So, a couple weeks ago I was watching this video tribute to Super Mario World's 30th anniversary.
At around the 17:20 mark, in the middle of talking about various tie-in products to promote the game, it brings up Mario & Yoshi's Adventure Land. A one-episode animated movie that follows Mario and Luigi through, essentially, the events of Super Mario World.
What makes it unique is that it this is a "VCR game" of sorts that uses the Terebikko: an interactive 'quiz' device that mimics a telephone. Mario calls you. The phone rings. You pick it up. He asks you a question that needs a 1, 2, 3, or 4 response. (Or red, green, yellow, blue.)
You press the answer within the allotted time, and you get a response. (Near I can tell, it mutes the phone for the inappropriate response, but that's something we're going to find out definitively.)
And it's more than just Mario. There's a whole catalog of videos made for it in Japan, including Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon.
I found it all oddly fascinating. And my curiosity started to kick in. It seemed so simple, but it was a clever idea. I loaded the audio into Audacity and realized I could make out binary... uh oh.
See, one of the things I've always had an interest in, but never got a chance to try was demodulation of a digital signal from an audio file. Like the screeching of a modem, or a game loaded off an audio tape into a ZX Spectrum. That kind of thing. This seemed like the perfect on-ramp for it.
With very little actual information online, this also seemed like a perfect reverse engineering project in general.
I found out they released a version of this in the United States in 1989 under the Mattel label, a year after it's debut in Japan from Bandai, and... I found one on eBay for under $20 shipped. 😎
So now I'm, seemingly, irrevocably committed to this project, now that money is involved. 😏
Here's what I'm planning. I've already spent a couple days dicking around and have a stack of notes. I'm hoping to get at least several decent blog posts out of this adventure:
That last one is unlikely, but hey, if I haven't burned myself out on the entire thing by that point, who knows?
UPDATE (2021-03-10): I've finally setup a site wiki for content like this. Here's the entry for the Terebikko: https://wiki.network47.xyz/wiki/Terebikko