Tomy Retro Handhelds – LCD, What LCD?

The 70s were great weren’t they? The movies, the hair cuts, the clothes, the music…. Ahh those were the days. Games may have required huge amounts of imagination to suspend disbelief, but once suspended, games were nothing short of amazing (may have gone too far with the ‘amazing’ bit, but you get the picture).

So what do we have here then? Just the closest thing to real sports that Tomy had to offer, that’s what! Tomy Black Racer, and Tomy Basketball. 😀



The Tomy Black Racer (cool name hey?) was released in 1978 to critical acclaim (not sure if there really was critical acclaim by the way), and even though it says “Digital” on the front of it, I don’t think there is much in way of digital internals….

Basically, there are just multiple tapes inside that simulate the road whizzing by, and by changing the gears you make the tapes move either quickly or slowly, thus giving the effect of breakneck speeds (breakneck speeds might be going to far, but it makes for good reading right?).

Although the forward movement of the car is simulated, the track doesn’t exactly have many corners simulated, but you need to steer left and right to avoid the other cars.



*pictured bellow*
I believe that this game may have been the first handheld game to break censorship rules by the simulating enormous amounts of blood when you crash (this could be my supreme 70s child imagination kicking in though). 😀


You will see on the bottom left of the machine there is a lap counter (bit strange considering that you drive in a straight line, but what can you do hey?). The aim is to complete the largest distance in the time allocated. Crashing merely takes up precious time.

And no (before anyone asks), there isn’t force feedback on this bad boy.


Bellow are the instructions. Gotta love the early Japanese manuals. 🙂



Next up we have a Basketball sim that paved the way to classics like NBA Jam (don’t take my word on that one though) – Tomy Basketball. 😀

The interesting thing about this one is that the players do not actually run around, which in many ways gives this game more similarity to Netball instead of Basketball (imagination was/is useful). You basically just pass, defend, and shoot.


The LEDs represent the ball, and you score just like you would in real life (by pressing a button). The crowd screams during tight points, the cheer leaders are blistering hot during the half-time show, and the ref isn’t always fair (imagination working overtime once again), making this the ultimate in handheld basketball!



I’m not actually sure when this one was released, but it definitely sports superior technology than that of the Black Racer. If any of you guys know when this came out, please fill me in so I can add it to the post.



Although it may look like I am poking fun at these two machines, they really are quite fun to play. I would say my pick of the two would be Black Racer, but that’s purely because I’m not a huge basketball fan. Definitely recommended picking them up if you’re into collecting handhelds.

Tomy Slimboy Racing LCD

The Tomy Slimboy Racing is a very interesting little handheld. Some of the features on this machine would have been great on some of the Nintendo Game & Watches. Does it match up to the Nintendo classics though? I don’t want to spoil the ending, but in a word, no. 🙂


As I mentioned, there are features on the Tomy Slimboy Racing that would have been very welcomed on many Nintendo handhelds of the same era. The first of these features would be the screwed in battery cover. How often do we see Nintendo Game & Watches with missing battery covers?


The next feature on the Slimboy Racing that I would have liked to have see on many of the LCD handhelds from the same period is an on/off switch. The Slimboy Racing also has more than the usual 2 game modes that can be found on most Nintendo LCDs.


So what about the gameplay? Well first off there are many game modes to choose from. For example the easier game modes don’t actually require you to steer around the corners, you only need to accelerate, brake and pass. In the more advanced game modes you must not only brake, accelerate, and pass, but also steer around each corner. It can get quite challenging. There are other game modes in which you are racing in a straight line rather than the speedway style of track too. It’s quite impressive how much they crammed in.

One thing that I have to mention is the sound. The sound is actually quite good for reflecting the speed of your car, but man does it get annoying.


All up I don’t mind this game. I wouldn’t trade my Nintendo Game & Watches for it, but it’s unique and playable. If you can find one cheap enough, I say buy it! Speaking of buying it, I am pretty sure that there was an AussieArcade member that wanted this a while back, but I can’t remember who it was… Let me know if you read this. 😀

Tomy Lupin LSI Tabletop

Tomy released some really great handhelds back in the 80s, and Lupin is no exception. Adorning the same name as the famous animation over here in Japan (wonder if there were lawsuits), you have to shoot your way through mazes in a bloody violent orgy (the ‘bloody violent orgy’ is dependent on imagination). ?


A few details:

  • Release – exact year unknown, but in the 80s sometime
  • Power – 4x C size batteries
  • Display Type – VFD
  • Price then – Unknown
  • Price now – $25 – $90


The VFDs (vacuum fluorescent display) really stand the test of time very well. I am always impressed when I get one that plays just like the day that it was made.


Again, they didn’t seem to catch on that the controls are better with the D-Pad on the left. ?


In use the Tomy Lupin is one of my favourite Tomy games so far (not that I’ve played a heap of them though). The controls are very responsive and the mix of key grabbing, maze navigating, and pure shmup madness are a winning combo. They don’t usually go cheap, but it’s one definitely worth grabbing if you’re into VFD based handhelds. ?

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Tomy Kingman LSI Tabletop

Cant afford a home console, Game&Watch, or Arcade Cab and want to play DonkeyKong? The Tomy Kingman LSI Tabletop may very well be the answer. 🙂


A few details:

  • Release – 1983
  • Power – 4x C size batteries
  • Display Type – VFD
  • DonkeyKong clone
  • Price then – Unknown
  • Price now – $30 – $100


Although a DonkeyKong clone it is different enough that you don’t immediately feel like you’re playing an exact copy. Yes, you still have to move upwards and jump over objects hurled towards you by a freakishly handsome monkey who is obviously into interspecies relations – is it still called bestiality when it’s initiated from the animals side? Anyway, yes it is similar to DonkeyKong in that respect – the gameplay, not the bestiality you filthy animals. The thing that makes this a little bit different is on the second stage where you are avoiding objects coming straight down.

Another thing that may be glaringly obvious to DonkeyKong fans is the fact that the controls seem to be on the opposite side than what you may be used to. I was actually suprised how quickly I became accustomed to this setup though.


The VFD (vacuum fluorescent display) on the little machine is really great. I am not sure of the life on these sort of displays, but the one I have looks clear and bright.


All up a nice little machine that’s well worth having if you’re into the old Tabletop VFD games. Does it replace DonkeyKong though? Nope, not at all. Nothing can replace DonkeyKong for the thrill of climbing, jumping, killing apes (sorry PETA), and getting the girl, but this Tomy handheld is a nice little diversion to the drudgery of life. 😀