Kart
Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (secret maze game)
Weaponlord
Saturn
(Japan XBAND branded releases only)
Daytona USA Championship Circuit Edition
Decathlete
Puyo Puyo Sun
Puzzle Bobble 3
Saturn Bomberman
Sega Rally Championship Plus
Sega Worldwide Soccer ’98
Virtua Fighter Remix
Virtual On
World Series Baseball
The death of this little wonder came about in March 1997 because people could only play within their local area code. On April 30, 1997, the entire network was removed.
This was the end for them but as we all know it was not the end of online gaming as we know it.
I hope you enjoyed this little blast from retro gaming past and you should always remember where your roots are.

As always thanks for reading and you can find me on twitter @riddle43 Have an awesome day.

About riddle43

Do it for the love of the game.

3 comments

  1. I had one. Ah, memories.

  2. yeah there are a few of us out there

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