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Not to be confused with Neptune

Laserium Neptune (sold in El Kadsre as Nitrome Neptune, in Brazil as Tectoy Neptune, In Randomia as Gamemate Neptune, in Schelipoerys as Vuecoms Neptune, in Pearl as Nexus Neptune and in Victoria as Netuna) is an upcoming hybrid video game console, developed by Nimbus Electronics Limited, Konix Systems and Mega Asder, under license from Quest Software & Technology, who released the predecessor Laserium Mars.

History

Laserium Neptune

The former logo of Laserium Neptune, used for its Kickstarter and early promotional material.

Background

Between February 2018 and May 2019, the Neptune was designed and developed as "grassroots" activity born in a brainstorm session. The console was pitched to Virgin Group and Sinclair Research before the polishing of the design continued for their next investor, which turned out to be Old Dominion Interactive Media Group.

In May 2019, three companies (Nimbus Electronics Limited, Konix Systems and Mega Asder) pitched their designs for the next installment in the Mars console franchise to the IP owner Old Dominion Interactive Media Group, which also developed the console. Shortly after this process, Nimbus and Konix noticed that their designs and specs were similar to each other's, and started collaborating on their improved design.

Development

After Nimbus and Konix showed their improved design a month later to Old Dominion Interactive Media Group, ODIMG granted the license to use the Laserium branding on the new console. Mega Asder soon joined the project as Nimbus and Konix needed a partner to experiment with the compability between hardware components, development of custom hardware and various other design ideas.

Mega Asder soon hired ex-Flare Technology and ex-GamePark/GPH employees. They soon developed, in collaboration with Konix Systems, the custom system-on-chip codenamed Phoenix One, being a reference to Flare Technology.

Fraunhofer, Genesi and sMedio lent their hands at assisting in the development of the hardware components for prototypes. Konix Systems brought on Lynx co-designer R.J. Mical, and Xbox co-creators Seamus Blackley and Ted Hase to assist at R&D.

In July 2019, Old Dominion Interactive Media Group was merged into a new video games-focused venture between Qualis and Sega, Laserium Sega Experiences. In August 2019, Nimbus Electronics Limited, Mega Asder and Konix Systems formed Neptune Technologies LLC and started up a Kickstarter for the console, now called Laserium Neptune, to gauge how many people were interested in the project. 

They reached USD$45 million near the end of the campaign. The original goal was USD$15 million, but they lowered the goal to USD$5 million after receiving additional funding from selling distribution rights to various companies. The Kickstarter funding was analyzed afterwards, and was said to come from outside Japan and the United States. This was done to help at clearing up what their target audience will be. However, there are plans to market Neptune to Japan as well.

In September 2019, Tectoy S.A. and AtGames were signed up to manufacture and distribute the consoles in their respective markets. That same month, the new independent video game distributors System Avenue Ltd and Sanura-Aussoft (Sanura-Australian Software) announced to take up distribution of the Neptune in the ex-Yugoslavia countries and Australia (with New Zealand and Oceania) respectively.

The same month, Laserium Sega Experiences sold its Nitrome division to NEK Holdings LLC and its previous gaming console related ventures to Quest Software & Technology, both owned by Quest.

In November, Konix Systems and Mega Asder acquired System Avenue Ltd and Sanura-Aussoft and made them part of Neptune Europe. They also assigned exclusive distribution rights in Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore to New Era. Wywy Group will still get the consoles for its entertainment centers and stores, as part of the original contract signed between them and New Era, but it's no longer exclusive.

Distribution

XPZone announced to feature the prototypes for the console, once they're completed and sent to their locations by Nimbus Electronics Limited.

For now, there isn't known information about Neptune's release in the United States. North Korea is the only country where the Neptune won't be sold, of course. The largest distributors of the console are Neptune Europe, Koch Media, New Era, Red Entertainment Distribution, AtGames, 1C Company and Tectoy.

Console distributors

The distribution of the consoles will be handled by the following companies:

Market Country(s) Distributor Release date
Kickstarter backers and third-party developers Worldwide Nimbus Electronics
Mega Asder
February-April 2020
Latin America, Central America & Carribean (LATAM) Brazil Tectoy S.A. September 2020
TBA (Mainland China)
Rest of the LATAM region Neptune Europe
Asia Middle East and South Asia (excluding Sri Lanka, India, Turkey and Pakistan) Red Entertainment Distribution
Southeast Asia (excluding Myanmar, East Timor, Laos) New Era
Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong AtGames
New Era
Foxconn
Mainland China TBA, formerly AtGames/New Era/Foxconn JV
Turkey, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Laos, East Timor, Mongolia and Myanmar Neptune Europe
South Korea TBA, formerly Samsung and LG
Europe Bulgaria, Ireland, Iceland, Belgium and ex-Yugoslavian countries Neptune Europe
Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia Anvol
Finland Bergsala (through Amo)
Neptune Europe
Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland Koch Media
Neptune Europe
Greece Zegetron
Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and the CIS 1C Company
Hungary Cenega (1C Company)
France, Spain, Andorra, Monaco, Italy, the Benelux and Germany Big Ben Interactive
Koch Media
Other countries Mahri Spectrum Technologies Corporation
Vicnora Terbit
Randomia Weldon Electronics
Eruowood TechEruo
Piramca and Alexonia Shinkyon
YingYangia, Vertinelia and Oasina Technang
Shinkitajima TOSKITA
Azara Azara Technology
El Kadsre NEK Holdings LLC (Nitrome)
Victoria Molsye Games
Republic of Guy GEC Electronics
  • Ecoplay and Concentra - Produtos Para Criancas, S.A. in Portugal
  • Bergsala, Nordisk Film and Koch Media in Denmark, Sweden and Norway
  • Link Distribution Ltd and Funbox Media in the United Kingdom
  • Tommo Inc in Canada
  • Mitsui and Sega in Japan and Pearl.

Game distributors

  • Bandai Namco Partners in Australia and New Zealand
  • Play Interactive in Indonesia and Malaysia
  • Level 03 Distribution in the Benelux
  • Nordic Game Supply A/S in the Nordic countries
  • Tencent Games in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. 
  • Bandai Namco Entertainment Asia in Asia, excluding Japan, Australia, New Zealand, China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia.
  • THQ Nordic and Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe in EMEA (excluding Pearl)
  • Tommo Inc in Canada
  • Sega and Bandai Namco Games in Japan and Pearl.
  • Neptune Europe in the Middle East, across Latin America, Central America and the Carribean (excluding Brazil)

Hardware

It is a hybrid console, which means it can be used as both a home console and as a portable console. In the home console mode, the main unit can connect to a television screen or monitor through an HDMI port. Alternatively, for portable use, it can be removed from the dock and operated similarly to a tablet computer through its LCD touchscreen. It can also be placed in a standalone tabletop mode visible to several players. 

Like its predecessor, the sound system was developed by Vexner Laboratories specifically for the system.

ND Card

ND Card is a cartridge format. The ND's two initials come from Neptune, the console, and SD Card, the format that inspired ND Card. It comes from Mega Asder's design for the console, which implies the ND Card as a heavily modified SD Card-like format, able to contain up to 1 TB.

Production

Flex, AtGames and Foxconn will work with Nimbus Taiwan & the co-creators Mega Asder and Konix Systems on the primary Neptune manufacturing. Mattel was announced to support the development of Neptune, with their assistance in the new NFC-based component and accessory developed with Mega Asder and Konix Systems. As mentioned before, Tectoy will manufacture their own version for distribution in Brazil.

It was mentioned that the white and blue versions would glow in the dark, a feature suggested by Mega Asder CEO Marcus Jones when the issue about the aesthetics in the console cover design was addressed. This feature wasn't for the black version because "black can't glow in the dark", according to Jones.


Triton

The Triton (named after the largest known moon of the planet Neptune), known by the codename Project Mirai during development, and by its nickname Neptune VR in the early stages, is a headset developed by Mega Asder, Konix Systems and their joint venture MAK Immersive Technologies LLC.

Unlike PlayStation VR and Microsoft HoloLens, the headset works as both a cross reality/augmented reality headset and a virtual reality headset.
Project Mirai

The former Project Mirai logo

 It was designed to be fully functional with the Neptune. In certain games and demos for the VR, the player wearing the headset acts separately from other players without the headset.

The Triton has a 6 inch PenTile AMOLED panel, with a display resolution of 4K, with a 270-degree field of view. The headset uses "room scale" tracking technology, allowing the user to move in 3D space and use motion-tracked handheld controllers to interact with the environment.

The headset will launch with Laserium Neptune worldwide in September 2020.

Cut features

  • Mega Adser's inital pitch for the console included the fact that it was planned to be optimized enough to support HDMI 1.3, composite video/stereo audio RCA, 9-pin Mini-DIN, USB Type A, and USB Type B through adapters, but after Nimbus/Konix's version was picked, the idea was scrapped.
  • Planned to be a feature in the final version, all systems could be used as development kits, allowing any Neptune owner to also be a developer, without the need for licensing fees. However, this idea was scrapped after an investors meeting at Konix Systems, where it got negative reception. There was fear of raising the price if this were to be implemented.

Software

The system does not use region locking.

Operating system

Neptune OS, also known under its codename Klondike, is the operation system for the Neptune game console. Like its predecessor Mars, the system utilizes an ultra-modified NewSystem operating system, albeit an embed version this time, with support for Linux operating systems confirmed for the Kickstarter prototypes.
Neptune system sounds

Easter eggs

Ryan Martin hinted at an easter egg in an Instagram post, which was a puzzle with gameplay similar to Lights Out.

Media support

The software includes the last position memory feature on its native media player software. This was to make Neptune more of an general entertainment system (a device with integrated features from personal assistants, portable media players and so on), in case the system wasn't used as a gaming console.

The soundtracks on the Neptune games is required to be uncompressed and lossless.

Games and applications

Main article: List of Laserium Neptune games

Built-in apps

Neptoodle

Neptoodle

Neptoodle allows the user to create both word and picture-based notes with the stylus, add sound, and put them together to create frame-by-frame flipbook-style animations. It's included as a preloaded program on Laserium Neptune at official launch for consumers.

The service is similar to Flipnote Studio and Miiverse's handwritten post features.

Neptune Partners program

In August 2019, with the Kickstarter campaign, it was announced that Konix Systems, Mega Asder and Nimbus Electronics Limited formed a developer-centric program Neptune Partners to provide content and help the manufacturing and production for Laserium Neptune. Every backer who backed $1000 or more became part of the program, when it was confirmed that the backer in question was a developer. Nimbus announced that in the future, anyone could apply to the program, however, the requests may take up to a week to process, due to possible overflow.

The companies taking part in the program include:

  • NEC announced that the TurboGrafx-16, TurboGrafx-CD, TurboDuo, TurboExpress and SuperGrafx game libraries will be available in the Arcade, within the Neptune's game store (codenamed Alpha Zone Store).
  • Tommo, Nightdive Studios, their Retroism label, CosmiPiko Interactive and Billionsoft also announced to release old titles into the Arcade, with a few new titles available at launch.
  • Unity Technologies announced to add support for Laserium Neptune into its Unity game engine, starting after next few updates.
  • THQ Nordic announced to publish games for Laserium Neptune in the near future.
  • Testronic Laboratories and Keywords Studios announced to provide official QA and related services for indie titles and future console accessories.
  • STO Express, Sky Team, OneWorld and Parcel Force Worldwide announced to assist at speedy delivery to distributors, claiming that they can help at delivery of units with each delivery being 550,000 units total, taking less than 12 hours for every delivery.
  • Humble Bundle announced to work together with Neptune Technologies and Old Dominion Interactive Media Group at improving the built-in game store and selling Neptune exclusives.
  • Amazon Game Studios, Atari, Autodesk, Adobe Systems and Devolver Digital are rumored to become Neptune Partners.
  • In an exclusive content partnership, Tectoy announced to publish Zeebo Sports and all first-party Zeebo games in the Arcade.
  • Nokia announced to release all first-party N-Gage (game console) and N-Gage (online service) games, as part of a partnership which includes Neptune's distribution in Finland.
  • Abstraction Games, Armature Studio, Mediatonic Limited and iNiS announced to become the first third-party developers for the Neptune.
  • Streaming service Screen announced to launch its service on Neptune on the console's launch day.
  • Funai became a Neptune Partner around November 2018.
  • Foundry (UK) announced to collaborate on the Neptune's optimization and software development related activity, as well as the console's add-on Neptune VR.

Reception

Kickstarter

As the project was announced in August 2019, the project received positive reception in general, though some have criticized the console over it's major downgrade in memory and storage capacity compared to it's predecessor Mars.

Marketing

Similar to Sega of America's marketing in the late 80's and early 90's, and Devolver Digital's "hip and unapologetic" marketing style, Laserium Neptune attempted to challenge its main competitors Sony (on the grounds of being restrictive), Nintendo (for it's appeal to mostly children) and Microsoft (for "not having any console exclusives"), through international marketing campaigns, such as Unlocked.

Unlocked marketing campaign

Nimbus Electronics and advertising agency S&K/Banne made numerous commercials for the Unlocked campaign.

The first and most famous print ad that came out of the campaign was the simple "$199" ad, featuring the console's logo and the slogan, with the price being the only text shown. This is a reference to the infamous moment in E3 1995 when Sony Computer Entertainment America's then-President Steve Race announced the price for the original PlayStation, partially to mock Sega for the high price of its Sega Saturn console.

Television commercials

Unlocked

As part of the campaign, S&K/Banne and production company DB/Clearwater Productions created the following commercials:

  • $199: The commercial consists of footage of few people "swimming in cash", throwing it around and playing pillow fights with banknotes stuffed in the pillows. The ad ends with the text "Neptune = $199. Don't waste it on anyone else."
    • Music: "All This Money" by Injury Reserve
  • Hello: The commercial shows off the Neptune, with specs listed around it. The commercial ends in a climax, with showcase of games coming to Neptune, as well as some projects started by developers supported by the Neptune And You program. After this fast showcase, the console is shown, followed by the logo and the slogan.
    • Music: "BOOM" by the X Ambassadors

Use Your Head

S&K/Banne, under Neptune Europe's supervision, also created advertisements for the Neptune VR addon, to advertise immersivity of the addon and the games it supports. The Neptune VR commercials follow the similar pattern: a person tries to replicate video game situation with real world objects or beings, followed by a pause and the text "Video Games ≠ Real Life", then the showcase of the NVR headset with the advertising slogan "Use Your Head".

  • Animal Hunter: The commercial takes place in a pet store, where a person tries to slay numerous animals. The pet store owner tries to stop the person, screaming unintelligebly.
  • Rider: A person attempts to mount an ostrich, and then an alligator, followed by a back break by falling off the ostrich and being eaten by the alligator.

Companies related to Neptune

Nimbus Electronics Limited

Main article: Nimbus Electronics

Konix Systems

Konix Systems is a Spanish/Taiwanese electronics company, founded in 1995 as Konix de España S.p.A., a Barcelona-based subsidiary owned by Konix, the British electronics company. They spun off from Konix in 2002, and are allowed to keep their Konix name. Shortly after spinning off, they bought out unknown Taiwanese semiconductors and production facilities, and formed their second headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan.

In 2006, they acquired patents related to ApeXtreme, Indrema L600, the Eve handheld console, XGP, Gizmondo, 3DO consoles, Ericsson's Red Jade and TapWave Zodiac, hoping to launch a handheld and home console series within 15 years. Elements from these parents were used to build the core of Konix's version for the Neptune console pitch.

In 2019, Nimbus Electronics announced that a possible acquisition of Konix Systems may take place (both of them are co-developers on Laserium Neptune) for £1.7 billion, depending on the success of the Neptune. If this were to succeed, Konix may become Nimbus Barcelona.

Mega Asder

Mega Asder
Mega Adser is a Johannesburg-based semiconductor and video game console manufacturer, founded in 2009.

MAK Immersive Technologies LLC

MAK Immersive Technologies LLC is a virtual reality-focused technology company, founded in 2019 as a joint venture between Mega Asder and Konix Systems. It is headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Mega Asder and Konix hired ex-employees from CastAR, Sensics and Worldviz, to work on a VR add-on for Laserium Neptune. The concept of Neptune VR was finalized by the time of the launch of the Kickstarter campaign.

Neptune Europe

Neptune Europe is the European distribution arm of Konix Systems and Mega Asder. Its division is Neptune Australia. They are the dominant first-party distributor of the console, with numerous connections, to prominent figures in the consumer electronics and video game console industries, and the console's previous international distributors which are now clients.

They specialize in selling and marketing the console and its games in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, Africa), Asia, Latin America and in CIS countries.

History

Konix Systems and Mega Asder initially announced their distribution joint venture in September 2019 under the temporary name Mekon Distribution. They took up distribution duties in Bulgaria, Ireland, Iceland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Belgium, the entire continent of Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Laos, East Timor, Mongolia and Myanmar[note 1], preferring nationwide distribution over store exclusivity.

In November 2019, they acquired and merged System Avenue Ltd (the former distributor of Neptune in ex-Yugoslavian countries) into Neptune Europe's operations.

Neptune Australia

Neptune Australia Pty. Ltd. (NepAu) is Oceania's local head office for sales, licensing and distribution of Laserium Neptune and its games to the Oceanic region. It is headquartered in Melbourne, Victoria, and is a private company wholly owned by Neptune Europe. The company was formed after acquisition of the former Oceanic distributor, Sanura-Aussoft, in November 2019 by Konix Systems and Mega Asder.

Neptune And You program

In March 2020, Neptune Europe set up temporary workshops in schools, libraries and other public places, in order to educate people in third-world countries on information technology and how to make video games. This gave Africa, the Carribean, South Asia and Latin America more access to game development for consoles, and thus allowed Neptune Europe to strengthen their software lineup, with support provided for interested developers provided.

Notes

  1. The former distributions in the regions, listed in respective order, were Pulsar Games, Dizons Carphone, Hagar (owner of Hagkaup), Stadlbauer Marketing + Vertriebs GmbH (AT/LI/CH), AIM Productions NV, Prima Interactive (in South Africa), Gamefinity (in the rest of Africa, formerly Ster-Kinekor Entertainment until it was sold in 2018), Alesayi United and NewBoy (in the Gulf), BUG MultiSystem Ltd (in Israel), Zegetron AE (in Cyprus), a collaborative effort between CD Media and ARAL (in Turkey), NC Games & Entertainment with Rola Games (in Latin America), and New Era (in Sri Lanka, India, Turkey and Pakistan) and Red Entertainment Distribution (in Laos, East Timor, Mongolia and Myanmar).

    Zegetron still distributes the console in Greece.

References

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