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Mr. Game&Watch
The logo of Game&Watch
gameandwatch.ch

The great Nintendo Handheld Games from the 80's ...!

Videopoche FAQ
by Gawaleus and Gawcol
Videopoche
This FAQ is all about Videopoche ;-)


Update 26th of February 2010 (at the end of this FAQ):
Information from a former employee from a French distributor.



F. What stands Videopoche for?
A. Freely translated something like: Pocketvideogame.


F. Are these "real" Game&Watch?
A. Yes.


F. Where did they come from?
A. For a long time it was believed, that Videopoche was from Belgium. In the meantime we have more facts. They tell us, that Videopoche more likely was from France.

F. How do you know they are rather from France, instead of from Belgium?
A. I got many very interesting information from a well known collector from Belgium - David (aka Gawcol). He did a lot of research on Videopoche and knows a lot about it.


F. Which Game&Watch where released as Videopoche?
A. From the following series:
- Gold Series: 3 (all)
- Wide Screen Series: 6

This makes nine known games which came out as Videopoche.


Gare au fosse!
(Manhole MH-06)
Gare aux outils!
(Helmet CN-07)
Le lion est laché
(Lion LN-08)
Les parachutistes
(Parachute PR-21)
La pieuvre devoreuse
(Octopus OC-22)
La cuisine ensorcelée
(Chef FP-24)
L'incendie
(Fire FR-27)
Le pont des tortues
(Turtle Bridge TL-28)
Les indiens attaquent
(Fire Attack ID-29)


F. The box of the Fire FR-27 shows the Fire RC-04 from the Silver series...?
A. Yes, but inside the box was a FR-27. Also regarding the size of the box and of the polytray, there must been a Fire from the Wide Screen series in it. So far I've seen two of these games and both did have the Fire FR-27.


F. Was there a G&W logo on the box?
A. No. Only the games themselves did have the Game&Watch logo.


F. So, the games didn't get changed?
A. Yes. They where the same games like the standard versions.


F. But the names of the games where different?
A. Yes and no. The boxes did show the names of the games translated into French, but the games themselves remained unchanged. So they did have their original name imprinted.

Here are further information about Videopoche, given by Gawcol (thank you very much!):
 
First I start with the laws part, which is also important to support what I say, Videopoche is from France.

LANGUAGE LAW IN BELGIUM
In Belgium there is a law that all electronic device should have French AND Dutch manual, there have always been problems between the dutch and the french speaking part in Belgium. Some collectors can say it should only have french manual, because it's from the french part of Belgium, but that's not true, it's the LAW that says it should have FRENCH and DUTCH manual, so the games sold in Flanders (dutch speaking part) had to contain the french manual too (and they did), the games distributed in the French speaking part had to have the dutch manual too (and they did).

To solve this problem, Belgian distributors made it easy, they just added a dutch and a french foldout manual that actually not really fit the box, it was a cheap print on A4 paper, font looks like it was typed with old typing machine ;) You might have seen it.

LAW IN FRANCE
In France there was language laws too, but it goes further than in Belgium. In Belgium the law just wants to make sure that people understand the manual and the obligation for the two languages is also for keep the countrie together. You almost have to be Belgian to understand this.

In France there was a big problem with the upcoming ENGLISH, the French want to protect it from the bad influence of ENGLISH. The French were scared their language would fade or become FRANGLAIS, a mix, that's why they made laws for it!
One of the laws was the radio stations had to play 4 french songs on 5, so only 20 % maximum of music on french radio stations could be English. Another law was that "typical english words", mostly new due to technology, had to be translated (where other countries just took these words from English), examples TYPICAL FOR THE EIGTIES -> WALKMAN -> oh no, the french thought, we have to find a word, and they did -> BALADEUR
This is also why the French don't have a computer, but an "ordinateur", where all other countries in the world just call it computer or pc (even the other french speaking countries). There is lots of these words the french invented. Radio stations, televisions or just public persons that used english words in their program or speech, got a fee. They took this very serious and here we come with the third thing, all products need to have indications in FRENCH, also on the box. ALL ENGLISH WORDS HAVE TO BE AVOIDED, sometimes French were very creative in this, and it resulted to funny words sometimes, that's why JI21 and Videopoche were invented.
This pictures shows an example of the obligated translations:
Videopoche translations

(Maybe in Germany there was a law too, because that I don't know, but it's weird they called it tricOtronic).

In Belgium distributors only had to put 2 foldout papers, so just put their sticker on the nice box from Nintendo, so they could save money, afterall that's what it's all about.


TALK TO THE SELLER
One of the Game&Watch seller from the eighties still exist. The man will be retired in 7 years now, and promised he will call me for sell his Nintendo displays and official dealer sign. He had a WATCH shop in the beginning of the eigties. His shop is located in Kortrijk, Belgium. The main brand he sells is CASIO.

He also told me about the Belgian obligation for have manual in French and Dutch. It’s not just Nintendo that had that problem. He had the same with Casio distributor he bought from. The Casio’s watches also had 2 foldout manuals, one in Dutch, one in French. Sometimes he bought watches from other resellers. Then he copied the casio manuals. Talking to sellers learned me a lots of how distributors worked and how Nintendo Belgium was.


BUYING VIDEOPOCHE
I bought a lots of Videopoche games, hoping to find a clue. I contact buyers of other Videopoche games too that ended on eBay. Well I found very fast two Videopoche games that still had the original ticket in the box. One was from Paris, the other from further, I forgot the city, but it was more to the south.

Some of the shops I contacted had very much information, and told me all about it, the name they come up with theirselves is always Kemba. When I show Videopoche box they never saw it. I also went to several shops in Wallonie (the french part of Belgium), only one of them could talk about Game&Watch and also had the original displays, he also never heard about Videopoche. Famous French collectors also mailed me they thought Videopoche is french and not Belgian.


DISTRIBUTORS
Some collectors say There is already JI21 in France, so Videopoche must be Belgian then. Why would France have two distributors.
France is a big country, so it’s not unlikely there were several distributors in France (even at the same time). I don’t know if there existed a “Nintendo France”, but I know very much about “Nintendo Belgium”.

Nintendo Belgium contacted the shops directly, being actual competition for the distributors. It’s not clear if the distributors bought from Nintendo Belgium or had another source. That caused some kind of weird concurrence, 3 different toy stores told me this. Nintendo couldn’t avoid shops buying from distributors too.

Nintendo was always more expensive than buying from the distributors, but Nintendo always gave nice gifts. An example is the (OLD) Nintendo cabinets. One shop claims he had a Game&Watch demo unit in the eighties! I don’t know about that, and I have never seen one. Also they got invited to Nintendo partys with dinners and sometimes got free city trips.

Important is the distributors were not just distributing Nintendo Game&Watch, they also distributed other toys. Examples of Belgian distributors are Kemba and Pintec.
Some pictures below:
Game&Watch Videopoche distributors
Game&Watch Videopoche distributors


Here is another distributor, Albanel et Cie, also Belgian according to me, but here is not adress I bought it from a Belgian guy that claimed he had it since he was young. But I’ve not done research on this distributor.
Videopoche distributor

This is a picture of the Kemba building:
Videopoche Kemba

Unfortunally the Kemba went broke, so it’s used for something else now. I went to the Pintec adress, but also Pintec was no longer there.

Nintendo also went broke, weird enough, in the beginning of the nineties, just when you think they made so much money in the eighties, still they went broke. According to the shops this was because of their big expenses and fancy dinners, one shop claims he could go to LA and Nintendo paid it.

All the toy shops told me the same and one gave me the phone number of “the guy that bought all when Nintendo went broke”. Ok, this was interesting. I called to the guy and he invited me “at his company”, not really for giving me information, but more for trying to sell me things.

When I arrived at the adress, I was amazed, because it was the main office of a games shops group, named “Game mania” that started in the nineties.

This guy was already into selling games and he knew there was a big auction because Nintendo went broke. He went to the auction and bought games offcourse that he resold in his shops. But some things he didn’t put in his shops and they were still at his storage building. These were the Nintendo neon signs. Nintendo of America made them especially on 220 volt for Nintendo Belgium and they were just shipped to Belgium when they went broke. So I bought all his Nintendo neon lights and this was a nice deal. I had to drive several times, they were big and still in unopened package. I also bought the “official dealer” light that I still have.

Well this is not about Videopoche, but I just want to shop that I’m really doing research.

These are the Nintendo neon signs and my official dealer lamp:
http://www.majhost.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=86078


PROJOUET
One time when I bought a Videopoche game, I got a weird registration card. The Videopoche game was not Nintendo, as Videopoche sold more than just Nintendo. Nevertheless, it’s still Videopoche so for me it’s the closest proof there is. The game I bought was “Les Robots”. It shows that the actual distributor was PROJOUET, located in Paris (France). The Videopoche and Kidget electronic is probably not more than a translation for Game&Watch, making it part of a group of games. Well it’s smart what they did. They sell severall brands and combine it all in one name “Kidget electronic”

Game&Watch was too english, some called it JEU ET MONTRE (like JI21), some called it JEU DE SOCIETE VIDEO AVEC HEURE ET REVEIL (like the french speaking belgians).

And Projouet came up with a more fancy name, VIDEOPOCHE (jeu video de poche), or pocket video game, actually they almost invented the “POCKETSIZE” word, before Nintendo even used it. So the Videopoche games were just one part of the total things that Projouet sold, Kidget electronique, the word on the sides of the box, is also one of the funny translations of “electronic gadget”. The french language laws forced distributors to make their own boxes (belgian distributors didn’t have to do that effort).
Videopoche
Videopoche
Fact is, that the old French collectors DID support my theory. One collector told me he collects G&W since the eighties and he found both JI21 and Videopoche on flee markets.

 



Update 26th of February 2010:
I did find a former employee, who was working for a French distributor from 1991 to 1992. The company was named ITMC and was known with their brand Yeno. The former employee was able to answer some of my questions regarding G&W in France.

Q. As far as I know, YENO in Gennevilliers (located near Paris, France) was a distributor of Game&Watch.
A. Yes, but it was a brand.

Q. In Gennevilliers there was another distributor for Game&Watch. It was called ITMC (or I.T.M.C.).
A. ITMC was the name of the company and Yeno was the brand!

Q. What do you know about ITMC? Does it still exist or was it sold or closed down?
A. After the trend for LCD games slowed down, ITMC Yeno distributed a range of toy computers from Vtech. The company was not big. I don't remember the turnover company sold to lexibook.

Q. How many people were working there and what was your job?
A. About 12 people, I was a sales representive.

Q. From 1980 to 1991 Nintendo released a total of 59 different Game&Watch games. Do you know which ones were distributed by ITMC/YENO?
A. About 15 different ones.

Q. Do you know in what year ITMC/Yeno did start distributing G&W and in what year did it stop?
A. I think from 1982 to 1986.

Q. Who did ITMC/Yeno sell the G&W to? To resellers or directly to shops? Did it sell the games in the whole country or just part of it?
A. To reseller and shops (Hypermarket) and in the whole country.

Q. On a Game&Watch game I have seen a sticker with the name Yeno from Hamburg, Germany. Do you know if there was a relation between Yeno in France and Yeno in Germany?
A. Yes, it was the same owner of the company that started another company in Germany.

Q. It’s known, that Game&Watch was sold in France with the name J.i21 (instead of Game&Watch) as well. Probably because of the French laws who tells, that the use of English words must be avoided. So the distributors created “French” boxes. Another name for Game&Watch was Videopoche. For a long time it was believed, that Videopoche was from Belgium. But today, we have information which tells us, that Videopoche probably was French.
A. Sorry, I don't know.

Q. What do you know about Videopoche?
A. Nothing.

Q. What boxes did Yeno use to sell Game&Watch? Was it the regular English boxes (with a Yeno-sticker on them) or boxes with the logo of J.i21 or even Videopoche or something else?
A. I think we got both, depending on the source we got them from.

Q. Where did ITMC/Yeno buy the G&W from? Did they import them from Nintendo Japan?
A. Directly from Nintendo.

Q. Do you know anything about any other distributors of G&W, such as Projouet (Paris), Albanel et Cie. (location unknown)?
A. No, sorry.


There was a few more questions, but he couldn't answer them because he knew nothing about it. But still, his information are helpful and shed some more light (and create some more questions as well...). There are still many questions unanswered, regarding G&W in France and Videopoche...

To be continued...!



We hope we could answer at least some of your questions. Of course, many questions still are unanswered. But maybe we'll find out more about Videopoche ;-)

Note: We have researched the information in this FAQ as good as possible. But we can't promise that they are fully correct or completely. If you find something which is not correct, or if you have additional information, we would appreciate if you would drop me a line, thank you very much!

Many thanks to:
David (Gawcol) for providing many information and pictures.
Michael Panayiotakis, who did allow me to use some of his pictures. Mike's homepage can be found here: http://mpanayiotakis.proboards.com