The Pioneer Laseractive

Posted by JerryTerrifying On Thursday, December 2, 2010 5 comments

Flipping through the Digital Press Collectors Guide I stumbled across the section for the Laseractive and was awestruck by all of its wonderful features.  This one machine, with a few add on expansion PACs, can play Laserdisc movies, CDs, CD+G, Sega Genesis carts, Sega Cd games, Turbografx Games, Turbo CD games, NEC CD Rom2 games and Mega LD games.  Look at all those different formats it can handle!  What a beast, what a sexy piece of technology.  I had to have one!

I began scanning ebay looking for deals and was instantly shut down.  There were a few buy it now auctions sitting around $1,000.  Way way to rich for my blood.  Eventually though with a little perseverance and some dumb luck I'd come across an auction for a Laseractive in the original box for about $80.  A steal.  Most other LA's that pop up go for $200 - $300 bucks.  It didn't come with an expansion PAC but I'd eventually come across one for the low low price of $25.  Which again is a freakin steal.

I asked a youtuber that had some Laseractive videos some questions and found out he had an extra Sega PAC that needed some capacitors replaced but that was about 90% functional.  He could perform the repairs and sell it for its actual worth or let it go for $25 shipped as is.  I took it as it was.  For the most part it works..some games have some issues but it's something that can be repaired when I'm a little more skillful with a soldering iron.  Several of the caps that need replacing are difficult to get to and require a more skilled hand than my own.  Some day, some day.

The Laseractive will play Audio CDs, CDV (not to be confused with Video CD) and Laserdisc movies without any expansion plugged into the expansion bay.  My other standalone LD players remote works with it just fine which was nice.  With the Sega PAC inserted and a Genesis controller plugged in I can use that in lieu of the IR remote.  The Sega PAC allows me to play Sega Genesis Games, Sega CD games and Mega LD games.  The Genesis games plug right into the expansion itself.  Every Genesis cart I've thrown at it has worked flawlessly.  Most of the Sega CD games work but some have issues with sound or the save feature.  The battery needs to be replaced.  I'm pretty sure that like the Sega CD it uses a rechargeable battery so I'll have to order the specific type of battery off of the internet as its something you can't just find at a normal store.  Maybe Radio Shack would have what I need?  I have two Mega LD games thanks to good friend The Retro Kaiser who donated them to me because he's apparently some kind of Saint of rare game giving and one of the two works perfectly while the other plays the background video but the game layer doesn't work.  I assume this is because of faulty capacitors which is why I have any trouble at all with SCD and Mega LD games.  The Laseractive is known to have issues especially with capacitors.

The NEC Pac is a little more elusive.  When one is on ebay the buy it now prices are usually in the $300 - $400 range nearly as much or more than the Laseractive itself.  With this PAC you can plug in your NEC Turbochip games as well as play NEC CD Rom2 games and LD Rom2 games.  I'm no expert at all in the world of Turbografx CD games I know there's a few different formats that require different BIOS cards and I'm not sure how it works on the LA as I've had no personal experience with it and the add on is rare.  You can use the Japanese NEC add on in an American LA but you can then only play Japanese Hu Card games.  The CD and Laserdisc based games are region free, luckily.  I would love to have this add on for the ability to play the Turbo CD games.

When the Laseractive originally came out the Sega PAC and NEC PAC each came with a controller. The Sega PAC came with a six button Genesis controller with a Gold Laseractive Logo on it. Likewise the NEC PAC came with a Turbografx Controller with similar branding.

Like any other early to mid 90's console the Laseractive had a Karaoke add on.  I believe it allowed you to plug in two microphones so you could have some awesome  duets at all your karaoke parties.  The PAC also had Volume and pitch controls.  CD+G is a format used for karaoke as CD+G stands for compact disc plus grapgics.  The graphics being the lyrics you see on the bottom of the screen.  The 90's seem like such a strange time when karaoke is involved..I have zero experience with karaoke but every CD based console from that time supports it in some way or another.  It truly baffles me as I never remember anyone being that into it, but I was just a child at the time.

Other PACs like the Computer Interface PAC allowed the Laseractive to interact with PC and Macintosh computers.  There's really not a lot of information other than a brief blurb on wikipedia.

Much like the Sega Master System there was also a 3D Goggle expansion which was so similar that the goggles could also be used with the SMS 3D expansion. 

When the LA first launched their massive size caused quite a few to be damaged upon arrival in stores.  Combined with the limited release, high cost and quick death in the market its pretty hard to find one in good working condition these days.    However the Pioneer Laseractive is one of my favorite consoles because it packs so much functionality into one massive machine.  Seriously this is the biggest console in my collection by far.  It is definitely for a serious collector or hardcore gamer that wants to experience every console there is as it's quite expensive to get the Laseractive, the needed PACs and the software.

Some of these images were taken from CyberRoach's page from his LaserActive page.  Check out the full gallery as there's a lot of really cool scans.


muragaru553 said...

That is quite awesome. Thanks for elaborating on this system. I definitely want one now, but I doubt that that will happen any time soon. Anywho, nice read and thanks for the links! Have a good day!

VK said...

Damn, how big exactly is this? :D

JerryTerrifying said...

If you look up the laseractive on youtube I've got one of two videos showing the system. It kind of gives you an idea of how big it is. The LA is bigger than most Laserdisc players which are already huge.

911BONEZ said...

Shit I need to pick one of these up. I really love the Laserdisc, and the fact it has a whole bunch of Sega add on's makes it amazing!

Oldschoolgamer said...

Great article, I remember when this system came out, had I not been a poor old boy I would of got it all you can be sure, to me it seemed like th Rolls Royce of gaming!

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