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Barcode World is a side effect of the great barcode craze that boomed in Japan in the early part of this decade. Like a lot of other quick Japanese kids' toy fads, efforts to duplicate sales figures in Western countries were pretty much fruitless. Despite the failures of barcode games and Tamagotchi ripoffs in the US, Nintendo is now trying to save itself with the introduction of Pokemon stateside. Who knows.

The basic idea behind the whole Barcode Battler series is this: You have a handheld unit with a built-in barcode reader. You look around in your kitchen pantry for products with UPC barcodes on them, and you cut out the barcode and run it through the reader on the unit. The unit takes the barcode numbers and makes up a character out of them, with RPG-style attributes. Now you can take that character and do stuff with him: build up his attributes with other barcodes, pit him against your friend's Barcode Battler characters, or hook the unit up to a Famicom and play this RPG/strategy game with your character. Although it seems too simple to be any fun, the unit sparked a two-year-long craze in Japan. Books came out listing which consumer products had the best barcodes.

Barcode World comes with a FC cart, a cord to connect the handheld Barcode Battler unit to the FC, and a deck of cards containing ready-made characters, weapons, items, and so on. Like the above, each character has a front side, and a back side giving a quick story about the character/item, as well as the barcode itself representing that character. Most of the characters are of this sort of SD variety, but the weapons are things like machine guns.

Here are a few more cards, including a "White Card" for inserting your own barcodes.

Pic: |tsr

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