LodgeNet (partially lost video games from streaming service; mid-1990s to mid-2000s)
The Nintendo Gateway System, launched in 1993, was a service designed to provide networked SNES, N64, GameCube, and Game Boy games. The service was designed for airplanes (and was one of the first in-seat airline entertainment services) and hotels.
LodgeNet was the most widespread pay-per-view system for hotels that used it. LodgeNet partnered with Nintendo to bring video games directly into guest hotel rooms through streaming over the LodgeNet server with the special LodgeNet controller plugging directly into the TV or LodgeNet set-top box. Pricing was usually $6.95 plus tax for 1 hour of video games. After 1 hour, the game would immediately stop and prompt the user to purchase more playtime.
Customers were able to choose from a number of Nintendo games such as Super Mario World and F-Zero. During the partnership, the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and Nintendo GameCube were made available to guests. There was a summary of the Nintendo Gateway System on both LodgeNet's and Nintendo Gateway System's (now dead) websites, which gives a good overview of where you might have been able to use the system.
Given the casual nature of the audience of the Nintendo Gateway System, Nintendo made a few simple games exclusively for the system. They were likely added around 1998, judging by the copyright dates. Three LodgeNet-exclusive games were available: Noughts & Crosses, Hangman, and Postcard Puzzle. None of these games were available commercially, and it is entirely possible that we will never get to see these in action (save Noughts & Crosses), given the duration of time since this service was in use. All that is left of the exclusives is instructions from the official website.
Due to their only being one available controller, many game ROMs had to be modded to only allow for single-player. In some games, such as Mario Tennis, the multi-player option was completely removed (no VS icon). Other times, the multiplayer icon was left in but could not be selected, or it was only possible to play against computers (such as Super Smash Bros. or F-Zero). Otherwise, from an end-user perspective, the games were complete.
The controllers used were also modded to have extra buttons, as these buttons were used to navigate the purchase screens. The N64 and GameCube controllers kept the same basic shape and feel as their console counterparts. However, on the other hand, a variation of the SNES controller was shaped more like a TV remote and even had buttons and a screen to control the TV itself.
With high-speed internet and mobile gaming becoming more popular, LodgeNet-equipped hotels began to diminish. While it's still possible to find hotels with LodgeNet-equipped rooms, they are becoming increasingly rare. Due to the superior product of officially release ROMs and normal editions, the LodgeNet-specific ROMs are hard to find if not impossible.
In about 2007 or earlier, SNES enthusiast DreamTR found a prototype PCB of Noughts & Crosses and has uploaded photos of the PCB and the game running online. The game was on an SA-1 flash cartridge. It is likely the PCB was part of the master game server, or at least had the ROM loaded onto it. However, DreamTR has not dumped the ROM online.
On February 26th, 2023, Noughts & Crosses was dumped anonymously dumped on a game preservation Discord server before leaving. Included in the files was an image for Hangman coming soon.
On April 26th, 2023, Forest Illusion would release 31 of the 38 roms from the N64 system.
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- Videoway (lost Canadian cable-box games; 1990-2006)
- Wikipedia article on the Nintendo Gateway System. Retrieved 22 Dec '20
- The Nintendo Gateway System webpage. (archived) Retrieved 22 Dec '20
- SNES Central page on the Nintendo Gateway System. Retrieved 22 Dec '20
- The Video Game Kraken article for The Nintendo Gateway System. Retrieved 22 Dec '20
- Forum post announcing Noughts & Crosses was dumped Retrieved 23 Feb '23