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Editorial


For me the story of the Konix Multi-system evokes a variety of emotions, strongest amongst them are excitement, frustration and disappointment.

If I've already lost you because you don't know what a Konix Multi-system is - read this explanation, then come back and see what I'm talking about.

As a young boy, my dominant passion was for video games, this has stayed with me long into adulthood - although I have since found other things to be passionate about in the gaps between gaming.
I couldn't help but be captivated by the magical spell the Multi-system seemed to be casting over me. It was a video game system designed to bring the arcade into the home for real. As was often the case at the time, manufacturers all claimed their machine offered arcade quality gaming for a modest price. In fact the only machine as far as I'm concerned that truly succeeded in bringing arcade gaming into the home was the SNK NEOGEO - however, not only was the machine out of most teenagers budgets, but the games cost half as much as the machine did (not really a practical proposition). I am a strong advocate for all forms of gaming, not just the Multi-system and I am thoroughly enthusiastic about machines like the Sega Megadrive, Nintendo Super NES / Famicom and Atari ST and Commodore Amiga. I have owned all these machines at some time or another and have greatly enjoyed what they had to offer.

I have to give fair warning that there will be copious use of the words would, could and should throughout this website - but it's inevitable with something with such assumed yet unattained potential.

What the Multi-system offered was the impossible, it wanted to be all things to everyone, and it was probably doomed from its very moment of inception due to it's creators ambition to make it excel in every respect. Money was ploughed into its development until there was no more money, at a time where investors were scared to put money into the games industry (at least the sort of money that would be required to manufacture a machine). There was no Knight on a white horse to save Konix's vision - and then the dream was over. The machine never made it to production, but had generated such interest that it shattered the dreams of many a young gamer. Like the recycling of a corpse by Vultures, the bones were picked over and parts of the system went on to be used in other applications, such as the Flare Technology developed chipset finding it's way into a range of fruit machines and the controllers molding being used as the basis of a PC gaming peripheral. And of course it's been well written that the Flare team went on to design the Atari Jaguar which in a way embodies the spirit of the Multi-system, but it isn't a direct evolution - for products that evolved directly from the Multi-system (and there are some) we turn our gaze towards MSU.

The Multi-system and its ambitious Power Chair remain as icons in video gaming folklore. I imagine that if you were to walk down the high street with a T-Shirt with a simple white outline of the KMS Slipstream controller in its bike/plane/car configurations and a silhouette of Jeff Minter sat on the Power Chair - recoiling gun in hand and video gamers of a certain age will immediately recognize it. Not bad for something that never got released eh? Furthermore, break the ice by striking up a conversation in a bar at a convention hotel for a games conference by talking about the Multi-system and you can guarantee hours of reminiscing and a complete post mortem full of opinions on whether the machine may have made a difference, whether it would have been a success and even just why it never got to market.

Konix Multi-system T-shirt mock-up [not available for purchase - would you really want to buy one, I mean really, come on!]
Would you wear a Konix Multi-system T-shirt?

The Multi-system had an interesting journey from inception to its stillbirth. In my opinion, like many great things it died too young, and the cruellest twist of the knife was that it never got a chance to prove itself.
There are plenty of people ready to knock it - but I think things deserve a chance to prove themselves. This website is meant as a tribute to the imagination, creativity and ambition of ALL the designers and developers involved in trying to bring this dream to market. Think of it as a final nail in the coffin. Let's wrap up all the loose ends, tell the whole story (as best we can) and bring it to a close.

My motivation for producing and maintaining this website has been that I was never satisfied with the "they ran out of money" line so often used in Multi-system obituaries. How could a machine with such potential simply fade away? How could investors be so blind as to the potential return this machine could have made not to have clamoured at the potential to reap the rewards of a risky but fruitful investment? Could it really be a "Dick Rowe" story all over again? (The A&R man who didn't sign the Beatles).

Like some products - it polarizes opinion, you are in one of two camps, those who loved the idea and completely bought into it - and those who thought it was ridiculous and was doomed to failure.

In creating this website I have attempted to collate all the information available regarding this machine. This website doesn't just offer my opinion, and frankly I admit - I am completely biased, it also offers new information not commonly known to people who have heard of the Multi-system, but who don't know the entire story.

I have shamelessly re-used pictures from around the internet (mostly with permission sought and obtained). I have also sourced most of the articles written about the KMS in a variety of magazines worldwide, and have offered them scanned for you to read yourselves. If a magazine is out of print and is not available to purchase as a back issue then I consider it a public record and as such I offer them here for you to read.
You are of course welcome to try to purchase second hand issues from eBay and other sources, but unfortunately the publisher and the author of the magazines and articles won't get a single penny out of the resale. The authors and producers of the articles have been paid already (a long time ago) and as such shouldn't have any problem with me making their work available here to a potentially wider audience. If however any author does have a problem with me hosting the magazine scans, they should get in touch and I will gladly remove them. If someone contributed something to an article and their name hasn't been mentioned in the body of the article - I'm more than happy to give full credit.

There's an often used phrase in Show Business: "Always leave them wanting more", that's exactly what the Multi-system did for me and hence my endeavour to find out more about it.