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Publication numberUS20010036862 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/886,788
Publication dateNov 1, 2001
Filing dateJun 20, 2001
Priority dateOct 15, 1997
Publication number09886788, 886788, US 2001/0036862 A1, US 2001/036862 A1, US 20010036862 A1, US 20010036862A1, US 2001036862 A1, US 2001036862A1, US-A1-20010036862, US-A1-2001036862, US2001/0036862A1, US2001/036862A1, US20010036862 A1, US20010036862A1, US2001036862 A1, US2001036862A1
InventorsHiroki Kitamori, Kazukuni Hiraoka, Masao Tomizawa
Original AssigneeHiroki Kitamori, Kazukuni Hiraoka, Masao Tomizawa
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Hand-held game machine
US 20010036862 A1
Abstract
There is described a hand-held game machine including a box which is rectangular when viewed from above, a built-in battery, a game control section driven by the power supplied from the battery, and a flat display. In the game machine, the flat display is arranged substantially in the center of the surface of the box; a key entry switch is provided on one side of the longitudinal center line of the flat display; and one end of a loop string is connected to at least one corner of the box on the same side as that on which the key entry switch is provided, wherein the length of the loop string is set so that the player can place his fingers at the operating position of the key entry switch while the loop of the loop string is wrapped around at least the flat portion of his hand.
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Claims(23)
We claim:
1. A hand-held game machine comprising:
a rectangular box which is rectangular when viewed from above and includes
a battery,
a game control section activated by means of power supplied from the battery, and
a flat display;
a key entry switch disposed on the surface of the box; and
a loop string which is fixed on at least one corner of the box and has a loop, wherein
the length of the loop string is set so that the player's fingers (particularly his thumbs) can be placed at the operating position of the key entry section while the loop of the loop string is wrapped around his wrist.
2. The hand-held game machine defined in
claim 1
, wherein
(a) the flat display is disposed in substantially the center of the surface of the box;
(b) the key entry section is disposed on one side of the flat display on the surface of the box with respect to the longitudinal direction; and
(c) one end of the loop string is fixed on at least one corner on the side on which the key entry switch is disposed.
3. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 2
, wherein in the side edge of the box above the upper side of the flat display and in the side edge of the box below the lower side of the same, there are provided, in such locations so as not to hinder the player from playing a game, a member, such as a connector, which permits connection with an external device; a cartridge insert port for receiving a cartridge having game software stored therein; and various movable switches or members which are not operated or cannot be actuated during the game.
4. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 3
, wherein the hand-held game machine is a pocket-sized hand-held game machine.
5. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 1
, wherein the battery is incorporated on one side of the rectangular box with respect to the longitudinal center of the box, and the flat display is provided on the surface on the other side of the box; and one end of the loop string is fixed on the same side as that on which the flat display is disposed.
6. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 1
, wherein one end of the loop string is fixed on the same side as that on which the flat display is disposed.
7. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 6
, wherein the hand-held game machine is a pocket-sized hand-held game machine.
8. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 7
, wherein the hand-held game machine has a maximum thickness of 30 mm, a shorter side of 80 mm, and a longer side of 130 mm.
9. A hand-held game machine by which a player causes a game program to proceed through operations performed by way of a controller, the game machine including
a circuit board on which is mounted a semiconductor device for causing the game program to proceed,
a display section disposed on the upper surface of the circuit board, and
a case which houses the circuit board, the display section, and the controller, with an opening formed in the upper surface of the case, wherein
the controller at a base portion is in contact with the internal surface on the underside of the case, at an intermediate portion which passes through the opening formed in the circuit board, and comprises a shaft extending toward the opening of the case, a cross-shaped member extending radially from the shaft, and a mechanical switch provided on the cross-shaped member; and
when the shaft is tilted while the base portion of the shaft is used as a fulcrum, the shaft and the cross-shaped member press the mechanical switch.
10. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 9
, wherein the peripheral edge of the opening formed in the upper surface of the case is tapered.
11. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 10
, wherein the hand-held game machine is a pocket-sized hand-held game machine.
12. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 11
, wherein the hand-held game machine has a maximum thickness of 30 mm, a shorter side of 80 mm, and a longer side of 130 mm.
13. A game machine by which a player causes a game program to proceed through operations performed by way of a controller, the game machine including
a circuit board on which is mounted a semiconductor device for causing the game program to proceed,
a display section disposed on the upper surface of the circuit board, and
a case which houses the circuit board, the display section, and the controller, with an opening formed in the upper surface of the case, wherein
the controller at a base portion is in contact with the internal surface on the underneath of the case, at an intermediate portion which passes through the opening formed in the circuit board, and comprises a shaft extending toward the opening of the case, a cross-shaped member extending radially from the shaft, and a mechanical switch provided on the cross-shaped member; and
when the shaft is tilted while the base portion of the shaft is used as a fulcrum, the shaft and the cross-shaped member press the mechanical switch.
14. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 13
, wherein the peripheral edge of the opening formed in the upper surface of the case is tapered.
15. A cartridge to be used in combination with a connector having a projection section on which contact pins are aligned in a row,
the cartridge including
memory having program stored therein,
a circuit board having wiring patterns formed thereon and having the memory provided on the wiring patterns, and
a case in which the circuit board is housed, wherein one end of the wiring patterns extends to one end of the circuit board; the case has at one end a hollow section enclosed with an upper wall portion, a lower wall portion, and left and right side wall portions; the hollow section receives the projection section of the connector; and one end of the wiring patterns is within the hollow section,
wherein
the upper wall portion, the lower wall portion, and the left and right wall portions are integrally formed together.
16. A hand-held game machine which permits the player to play a game through use of the cartridge defined in
claim 15
, the game machine comprising:
a connector removably and electrically connectable with the cartridge;
a semiconductor device which causes the game program of the cartridge to proceed;
a display section which communicates the progress of the game program to the player;
a controller by way of which the player performs entry operations; and
a circuit board electrically connected to the connector, the display section, and the controller, wherein the display section and the controller are disposed on the upper surface of the circuit board; the connector is disposed on the lower surface of the circuit board; and the connector has a projection section including contact pins which come into electrical contact with wiring patterns provided on the circuit board.
17. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 16
, wherein the semiconductor device is provided on the lower surface of the circuit board so as to become opposite to the cartridge inserted into the connector, and a wall portion is disposed between the semiconductor device and the connector.
18. A hand-held game machine by which a player causes a game program to proceed through operations performed by way of a controller, the game machine including
a circuit board on which is mounted a semiconductor device for causing the game program to proceed,
a display section disposed on the upper surface of the circuit board, and
a case which houses the circuit board, the display section, and the controller, with an opening formed in the upper surface of the case, wherein
the case has an indentation in the center of the bottom surface, and the indentation has tapered portions where the player's fingers touch the bottom surface of the case when the player holds the case with both his hands while playing a game.
19. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 18
, wherein (a) a string is fixed on at least one corner of the box and has a loop, and (b) the length of the loop string is set so that the player's fingers (particularly his thumbs) can be placed at the operating position of the key entry section while the loop of the loop string is wrapped around his wrist.
20. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 19
, wherein one end of the loop string is fixed on at least one corner on the side on which the key entry switch is disposed.
21. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 19
, wherein one end of the loop string is fixed on the same side as that on which the flat display is disposed.
22. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 21
, wherein the hand-held game machine is a pocket-sized hand-held game machine.
23. The hand-held game machine as defined in
claim 22
, wherein the hand-held game machine has a maximum thickness of 30 mm, a shorter side of 80 mm, and a longer side of 130 mm.
Description
    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to a hand-held game machine which comprises a built-in independent battery and thereby enables a player to play a game during travel; for example, in a car, on a train, while walking, or while outdoors. Further, the present invention relates to a hand-held game machine which enables the player to play a game through use of cartridge having a game program stored therein.
  • [0003]
    2. Description of the Related Art
  • [0004]
    A known game machine of this type is described in Japanese Patent Application Laid-open No. 8-77883. The hand-held game machine comprises a main body which is rectangular when viewed from top, a liquid crystal screen which is provided in the center of the main body and is used as a display screen, and key entry switches provided in the vicinity of the respective longitudinal side edges of the main body. While holding the respective side edges of the main body with both hands, the player can enjoy playing a game by actuation of the key entry switches with his thumbs. However, the foregoing conventional hand-held game machine raises a problem of being easily broken when, for example, the player bumps into another person and drops the game machine. Particularly, when absorbed in playing the game, the player is apt to become very careless about his surroundings. For this reason, there is a high probability of the player encountering the foregoing accident, particularly when playing the game while walking.
  • [0005]
    Breakage of the game machine is considered ascribable to use of so-called brittle material, such as hard, brittle glass or hard resin, for a housing which constitutes the hand-held game machine and houses a flat display and various electronic components. However, no alternative to such a material has yet been put forward.
  • [0006]
    Some hand-held game machines are provided with a chain commonly used for a key holder. However, no consideration is given to a player who plays a game while the chain is wrapped around his hand.
  • Cartridge and Connector
  • [0007]
    A conventional cartridge and connector used with the hand-held game machine are described in Japanese Patent Application Laid-open No. 1-152482 and have a structure such as that shown in FIG. 27.
  • [0008]
    A cartridge 161 comprises a circuit board 162—on which predetermined wiring patterns are formed and a semiconductor device, such as ROM, is mounted; and a case body 163 which houses the circuit board 162 and includes an upper case 163 a and a lower case 163 b. The circuit board 162 is provided on the internal surface of the lower case 163 and remains in contact therewith. A hollow portion 161 a is formed in one end of the cartridge 161, and the exposed wiring patterns of the circuit board 162 are accessible through the hollow portion 161 a. While aligned, the wiring patterns extend toward one side edge of the circuit board 162.
  • [0009]
    The connector 164 has a square C-shaped cross section and comprises a first wall portion 164 a which receives the cartridge 161, a second wall portion 164 b for supporting the lower case 163 b of the cartridge 161 from the outside, mounting feet 164 c used in mounting the connector 164 on a circuit board, and contact pins 164 d disposed in a side-by-side configuration on the internal surface of the first wall portion 164 a so as to be elastically deformable (see FIG. 28). The cartridge 161 is fitted into the space between the first wall portion 164 a and the second wall portion 164 b while the wiring patterns of the circuit board 162 are brought into contact with the respective contact pins 164 d of the connector 164. At this time, the contact pins 164 d and the wiring patterns of the circuit board 162 are pressed from above by the first wall portion 164 a and from below by the second wall portion 164 b. Even if the cartridge 161 or the connector 164 is warped, it will be corrected, thereby ensuring the contact between the cartridge 161 and the connector 164.
  • [0010]
    However, in a case of the game machine which uses such a connector 164 having the second wall portion 164 b, the thickness of the hand-held type game machine itself is increased by the thickness of the second wall portion 164 b. Accordingly, the player encounters difficulty in holding the game machine and while playing the game. Further, the game machine becomes difficult to place in a small storage space, such as a pocket and difficult for the player to carry.
  • [0011]
    Although a recent game machine has been made so compact that the player can carry it, other electronic devices has also been made portable. A person will simultaneously carry a plurality of electronic devices. Against this backdrop, there exists demand for a more compact and lower-profile hand-held game machine.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0012]
    In order to solve the previously-described problems, the object of the present invention is to provide a hand-held game machine capable of solving problems such as inadvertent dropping of the game machine even when the player is playing a game.
  • [0013]
    To this end, after studying a hand-held game machine having a loop string which permits insertion of a hand and is attached to the main body case of the game machine, as well as the position of the main body case where the string is to be attached, the inventors of the present patent application have found a position for the loop string such that the player does not have any sense of incongruity when playing a game with the loop string wrapped around his wrist and whereby the stability and operability of the game machine are simultaneously enhanced. Based on this finding, the inventors completed the present invention.
  • [0014]
    More specifically, the present invention has the following configuration so as to solve the aforementioned problems.
  • [0015]
    According to one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a hand-held game machine including a box which is rectangular when viewed from above, a built-in battery, a game control section driven by the power supplied from the battery, and a flat display, the game machine comprising:
  • [0016]
    the flat display arranged substantially in the center of the surface of the box;
  • [0017]
    a key entry switch provided on one side of the longitudinal center line of the flat display; and
  • [0018]
    a loop string, one end of which is connected to at least one corner of the box on the same side as that on which the key entry switch is provided, wherein the length of the string is set so that the player can place his fingers at the operating position of the key entry switch while the loop of the string is wrapped around at least the flat portion of his hand.
  • [0019]
    According to another aspect of the invention, there is provided a hand-held type game machine including a box which is rectangular when viewed from above, a built-in battery provided on one side with respect to the longitudinal direction of the box, a game control section provided in the box, a key entry switch provided on the surface of the box, and a flat display, wherein commands are keyed into the game control section through actuation of the key entry switch, and the flat display displays, in response to the key entry operations, game information prepared by the game control section, the game machine comprising:
  • [0020]
    center of gravity located on one side with respect to the longitudinal direction of the game machine due to the weight of the battery;
  • [0021]
    a flat display disposed on the other side on the surface of the box with respect to the longitudinal direction; and
  • [0022]
    a loop string, one end of which is fixed on the same side with respect to the longitudinal direction as that on which the flat display is provided, wherein the length of the string is set so that the player can place his fingers at the operating position of the key entry switch while the loop of the string is wrapped around at least the flat portion of his hand.
  • [0023]
    The description “a loop string, one end of which is fixed on the same side with respect to the longitudinal direction as that on which the flat display is provided” means that one end of the loop string is fixed at a position where, while the player suspends the game machine with the string wrapped around his hand, the flat display is oriented in an upward direction of the box without fail under the influence of gravity. Accordingly, the position at which one end of the loop string is fixed can be any positions; e.g., a position on the side surface or upper surface of the game machine, so long as the position is on the side opposite the side, with respect to the longitudinal direction, on which the battery is provided.
  • [0024]
    The term “flat display” includes any type of display, so long as the display is thin such as a liquid crystal display device, which will be described later. However, a CRT is not included in the concept of this term.
  • [0025]
    Further, the description “the length of the string is set so that the player can place his fingers (particularly, the thumbs) at the operating positions of the key entry switch while the loop of the string is wrapped around at least the flat portion of his hand” means that the loop string is required to have a length such that the fingers can reach the operating positions of the key entry switch while the loop is wrapped around at least the player's palm. As a matter of course, the length of the loop string may be increased further so that the player can play game while the loop is wrapped around the user's wrist. The important consideration is that the hand-held game machine can be prevented from being dropped.
  • [0026]
    The object of the present invention is to provide a profile hand-held game machine which can be made compact and can have a lower profile. The present invention realizes a compact and lower profile cartridge @by combination of a connector and a cartridge, which differ in structure from the conventional connector and cartridge.
  • [0027]
    More specifically, there is provided a cartridge to be used in combination with a connector having a projection section on which contact pins are aligned in a row,
  • [0028]
    the cartridge including
  • [0029]
    memory having a program stored therein,
  • [0030]
    a circuit board having wiring patterns formed thereon and having the memory provided on the wiring patterns, and
  • [0031]
    a case in which the circuit board is housed, wherein one end of the wiring patterns extends to one end of the circuit board; the case has at one end a hollow section enclosed with an upper wall portion, a lower wall portion, and left and right side wall portions; the hollow section receives the projection section of the connector; and one end of the wiring patterns is located in the hollow section,
  • [0032]
    wherein
  • [0033]
    the upper wall portion, the lower wall portion, and the left and right wall portions are integrally formed together.
  • [0034]
    The term “integrally formed” designates that an element is made of a single component and does not apply to an element consisting of a plurality of components.
  • [0035]
    Preferably, according to the present invention, there is provided a hand-held game machine which permits the player to play a game through use of the foregoing cartridge, the game machine comprising:
  • [0036]
    a connector removably and electrically connectable with the cartridge;
  • [0037]
    a semiconductor device which causes the game program of the cartridge to proceed;
  • [0038]
    a display section which communicates the progress of the game program to the player;
  • [0039]
    a controller by way of which the player performs entry operations; and
  • [0040]
    a circuit board electrically connected to the connector, the display section, and the controller, wherein the display section and the controller are disposed on the upper surface of the circuit board; the connector is disposed on the lower surface of the circuit board; and the connector has a projection section including contact pins which come into electrical contact with wiring patterns provided on the circuit board.
  • [0041]
    Preferably, the semiconductor device is provided on the lower surface of the circuit board so as to be opposite to the cartridge inserted into the connector, and a wall portion is disposed between the semiconductor device and the connector.
  • [0042]
    More specifically, the present invention provides a hand-held game machine comprising:
  • [0043]
    a box which is rectangular when viewed from above and includes
  • [0044]
    a battery,
  • [0045]
    a game control section activated by means of power supplied from the battery, and
  • [0046]
    a flat display;
  • [0047]
    a key entry switch disposed on the surface of the box; and
  • [0048]
    a string which is fixed on at least one corner of the box and has a loop, wherein
  • [0049]
    the length of the string is set so that the player's fingers (particularly his thumbs) can be placed at the operating position of the key entry section while the loop of the string is wrapped around his wrist.
  • [0050]
    Preferably, (a) the flat display is disposed in substantially the center of the surface of the box; (b) the key entry section is disposed on one side of the flat display on the surface of the box with respect to the longitudinal direction; and (c) one end of the loop string is fixed on at least one corner of the box on the side on which the key entry switch is disposed.
  • [0051]
    Preferably, on the side edge of the box above the upper side of the flat display and in the side edge of the box below the lower side of the same, there are provided, in such locations so as not to hinder the player from playing a game, a member, such as a connector, which permits connection with an external device; a cartridge insert port for receiving a cartridge having game software stored therein; and various movable switches or members which are not operated or cannot be actuated during the game.
  • [0052]
    Preferably, the hand-held game machine is a pocket-sized hand-held game machine.
  • [0053]
    Preferably, the battery is incorporated on one side of the rectangular box with respect to the longitudinal center of the box, and the flat display is provided on the surface on the other side of the box. Further, one end of the loop string is fixed on the same side as that on which the flat display is disposed.
  • [0054]
    Preferably, the hand-held game machine has a maximum thickness of 30 mm, a shorter side of 80 mm, and a longer side of 130 mm.
  • [0055]
    The present invention provides a hand-held game machine by which a player causes a game program to proceed through operations performed by way of a controller, the game machine including
  • [0056]
    a circuit board on which is mounted a semiconductor device for causing the game program to proceed,
  • [0057]
    a display section disposed on the upper surface of the circuit board, and
  • [0058]
    a case which houses the circuit board, the display section, and the controller, with an opening formed in the upper surface of the case, wherein p1 the controller at a base portion is in contact with the internal surface on the underside of the case, at an intermediate portion which passes through the opening formed in the circuit board, and comprises a shaft extending toward the opening of the case, a cross-shaped member extending radially from the shaft, and a mechanical switch provided on the cross-shaped member; and
  • [0059]
    when the shaft is tilted while the base portion of the shaft is used as a fulcrum, the shaft and the cross-shaped member press the mechanical switch.
  • [0060]
    Preferably, the peripheral edge of the opening formed in the upper surface of the case is tapered.
  • [0061]
    The present invention provides a game machine by which a player causes a game program to proceed through operations performed by way of a controller, the game machine including
  • [0062]
    a circuit board on which is mounted a semiconductor device for causing the game program to proceed,
  • [0063]
    a display section disposed on the upper surface of the circuit board, and
  • [0064]
    a case which houses the circuit board, the display section, and the controller, with an opening formed in the upper surface of the case, wherein
  • [0065]
    the controller at a base portion is in contact with the internal surface on the underneath of the case, at an intermediate portion passes through the opening formed in the circuit board, and comprises a shaft extending toward the opening of the case, a cross-shaped member radially extending from the shaft, and a mechanical switch provided on the cross-shaped member; and
  • [0066]
    when the shaft is tilted while the base portion of the shaft is used as a fulcrum, the shaft and the cross-shaped member press the mechanical switch.
  • [0067]
    The present invention provides a cartridge to be used in combination with a connector having a projection section on which contact pins are aligned in a row,
  • [0068]
    the cartridge including
  • [0069]
    memory having a program stored therein,
  • [0070]
    a circuit board having wiring patterns formed thereon and having
  • [0071]
    the memory provided on the wiring patterns, and
  • [0072]
    a case in which the circuit board is housed, wherein one end of the wiring patterns extend to one end of the circuit board; the case has at one end a hollow section enclosed with an upper wall portion, a lower wall portion, and left and right side wall portions; the hollow section receives the projection section of the connector; and one end of the wiring patterns is located within the hollow section,
  • [0073]
    wherein
  • [0074]
    the upper wall portion, the lower wall portion, and the left and right wall portions are integrally formed together.
  • [0075]
    The present invention provides a hand-held game machine which permits the player to play a game through use of the cartridge defined, the game machine comprising:
  • [0076]
    a connector removably and electrically connectable with the cartridge;
  • [0077]
    a semiconductor device which causes the game program of the cartridge to proceed;
  • [0078]
    a display section which communicates the progress of the game program to the player;
  • [0079]
    a controller by way of which the player performs entry operations; and
  • [0080]
    a circuit board electrically connected to the connector, the display section, and the controller, wherein the display section and the controller are disposed on the upper surface of the circuit board; the connector is disposed on the lower surface of the circuit board; and the connector has a projection section including contact pins which come into electrical contact with wiring patterns provided on the circuit board.
  • [0081]
    Preferably, the semiconductor device is provided on the lower surface of the circuit board so as to become opposite to the cartridge inserted into the connector, and a wall portion is disposed between the semiconductor device and the connector.
  • [0082]
    The present invention provides a hand-held game machine by which a player causes a game program to proceed through operations performed by way of a controller, the game machine including
  • [0083]
    a circuit board on which is mounted a semiconductor device for causing the game program to proceed,
  • [0084]
    a display section disposed on the upper surface of the circuit board, and
  • [0085]
    a case which houses the circuit board, the display section, and the controller, with an opening formed in the upper surface of the case, wherein
  • [0086]
    the case has an indentation in the center of the bottom surface, and the indentation has tapered portions where the player's fingers touch the bottom surface of the case when the player holds the case with both his hands while playing a game.
  • [0087]
    Preferably, (a) a string is fixed on at least one corner of the box and has a loop, and (b) the length of the string is set so that the player's fingers (particularly his thumbs) can be placed at the operating position of the key entry section while the loop of the string is wrapped around his wrist.
  • [0088]
    Preferably, one end of the loop string is fixed on at least one corner on the side on which the key entry switch is disposed.
  • [0089]
    Preferably, one end of the loop string is fixed on the same side as that on which the flat display is disposed.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0090]
    [0090]FIG. 1 is a front view showing a hand-held game machine according to a first embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0091]
    [0091]FIG. 2 is a rear view of the hand-held game machine shown in FIG. 1;
  • [0092]
    [0092]FIG. 3 is a right-side view of the hand-held game machine shown in FIG. 1;
  • [0093]
    [0093]FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the hand-held game machine taken along line X-X in FIG. 1;
  • [0094]
    [0094]FIG. 5 is a functional block diagram showing the configuration of the hand-held game machine according to the first embodiment;
  • [0095]
    [0095]FIG. 6 is a schematic representation showing the hand-held game machine when held with a loop string wrapped around the player's palm;
  • [0096]
    [0096]FIG. 7 is a plan view showing a modification of the hand-held game machine;
  • [0097]
    [0097]FIG. 8 is a side elevation view of the hand-held game machine when viewed in the direction depicted by the arrow shown in FIG. 7;
  • [0098]
    [0098]FIG. 9 is a rear view of the hand-held game machine shown in FIG. 7;
  • [0099]
    [0099]FIG. 10 is a right-side view of the hand-held game machine shown in FIG. 7;
  • [0100]
    [0100]FIG. 11A is a perspective view showing another modification of the hand-held game machine;
  • [0101]
    [0101]FIG. 11B is a perspective view showing a cartridge used in combination with the hand-held game machine shown in FIG. 11A;
  • [0102]
    [0102]FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view showing the structure of a key switch (controller) of the hand-held game machine;
  • [0103]
    [0103]FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional view of the key;
  • [0104]
    [0104]FIG. 14 is a plan view for describing the outline of a hand-held game machine according to a second embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0105]
    [0105]FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view of the hand-held game machine according to the second embodiment taken along line X-X shown in FIG. 14;
  • [0106]
    [0106]FIG. 16 is a fragmentary perspective view for describing the structure of the cartridge used in the second embodiment;
  • [0107]
    [0107]FIG. 17 is a plan view showing the cartridge according to the second embodiment;
  • [0108]
    [0108]FIG. 18 is a front view showing the cartridge according to the second embodiment;
  • [0109]
    [0109]FIG. 19 is a side view showing the cartridge according to the second embodiment;
  • [0110]
    [0110]FIG. 20 is a fragmentary plan view for describing a circuit board provided in the cartridge according to the second embodiment;
  • [0111]
    [0111]FIG. 21 is a top view showing the cartridge according to the second embodiment,
  • [0112]
    [0112]FIG. 22 is a front view showing the cartridge according to the second embodiment;
  • [0113]
    [0113]FIG. 23 is a side view showing the cartridge according to the second embodiment;
  • [0114]
    [0114]FIG. 24 is a schematic representation for describing the cartridge connected to the connector according to the second embodiment;
  • [0115]
    [0115]FIG. 25 is a fragmentary perspective view for describing a modification of the cartridge according to the second embodiment;
  • [0116]
    [0116]FIG. 26 is a functional block diagram showing the configuration of the cartridge and the hand-held game machine according to the second embodiment;
  • [0117]
    [0117]FIG. 27 is a perspective view for describing the structure of a conventional connector and cartridge; and
  • [0118]
    [0118]FIG. 28 is a schematic representation for describing the conventional cartridge connected to the connector.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS First Embodiment
  • [0119]
    [0119]FIGS. 1 through 5 show one example of a hand-held game machine according to a first embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 1 is a front view showing a hand-held game machine according to a first embodiment of the present invention; FIG. 2 is a rear view of the hand-held game machine shown in FIG. 1; FIG. 3 is a right-side view of the hand-held game machine shown in FIG. 1; FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the hand-held game machine taken along line X-X in FIG. 1; and FIG. 5 is a functional block diagram showing the configuration of the hand-held game machine according to the first embodiment.
  • [0120]
    In FIG. 1, reference numeral 1 designates a box that is rectangular when viewed from the top and that constitutes the main body of the hand-held game machine according to the first embodiment. In an interior 1A of the box 1 is provided a battery 10 on one side with respect to the longitudinal direction of the box 1, and a game control section 20 is housed in the box 1 (see FIG. 5).
  • [0121]
    On a surface 1B of the box 1 are provided a key entry switch 2 (2A and 2C) and a liquid crystal display screen 5. The player enters keys commands into the game control section 20 through actuation of the key entry switch 2. In response to the key entry operations, the game control section 20 prepares game information through use of an external storage device 30, such as a ROM cassette to be described later. The thus-prepared game information is displayed on a liquid crystal display screen 5 which serves as a flat display.
  • [0122]
    Further, as in the case with a conventional hand-held game machine, the game machine according to the present invention is also provided with the battery 10 so that the player can play a game outdoors where no external power supply is available. Compared with the liquid crystal display 5 and the game control section 20, the battery 10 accounts for a larger proportion of the weight of the game machine. In the present embodiment, the battery 10, which among the constituent elements of the game machine accounts for a great proportion of the weight of the hand-held game machine, is provided on one side of the box 1 with respect to the longitudinal direction of the box 1. The game machine is configured in such a way that, as a result of presence of the battery 10 on one side of the game machine, the center of gravity is located on the side of the game machine where the battery 10 is stored, with respect to the longitudinal direction of the game machine.
  • [0123]
    The liquid crystal display screen 5 is provided on the other side of the box 1 with respect to the longitudinal direction of the box 1, on the side of the box 1 housing the battery 10. The game information is displayed in such an orientation that the player can play a game while viewing the display screen 5 and while holding the game machine so as to orient the portion of the box 1 housing the battery 10 in a downward direction.
  • [0124]
    Further, a string lock section 1 c is formed on the same side with respect to the longitudinal direction of the box 1 as that on which the liquid crystal display screen 5 is disposed. An engagement section 50B of a string 50 having a loop 50A is fixed to the string lock section 1 c, whereby the string 50 is fixed to the box 1. Although in the present embodiment the string lock section 1 c is provided on the left side of the game machine 1 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the string lock section 1 c may be formed on the right side of the game machine, as indicated by a chain line. The present invention can be applied to both a game machine having the string lock section provided on the left side thereof and a game machine having the string lock section provided on the right side thereof.
  • [0125]
    Further, the length of the string 50 is set so that the player's fingers can be placed at the operating position of the key entry section 2 while the loop 50A of the string 50 is wrapped around his wrist. More specifically, in order to enable the hand-held game machine to be usable for a wide range of players from adults to children, the length of the loop 50A should desirably be set to a length of about 20 to 50 cm. By means of the string 50, the player's fingers can be placed at the operating position of the key entry section 2 while the loop 50A of the string 50 is wrapped around this wrist. FIG. 6 shows the state in which the player's fingers are placed at the operating position of the key entry section 2 while the loop 50A of the string 50 is wrapped around his wrist. As shown in FIG. 6, so long as the player plays a game while his hand is inserted into the loop 50A, even if he bumps into an obstacle the player can prevent dropping of the game machine, hereby preventing damage to the game machine.
  • [0126]
    There are adopted the box 1 having a maximum thickness of 23 mm, a shorter side of 70 mm, and a longer side of 112 mm, as well as the liquid crystal display screen 5 that serves as a flat display and measures 46.5 mm×42 mm. Thus, the hand-held game machine according to the first embodiment is designed so as to be compact and light-weight such that the player can play the game while holding the game machine. The hand-held game machine according to the present invention does not require an external power source, which would be required by a conventional commercial game machine or a game machine for home use (hereinafter called as a “home game machine”); has a built-in drive power supply; is compact and light-weight; and is designed so that the player can play a game while gripping the game body with both hands. Further, the expression “pocket-sized hand-held game machine” used in the present invention designates a game machine which is compact enough to be put into a pocket of ordinary clothing and does not feel heavy to the player. More specifically, the pocket game machine designates a game machine having a maximum thickness of less than 30 mm, a shorter side of 80 mm or less, and a longer side of 130 mm or less. In principle, the pocket-sized hand-held game machine described in the present embodiment belongs to the pocket-sized portable game machine defined above.
  • [0127]
    Considerable thought has been put into designing the compact hand-held game machine of the present embodiment. As one of the design concepts, attention is given to the location of a switch 2A of the key entry switch 2. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the area of the surface 1B of the box 1 at which the switch 2A is provided protrudes from the other area of the surface 1B. Such a protuberance enables the player to actuate the switch 2A by means of exerting pressure in a thicknesswise direction of the box 1. More specifically, when the area in the vicinity of the outer periphery of the circular key-button-shaped switch 2A is pushed in the thicknesswise direction of the switch 2A, the switch 2A is tilted with the center thereof acts as a fulcrum, thereby carrying out a switching operation. The switch 2A is not limited to this type of switch which performs switching operations upon being pressed; the switch 2A may be implemented in the form of a circular key-button switch which is slid to and fro and from side to side within a plane. When the switch is slid, the circular key-button-shaped switch slides over an nonillustrated spherical slide surface. As a result, the switch 2A can be switched by means of exerting in the thicknesswise direction in the manner as mentioned above. Compared with a switch which is pressed in the thicknesswise direction, the slide switch of this type contributes to a reduction in the dimensions of the game machine. The smaller the switch, the more apt the player is to be aware of actuation of the switch.
  • [0128]
    Each of the switches 2C of the key entry switch 2 is of a push button type. In the case of a shooting game, these switches 2 c are used as triggers. In the case of a driving game, these buttons act as an accelerator button and a brake button.
  • [0129]
    Both of these switches 2A and 2C are arranged in position, at which the player can actuate the switches 2A and 2C with the thumbs while holding the hand-held game machine with both hands. More specifically, in terms of operability, individual switches are desirably arranged in the vicinity of the path of movement of the thumb along which the thumbs are moved while the player holds the hand-held game machine with both his hands, so as to be able to see the liquid crystal display screen 5.
  • [0130]
    Three horizontal, elongated holes 17 are formed in a side-by-side configuration in the area below the press buttons 2C so as to make it easy for the player to hear sound from a sound reproduction unit 22.
  • [0131]
    In the first embodiment, an actuation switch 21 which is electrically connected to the switching circuit 23 is provided on the side surface of the box 1. This actuation switch 21 is of a side-to-side slide type and is to be actuated by the player. Beside the actuation switch 21 are provided a rotary volume control 18 for changing the contrast of the liquid crystal display screen 5 and a rotary volume control 19 for changing the quantity of sound reproduced from the sound reproduction unit 22. These volume controls 18 and 19 can be adjusted by the player. Although in the first embodiment the actuation switches are of a slide type, the present invention is not limited to this type of switch; various types of switches, such as a press button, can also be used.
  • [0132]
    A nonillustrated press button power switch is provided on the other side surface of the box 1.
  • [0133]
    In addition, an insert port ID is formed in the side edge of the box 1 for receiving the cartridge 30.
  • [0134]
    Although not shown in the drawings, on the other side edge of the box 1 are provided a power connector for receiving power from an external power supply other than the battery 10, and an earphone connector which permits only the player to hear the sound from the sound reproduction unit 22.
  • [0135]
    Further, an nonillustrated circuit board is housed in the case body 2. As can be seen from the block diagram shown in FIG. 5, which will be described later, various functions, including the switching circuit 23, are mounted at predetermined positions on the circuit board. A connector (not shown) for establishing electrical connection with a cartridge 30 is attached to the lower surface of the circuit board at a position where it is brought into communication with the insert slot ID.
  • [0136]
    A nonillustrated circuit board having ROM mounted thereon is housed into the case of the cartridge 30. The case comprises an upper case and a lower case, which are fastened together with screws. In one side edge of the case there is formed an opening section, and wiring patterns (i.e., external connection terminals) of the circuit board are exposed in the opening section. When being fitted into the insert port 1D, the individual terminals and the wiring patterns of the circuit board are electrically connected. The cartridge 1 is removable relative to the connector.
  • [0137]
    By reference to the control block diagram shown in FIG. 5, the functions of the individual circuits will now be described.
  • [0138]
    In the box 1 there are primarily disposed the game control section 20, the liquid crystal screen 5, the key entry switch 2, the actuation switch 21, and the sound reproduction unit 22.
  • [0139]
    Reference numeral 30 designates an external storage device and is usually constituted of a cassette. The cassette corresponds to a single piece of ROM or a plurality of pieces of ROM, each ROM comprising a plastic case made of ABS or the like, and having a game program, videe data, or sound data stored therein.
  • [0140]
    When being inserted into the box 1, the external storage device 30 is electrically connected to the game control section 20, thus enabling a CPU 20A of the game control section 20 to capture data from the external storage device 30, as necessary.
  • [0141]
    The game program used in the game machine allows the player to nurture an animated character by performing key entry operations according to the progress of the game program.
  • [0142]
    The game control section 20 comprises the CPU 20A, such as a microprocessor, and RAM 20B serves as a work area for the CPU 20A.
  • [0143]
    The sound reproduction unit 22 is connected to the game control section 20 by way of the sound reproduction circuit 22A and the switching circuit 23.
  • [0144]
    The liquid crystal display screen 5 is connected to the game control section 20 by way of the liquid crystal display circuit 5A and the switching circuit 23.
  • [0145]
    When the player performs key entry operations by way of the key entry switch 2 during the course of the game proceeding according to the game program stored in the ROM 30, the game control section 20 extracts from the ROM 30 a video data set relevant to the input operations and transmits the video data set to the liquid crystal display screen 5, where the video data set is than displayed. Further, the game control section 20 transmits to the sound reproduction unit 22 a relevant sound data set from among a plurality of sound data sets stored in the ROM 30 and causes the sound reproduction unit 22 to reproduce sound.
  • [0146]
    The previously-described battery 10 is used as a power supply for driving the liquid crystal display screen 5, the sound reproduction unit 22, and the game control section 20. However, in a case where the hand-held game machine is used with the previously-described game in which the player nurtures an animated character, the game machine is desirable to be provided with an additional backup battery so as to prevent data deletion.
  • [0147]
    The switching circuit 23 capable of changing electrical conductivity is provided between the CPU 20A, and the liquid crystal display screen 5 and the sound reproduction unit 22. The switching circuit 23 automatically switches electrical conductivity according to the progress of the game program. The switching circuit 23 is connected to the actuation switch 21 so that the player can instruct electrical conductivity. After elapse of a predetermined period of time during which the player performs no key entry operations, the game control section 20 automatically activates the switching circuit 23 to shut off power from the battery 10 to the liquid crystal display screen 5 and the sound reproduction unit 22. When the game program demands “feeding” during the course of the nurturing game, the game control section 20 automatically activates the switching circuit 23 to resume application of power from the battery 10 to the liquid crystal display screen 5 and the sound reproduction unit 22, thereby displaying the character and reproducing sound. Application and shutting off of power are carried out by setting a timer in the game program that governs when the power is applied or shut off. More specifically, for example, power is shut off after elapse of one minute from when the player stops performing key entry operations.
  • [0148]
    As mentioned above, according to the first embodiment, the operating time of the display drive circuit 5A and the sound reproduction circuit 22, which require a large amount of power from the battery, can be significantly reduced. Hence, a game can be played continuously over a long period of time. A game machine recently tends to provide a realistic, real-time image and various sounds to the player during the course of progress of the game program. In this case, however, the image data and the sound data become considerably large in volume. The portable game machine according to the present invention is designed so as not to continuously place a heavy load on batteries, thereby preventing depletion of power of batteries during the course of progress of the game.
  • [0149]
    Further, even when the load is removed from the batteries during the progress of the game program, the portable game machine according to the first embodiment permits the player to forcefully reapply a load on the batteries through manual actuation of the actuation switch 21. Upon receipt of an operation signal from the actuation switch 21, the CPU 20A causes the switching circuit 23 to operate automatically. Accordingly, the player can check the nurturing conditions of the character whenever he desires, whereby the player feels as if he were actually nurturing the character by himself. After the player has actuated the actuation switch 21 and has checked the nurturing conditions of the character, the power is again shut off according to the progress of the game program, including the timer settings. So long as the contents regarding the influence of the player activating the actuation switch 21 on the nurturing conditions of the character are stored in the game program in advance, the degree of difficulty in nurturing the character is increased.
  • [0150]
    Although not described in the present embodiment, the portable game machine may be provided with means for notifying the player of the game being in progress, in order to prevent the player from misunderstanding the game as having finished when power to the liquid crystal unit and/or the sound reproduction unit is shut off and to prevent the player from erroneously terminating the game by turning off the power. Such means may be implemented by providing the game body of the game machine with a light-emitting device, e.g., an LED, and by normally illuminating the light-emitting device.
  • [0151]
    Although in the present embodiment power to both the liquid crystal display screen 5 and the sound reproduction unit 22 is automatically applied or shut off, the present invention is not limited to this configuration; power to either one of the liquid crystal display screen 5 and the sound reproduction unit 22 may be automatically applied or shut off. Even in such a case, there is yielded an advantageous result identical to that yielded by the present invention.
  • [0152]
    There is no need to constantly and simultaneously apply power to or shut off power to the liquid crystal display screen 5 and the sound reproduction unit 22; the power may be applied or shut off according to the contents of the game program.
  • [0153]
    In addition, although in the present embodiment power to the liquid crystal display screen 5 and the sound reproduction unit 22 is automatically applied or shut off through use of the switching circuit 23, the present invention is not limited to such a configuration; there may be employed a circuit configuration which automatically applies or shuts off power to the liquid crystal display screen 5 and the sound reproduction unit 22 according to the progress of the game program (without use of the switching circuit).
  • [0154]
    Although in the present embodiment the player turns on the power of the game machine by manual actuation of the actuation switch after the power of the game machine has been automatically turned off according to the progress of the game program, the present invention is not limited to such a configuration. For example, the player can intentionally turn off the power of the game machine by manual actuation of the actuation switch 21. As mentioned above, so long as the contents regarding the influence of the player activating the actuation switch on the nurturing conditions of the character are stored in the game program in advance, thereby imparting an element of a game to the actuation of the actuation switch 21.
  • [0155]
    In the present embodiment, the power is automatically turned on or off. However, provided that the power is turned only on or off, the player's manual actuation of the actuation switch becomes a constituent element. Even in this case, depending on the contents of the game program, there will be yielded the same advantageous result as that yielded by the present invention. In the case of such a configuration, the player nurtures the character not in a character-based manner but in a player-dominated manner.
  • [0156]
    A modification of the foregoing hand-held game machine will now be described by reference to FIGS. 7 through 10. In FIGS. 7 through 10, elements having the same functions as those of the elements used in the foregoing hand-held game machine are assigned identical reference numerals, and repetition of their explanations will be omitted here.
  • [0157]
    The modification is directed to a hand-held game machine comprising the box 1, the built-in battery 10, the game control section driven by the power supplied from the battery 10, and the flat display 5. The flat display 5 is provided in substantially the center of the surface 1B of the box 1. On the surface 1B to either side of the flat display 5 in the longitudinal direction of the box 1, the key entry switch 2 (2A and 2B) is provided on one side with respect to the longitudinal center line C of the flat display 5.
  • [0158]
    Of the four corners (1E, 1E, 1E, 1E) of the box 1, a hole 1C is formed in the right-side corner 1E of the two corners 1E provided on the same side with respect to the center line C as that on which the key entry switch 2 is provided. As shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, one end 50B of the loop string 50 having the loop 50A is fixedly inserted into the hole 1C. As mentioned above, the loop string 50 is fixed on the corner 1E on the same side as that on which the key entry switch 2 is provided, and the loop 50A of the string 50 is wrapped around the player's right hand, so that the player grips the front surface 1B and a reverse surface 1F of the flat display 5, which serves as a display screen, with both hands. As a result, the hole 1C on which the loop string 50 is fixed does not hinder the player from playing a game. Such a way of the player holding the game machine also applies to the hand-held game machines shown in FIGS. 2 and 3.
  • [0159]
    Although the loop string 50 may be fixed in any position on the box 1, fixing the loop string on the corner of the box 1 drastically improves, the stability and operability of, particularly, a “pocket-sized hand-held game machine,” at the time of playing a game. Such a finding constitutes a breakthrough. The significance of imparting a “pocket-sized hand-held game machine” with the loop string 50 having the loop 50A to be wrapped around the wrist resides in fixing the loop string 50 on the corner of the game machine.
  • [0160]
    In addition, the modification of the game machine is configured such that the player can hold the game machine while his fingers fit into a recess 1F1. Particularly, in the case of a “pocket-sized hand-held game machine” pertaining to compact game machines, there can be achieved not only a superior sense of fit, but also prevention of erroneous dropping of the game machine can be achieved. In this respect, breakage of the game machine, which would otherwise be caused by the player dropping the game machine, can be prevented by means of the string 50. If the game machine slips out of the player's hands, the game that is in progress will be temporarily suspended, thereby resulting in a considerably annoying situation for the player. The mere presence of the recess 1F1 contributes to a considerable improvement in the sense of proper fit and prevents the the game machine from slipping out of the players hands. Consequently, the foregoing accident can be prevented.
  • [0161]
    As in the case with the previously-described hand-held game machine, the length of the loop string 50 is set so that the player can place his fingers at the operating position of the key entry switch 2 (2A and 2B) while the loop 50A of the loop string 50 is wrapped around at least the flat portion of his hand.
  • [0162]
    In the drawing, reference numeral 2D depicts a power switch; and 2E depicts a pause switch. The power switch 2D is actuated by the player in order to start up power of the hand-held game machine, and the switch 2E is intended to suspend the game that is in progress while the player is playing the game with the hand-held game machine.
  • [0163]
    In FIGS. 8 and 10, reference numeral 31 designates an earphone jack; and 32 designates a power supply jack for receiving power from the outside of the game machine. As mentioned above, when the player holds the game machine with his hands, wires connected to these jacks can be led to the outside of the game machine through the space between his hands. Accordingly, even when the wires are connected to the earphone jack 31 and the power supply jack 32, the game machine has an advantage of enabling the player to play the game without having a sense of incongruity.
  • [0164]
    As mentioned above, in the hand-held game machine according to the present invention, inadvertent dropping of the game machine is prevented by means of the loop string provided at the corner of the game machine, and in addition the earphone jack 31 and the power supply jack 32 are on the side edge of the box 1 above the upper side of the flat display 5 and on the side edge of the box 1 below the lower side of the same so as not to hinder the player from playing a game while holding the box 1. More specifically, various members, such as an earphone connector or other connectors, used for establishing connection with external devices are provided on the side edge of the box 1 above the upper side of the flat display 5 and on the side edge of the box 1 below the lower side of the same so as not to hinder the player from playing a game while holding the box 1. Similarly, the insert port Id for receiving the cartridge 30 having game software stored in the memory thereof and the volume controls 18 and 19 are provided in the side edges of the box 1. In other words, according to the present invention, various members, such as an earphone connector or other connectors, used for establishing connection with external devices; the insert port for receiving the cartridge having game software stored in the memory thereof; the volume controls; and various movable switches or various members which are not or cannot be actuated during a game are provided exclusively on the side edge of the box 1 above the upper side of the flat display 5 and on the side edge of the box 1 below the lower side of the same, so as not to hinder the player from playing a game.
  • [0165]
    With such a configuration, there can be provided a hand-held game machine which permits addition of various features and still remains compact. Here, the hand-held game machine that permits addition of various features corresponds not to a mere compact hand-held game machine but a game machine which enables the player to play a battle game with another player's game machine or to play a game through use of external power supply. According to the present invention, the player can enjoy the aforementioned advantages and can prevent connect cables from hindering the game.
  • [0166]
    Since a game machine is made compact, the player of the game machine has a chance of encountering accidents, such as an erroneous increase in the volume of sound during the course of playing a game in, e.g., a car, which would in turn cause inconvenience to others. The present invention prevents other accidents, such as the player erroneously touching a contrast volume control during the course of playing the game, thereby rendering invisible displayed character on the flat display.
  • [0167]
    All things considered, the present invention has achieved miniaturization of a game machine itself, fixing of the string at a dead space where no members can be provided, and positional layouts related to a cartridge insert port, an earphone connector, volume controls, members for connecting movable switches, such as volume controls, to the outside; and positional layouts related to various members which cannot be actuated during playing of a game.
  • [0168]
    [0168]FIG. 11 is a perspective view showing still another modification of the first embodiment. This modification is identical in configuration to the previous modification, except for changing of the elongated holes 17 to circular holes 17A.
  • [0169]
    According to the present invention having the foregoing configuration, the loop string of the hand-held game machine is set so that the player can place his fingers at the operating position of the key entry switch while the loop of the loop string is wrapped around at least the flat portion of his hand. As a result, the present invention prevents the chance of the player bumping into another person and dropping the game machine during the game. In many cases, the player plays a game through use of such a hand-held game machine while outdoors. Particularly, in a case where the player plays a game while walking, he runs a risk of bumping into another person. However, as in the case with a hand-held game machine according to the present invention, in the event of encountering physical shock such as collision, the player can, by means of the loop string, avoid dropping and breaking the game machine, which is a precision machine, so long as the player plays a game while holding the shorter sides of the box with his hands and wrapping a loop of the loop string around the palm of the hand.
  • [0170]
    Further, the present invention employs the following layout: namely, the flat display is provided in substantially the center of the surface of the box; on the surface to either side of the flat display in the longitudinal direction of the box, the key entry switch is provided on one side with respect to the longitudinal center line of the flat display; and, of the four corners of the box, one end of the loop string having a loop is fixed on at least one of the corners on the same side as that on which the key entry switch is provided. Therefore, even when the player plays a gam while holding the game machine with his hands, the fixed root of the loop string does not hinder the player from playing the game and enables the player to enjoy the game.
  • [0171]
    Further, a battery is provided on one side of the box with respect to the longitudinal direction, and a loop string is connected to the opposite side of the box. The present invention yields an advantage of improving the stability of the hand-held game machine when, for example, the player walks while holding the game machine. Further, during the game the flat display is oriented in the same direction in which the player suspends the game machine with the string wrapped around his hand. Accordingly, the player does not have to take the trouble to invert the orientation of the game machine, which is suspended while the loop of the string is wrapped around the flat portion of his hand, nor does the player have to switch the game machine from one hand to the other. The game machine is always maintained in a play mode position.
  • [0172]
    A structure suitable for the key switch (controller) according to the present invention (i.e., the key switch 2A shown in FIG. 11) will now be described.
  • [0173]
    [0173]FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view for describing the structure of the structure of the key switch 2A shown in FIG. 11, and FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional view of the key switch taken along line Y-Y shown in FIG. 12.
  • [0174]
    The controller 2A comprises a key top portion 42 a 1, a transmission portion 42 a 2, four mechanical switch portions 42 a 3 (see FIG. 13), and a cover portion 42 a 4. The key top portion 42 a 1 is positioned in such a way that the upper surface of the key top portion 42 a 1 protrudes slightly outside a substantially circular recess 41 a formed in a case body 1B. The transmission portion 42 a 2 comprises a rod portion 42 a 212, a cross-shaped member 42 a 22 which extends radially from the shaft and is cross-shaped when viewed from the bottom, and a fulcrum portion 42 a 23. The upper end of the rod portion 42 a 21 is mechanically connected to the key top portion 42 a 1. The individual tip ends of the cross-shaped portion 42 a 22 correspond to the respective movable points of the mechanical switch 42 a 3. The bottom surface of the fulcrum portion 42 a 23 is in contact with the interior bottom surface of a cover portion 42 a 4. A mechanical switch portion 42 a 3 is mounted on the reverse surface of the circuit board 40. The cover portion 42 a 4 is mechanically connected to the reverse surface of the circuit board 40 so as cover the mechanical switch portion 42 a 3 and support the fulcrum portion 42 a 23 of the rod portion 42 a 21.
  • [0175]
    The key top portion 42 a 1 has a tapered portion 44 a, and the upper periphery of a recess 41 a of the case body 1B also has a tapered portion 44 b.
  • [0176]
    With such a structure, when the game player actuates the key top portion 42 a 1 in the direction depicted by the arrow, the transmission portion 42 a 2 is tilted about the contact portion of the fulcrum portion 42 a 23. In association with the tilting action of the transmission portion 42 a 2, one of the tip ends of the cross-shaped portion 42 a 22 presses a movable point of the mechanical switch 42 a 3. Resultant contact arising between the tip end of the cross-shaped portion 42 a 22 and the movable point of the mechanical switch 42 a 3 causes strong tactile response. Accordingly, as a result of adoption of such a structure, the player can feels strong tactile response when actuating the controller.
  • [0177]
    In addition, with such a structure, the reverse surface of the area of the fulcrum portion 42 a 23 of the transmission section 42 a 2 opposite to the area of the fulcrum portion 42 a 23 that presses the movable point of the mechanical switch portion 42 a 3 comes into contact with an interior surface 42 a 5 of the cover portion 42 a 4, thus limiting the movement of the rod portion 42 a 21. Accordingly, the player is prevented from applying greater than required to the movable point of the mechanical switch portion 42 a 3. Therefore, the foregoing structure is particularly effective for the controller.
  • [0178]
    The mechanical switch 42 a 3 is housed into the reverse side of the circuit board 40, and hence the game machine itself can be made compact. A recent game machine has been made so compact, and the player tends to desire a portable game machine that is sufficiently compact and lower-profile to enter a pocket. In view of such a tendency, the foregoing structure is very preferable.
  • [0179]
    Further, the controller has two tapered portions; namely, the tapered portions 44 a and 44 b. Even when the key top portion 42 a 1 is tilted, the finger resting on the key top portion 42 a 1 is prevented from being nipped in a space between the key top portion 42 a 1 and the upper edge of the recess 41 a of the case body 1B, thereby eliminating discomfort and ensuring safe playing of a game.
  • [0180]
    Therefore, according to the present invention, when actuating the key switch (controller), the player feels strong tactile response. Compared with another type of key switch capable of providing similar tactile response, the key switch according to the present invention requires fewer components. Consequently, the required dimension of the key switch (controller) can be reduced, thereby reducing the overall dimensions of the hand-held game machine by the amount corresponding to the dimension of the key switch. Further, the movement of the shaft portion of the key switch is limited through movement of a built-in mechanical switch and by the structure of the base of the shaft. As a result, the built-in mechanical switch can be made insusceptible to excessive force. The key switch is in contact with the interior surface of the case body and is provided on the lower surface of the circuit board. The reverse surface of the area of the fulcrum portion 42 a 23 of the transmission section 42 a 2 opposite the area of the fulcrum portion 42 a 23 that presses the movable point of the mechanical switch portion 42 a 3 comes into contact with an interior surface 42 a 5 of the cover portion 42 a 4, thus limiting the movement of the rod portion 42 a 21. Accordingly, the player is prevented from applying greater than required force to the movable point of the mechanical switch portion 42 a 3.
  • [0181]
    Further, in terms of ease of handling of a game machine during a game and ease of transportation of the game machine, a recent game machine has been made compact. In view of such a tendency, in cooperation with the indentation 1F1 (see FIGS. 9 and 11) which provides superior sense of proper fit to the compact hand-held game machine, the present invention improves the ease of handling of the pocket-sized hand-held game machine. Although the key switch produces a great advantage when used with a pocket-sized hand-held game machine, the structure of the key switch itself can also be applied to a game machine for home use.
  • Second Embodiment
  • [0182]
    A hand-held game machine according to a second embodiment of the present invention will now be described by reference to the accompanying drawings. However, the present invention is not limited to this embodiment.
  • [0183]
    [0183]FIG. 14 is a plan view showing a hand-held game machine used in the second embodiment.
  • [0184]
    On the surface of the hand-held game machine, there are provided a liquid crystal display screen 101 (display section) for displaying the contents of a game to the player, controllers 102 by way of which the player performs entry operations, and a sound activation section 103 having a built-in speaker (not shown) for producing sound according to the progress of the game program.
  • [0185]
    The liquid crystal display screen 101 is formed so as to be situated in substantially the center in the longitudinal direction and in a slightly upper position with respect to the lateral direction of the game machine.
  • [0186]
    The controllers 102 are provided across the liquid crystal display screen 101. A key 102 a having four pressing points arranged in the shape of a diamond is provided on the left side of the liquid crystal display screen 101, and two press buttons 102 b are arranged in a tilt pattern on the right side of the liquid crystal display screen 101.
  • [0187]
    A power switch 104 for turning power on or off is provided in an upper position with respect to the key 102 a in the lateral direction.
  • [0188]
    The controllers 102 and the power switch 104 are arranged so as to be situated in upper positions in the lateral direction with respect to the longitudinal center line (depicted by a two-dot chain line in FIG. 14). Such an arrangement make it easy for the-player to actuate the controllers 102 while holding the game machine with his hands. More specifically, the player holds the reverse surface of the game machine with the little finger, the ring finger, the middle finger, and the forefinger of each hand while the flat portion of each hand is pressed against the lower angular portion of the game machine. In this state, the thick of the thumb is located in the vicinity of the corresponding controller 102, thereby making it easy for the player to actuate the controllers 102.
  • [0189]
    Two cylindrical batteries 105 for activating the game machine are provided behind the two press buttons 102 b. Further, a built-in communications connector 106 which can be connected to a communications unit or a communication cable and which enables the player to fight battle with another player by way of the unit or cable is provided in an upper position with respect to the key 102 a in the lateral direction of the game machine. Moreover, a built-in external power supply connector 107 is provided in a lower position with respect to the liquid crystal display screen 101 in the lateral direction. A built-in headphone connector 108 is disposed on the left side of the external power supply connector 107.
  • [0190]
    [0190]FIG. 15 is a side view for describing the cross-sectional structure of the hand-held game machine.
  • [0191]
    Reference numeral 109 designates a case body which comprises an upper case 109 a and a lower case 109 b. A hollow space is formed between the upper and lower cases 109 a and 109 b, and the previously-described components are disposed within the case body 109. Further, there is formed in the lower case 109 b an insert port 110 which permits insertion and removal of a cartridge 120.
  • [0192]
    As shown in FIG. 16, the cartridge 120 comprises a case body 121 and a circuit board 122 housed in the case body 121. The case body 121 further comprises an upper case 121 a and a lower case 121 b. Memory 123, such as ROM, having a game program stored therein is mounted on the circuit board 122. Two window portions 121 b 1 (hollow portions) are formed along one side edge of the lower case 121 b so as to permit insertion and removal of the connector 111. Each of the window portions 121 b 1 is integrally constituted of an upper wall portion 121 b 3, a lower wall portion 121 b 4, and side wall portions 121 b 5.
  • [0193]
    The cartridge 120 is assembled by fitting the upper case 121 a on the lower case 121 b. As can be seen from a plan view shown in FIG. 17, the cartridge 120 assumes a substantially rectangular shape when viewed from above. The cartridge 120 has a vertical dimension of about 45 mm and a horizontal dimension of about 54 mm.
  • [0194]
    As can be seen from the end view shown in FIG. 18, as mentioned previously, the two window portions 121 b 1 are formed to either side of a columnar portion 121 b 2 in the lower area 121 b of the cartridge 120. The window portion 121 b 1 has height A and is formed within a considerably small tolerance dimension (e.g., a tolerance range which is within 0.15 mm) at the time of formation of the lower case 120 b. According to the second embodiment, the height A assumes a value of about 3.5 mm. As in the case with height A, a width C of the window portion 121 b 2 is formed within a considerably small tolerance dimension (e.g., a tolerance range which is within 0.15 mm). In the second embodiment, width C assumes a value of about 50 mm.
  • [0195]
    The circuit board 122 is placed in a hatched area in FIG. 18 and is housed in the lower case 122 so as to substantially completely eliminate a clearance between the internal surface of the lower case 121 b and the circuit board 122. However, the present invention is not limited to such a configuration. For instance, slits are formed on the internal surfaces of the lower case 121 b for receiving the circuit board 122, to thereby prevent exposure of the side edge of the circuit board 122. As a result, in the event of the player roughly handling the cartridge 122 (for example, the cartridge is bumped against a hard substance), the side edge of the circuit board 122 will be prevented from being damaged.
  • [0196]
    [0196]FIG. 19 is a side view showing the cartridge 120. The cartridge 120 is thin; namely, thickness B of the cartridge 120 assumes a value of about 8 mm.
  • [0197]
    The circuit board 122 will now be described with reference to FIG. 20. As mentioned previously, predetermined wiring patterns are formed on the surface of the circuit board 122. The memory 123 (omitted form FIG. 20), such as ROM, is mounted on the wiring patterns. The wiring patterns comprise a plurality of wires (36 wires in the second embodiment) extending toward one side edge of the circuit board 122. The plurality of wiring patterns extending toward the side edge of the circuit board (hereinafter called the “external connection terminals 122 a”) are to be brought into contact with contact pins of the connector 111, which will be described later.
  • [0198]
    In the circuit board 122, a notch 122 b is formed in the same side edge as that along which the external connection terminals 122 a are formed. The circuit board 122 is fitted on the lower case 121 b in such a way that the notch 122 b engages with the columnar portion 121 b 2 of the lower case 121 b. One edge of the wiring patterns of the circuit board 122 is present in the hollow space.
  • [0199]
    A through hole 122 c having a diameter of about 6.5 mm is formed on the right side of the notch 122 b. The upper case 121 a and the lower case 121 b are fixed together by insertion of a nonillustrated screw into the through hole 122 c.
  • [0200]
    Next, the connector 111 will now be described. As can be seen from the top view shown in FIG. 21, the connector 111 has three legs 111 a for stably mounting the connector 111 on the circuit board within the game machine. Two of the legs 111 a project from both sides of the connector 111 in a rearward direction, and one of the legs 111 a projects from the center of the connector 111 in a rearward direction. Further, the connector 111 has two projections 111 b, which project from either side of the connector 111 in a forward direction. Each of the projections 111 b is tapered down and smoothly guided into the window portion 121 b of the cartridge 120.
  • [0201]
    As shown in FIGS. 22 and 23, contact pins 111 c are aligned in a row along each of the projections 111 b and correspond to the respective external connection terminals 122 a of the circuit board 122 of the cartridge 120. Each projection 111 b is tapered toward its front end and is smoothly inserted into the window portion 121 b 1 of the cartridge 120. Although not shown in these drawings, each of the legs 111 a project in the direction opposite that in which the projections 111 b project; namely, in a rearward direction. Each of the legs 111 a disposed on opposite sides of the connector 111 is provided with hooks 111 e for locking the connector 111 on the substrate 114. The substrate 114 is electrically connected to the connector 111, the liquid crystal display screen 101, and the controller 102. The liquid crystal display screen 101 and the controller 102 are disposed on the upper surface of the substrate 114, and the connector 111 is mounted on the circuit board 122.
  • [0202]
    The connector 111 is formed by a housing 111 f, which is made of hard resin such as PBT (Poly Butyl Terephthalate), comprising the contact pins 111 c. A plurality of rectangular hollows 111 g shown in FIG. 22 are formed in the connector 111 in order to prevent deformation of the housing 111 f The connector 111 can be formed through use of hard engineering plastic having a high degree of dimensional accuracy.
  • [0203]
    [0203]FIG. 24 is a schematic representation for describing insertion of the cartridge 120 into the connector 111. The cartridge 120 is fitted into the connector 111 in the direction depicted by the arrow shown in FIG. 24 while being supported by the metal plate 112. At this time, the projections 111 b of the connector 111 fit into the inside of the window portions 121 b 1 of the lower case 121 b, thereby bringing the contact pins 111 c into contact with the external contact terminals 122 a. Since the contact pins 111 c are retained so as to be elastically deformed, the contact pins 111 c are elastically deformed and brought into pressing contact with the respective external contact terminals 122 a when the contact pins 111 c come into contact with the external contact terminals 122 a. As a result, the contact pins 111 c and the external contact terminals 122 a are brought into stable contact. Further, in the second embodiment, since the tolerance of height A of the window portion 121 b 1 of the cartridge 120 is very small, a clearance is very unlikely to arise between the surface of any of the projections 111 b and the internal wall of each of the widow portions 121 b 1, when the projections 111 b of the connector 111 fit into the window portions 121 b 1. As a result, the contact pins 111 c and the external contact terminals 122 a can be brought into more stable contact. As mentioned above, the cartridge 120 can be removably and electrically connected to the connector 111.
  • [0204]
    Further, according to the second embodiment, the portions (i.e., the window portions 121 b 1) of the cartridge 120—which receive the projections 111 b of the connector 111—are integrally formed, and the columnar portion 121 b 2 is also integrally formed with the cartridge 120. Accordingly, the cartridge 120 is less susceptible to warpage in the heightwise direction. Consequently, the contact pins 111 c and the external contact terminals 122 a can be brought into more stable contact.
  • [0205]
    Since the cartridge 120 has the foregoing structure, only the projections 111 b are required to be formed on the connector 111, and there is no need to provide the connector 111 with a retaining wall for supporting the lower surface of the cartridge 120, which would be used by a conventional connector. Correspondingly, the structure of the connector 111 can be simplified, and the manufacturing cost can be reduced.
  • [0206]
    Turning again to FIG. 15, the thin stainless-steel metal plate 112 is provided in the insert port 110 in order to support the cartridge 120. The metal plate 112 has a thickness of about 0.3 mm, and a front end 112 a of the metal plate 112 is bent at 90 degrees in the downward direction. The front end 112 a of the metal plate 112 comes into contact with a foam pad 113 (i.e., a wall portion). The foam pad 113 is disposed on the surface of the substrate 114 by way of an adhesive. As a result, metal powder stemming from abrasion occurring when the contact pins 111 c of the connector 111 come into contact with the external connector terminals 122 a provided in the cartridge 120 is prevented from falling on the substrate 114 by the folded metal plate 112 and the foam pad 113, which serves as a blocking wall; otherwise the metal powder would induce contact failures among the wiring patterns provided on the substrate 114 or adjacent semiconductor devices (not shown), thus deteriorating the reliability of the game machine. The semiconductor device is provided on the lower surface of the substrate 114 so as to face the cartridge 120 with the metal plate 112 interposed therebetween. According to the second embodiment, although the foam pad 113 is used as a wall portion, the present invention is not limited to the foam pad. In a case where a wall portion is formed over the circuit board, an insulating substance is applied to the area of the wall portion which comes into contact with the circuit board. In contrast, in a case where the wall portion is not provided on the circuit board, an electrically-conducting substance may be used in addition to the insulating substance. The shape of the wall portion is not limited.
  • [0207]
    The hand-held game machine having the foregoing configuration performs the following functions.
  • [0208]
    The hand-held game machine has functions represented respectively by means of the RAM 125 (memory) (or a semiconductor device) which causes the game program 124 a stored in the ROM 123 of the cartridge 120 to proceed; the liquid crystal display unit 101 a for displaying the image data set 124 b stored in the ROM 124 as an image; the sound reproduction unit 103 which includes a speaker for reproducing the sound data set 124 c as sound; the foregoing controller 102; and the CPU 125 (a semiconductor device) which instructs the game program 124 a of the ROM 124 to proceed, transmits to the liquid crystal display unit 101 a the relevant image data set 124 b from among the plurality of image data sets 124 b according to the progress of the game program 123 a and entry operations performed by the player by way of the controller 102, and transmits to the sound reproduction unit 103 a the relevant sound data set 124 c from among the plurality of sound data sets 124 c according to the progress of the game program 123 a and entry operations performed by the player by way of the controller 102.
  • [0209]
    Further, the liquid crystal display unit 101 a is connected to the display drive circuit 126 in order to display the image data sets 124 so that an animated character appears to be moving.
  • [0210]
    Further, the sound reproduction unit 103 a is connected to the sound reproduction circuit 127 so as to cause the sound reproduction unit 103 a to reproduce the sound data set 124 c so as to simulate the character's voice.
  • [0211]
    As mentioned above, the cartridge 120 is electrically connected to the hand-held game machine by way of the connector 111.
  • [0212]
    In the hand-held game machine having such functions, a game is executed according to the following procedures.
  • [0213]
    First, the player inserts the cartridge 120 into the connector 111 of the hand-held game machine. The power switch is turned on in this state. The CPU 125 reads the game program 124 a stored in the ROM 125 of the cartridge 120 and causes the RAM 125 to carry out the game program according to instructions from the CPU 125. The player visually checks the development of the game displayed on the liquid crystal display screen 101 in association with progress of the game program and actuates the controller 102, as necessary. For example, in a game where an animated character (a pseudo player) displayed on the liquid crystal display screen 101 moves ahead while avoiding bullets fired from a position in front of the character, the player presses and actuates the controller 102 skillfully to move the character from side to side or back and forth so as to avoid bullets. Further, the player's operations are set according to a game program.
  • [0214]
    According to the present embodiment, the case body 121 of the cartridge 120 is assembled from the upper case 121 a and the lower case 121 b. However, the present invention is not limited to such a configuration. As shown in FIG. 25, the cartridge body may be made up of an upper case 130 a, a lower case 130 b, and a window case 130 c. For example, the window case 130 c can be fitted to the upper case 130 a and the lower case 130 b by means of a nonillustrated fitting means. Moreover, the window case 130 c and the upper case 130 a, both being shown in FIG. 25, may be integrally formed, and the lower case 130 b may be later fitted to the thus-assembled unit. Further, according to the present embodiment, the side walls of the case body are formed at both ends of the upper and lower walls. However, the configuration of the case body is not limited to this structure. The side walls may be formed at positions inward of both ends of the upper and lower walls, so long as there is provided a space for insertion of the projections of the connector.
  • [0215]
    Accordingly, according to the second embodiment, since the upper wall, the lower wall, and the side walls are integrally formed, the dimensional accuracy of height and width of the hollow portions can be improved to a great extent. Therefore, when the connector is inserted into the hollow portions, the wiring patterns exposed in the hollow portions can be brought into more reliable contact with the contact pins, thereby preventing electrical contact failures and a decrease in reliability of the connector.
  • [0216]
    Further, as a result of use of the cartridge according to the second embodiment, it is only required that a connector be inserted into a hollow space of the cartridge, thereby eliminating need to provide the connector with a retaining wall for supporting the lower surface of the cartridge, which would be used by a conventional connector. Correspondingly, the structure of the connector can be simplified, and the profile of the game machine can be lowered. As a result, the hand-held game machine becomes very thin, and very convenient for the player to carry.
  • [0217]
    Further, according to the second embodiment, the wall portion is disposed on the substrate in the position between the semiconductor device and the connector. Accordingly, metal powder formed when the cartridge is fitted to the connector can be prevented from falling on, e.g., wiring patterns on the substrate or the semiconductor device, which would otherwise result in contact failure.
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7083420Feb 9, 2004Aug 1, 2006Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc.Interactive handheld apparatus with stylus
US7249950Oct 7, 2004Jul 31, 2007Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc.Display apparatus for teaching writing
US7422523 *Feb 10, 2004Sep 9, 2008Ethan WoodHandheld pinball game having a changeable display
US7529519Feb 9, 2004May 5, 2009Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc.Interactive handheld educational apparatus with stylus
US7553160Jun 30, 2009Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc.Interactive hand held apparatus with stylus
US8025504Jul 31, 2007Sep 27, 2011Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc.Display apparatus for teaching writing
US8025505 *Dec 23, 2008Sep 27, 2011Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc.Interactive hand held apparatus with stylus
US20040137984 *Jan 9, 2003Jul 15, 2004Salter Hal C.Interactive gamepad device and game providing means of learning musical pieces and songs
US20040224775 *Feb 9, 2004Nov 11, 2004Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc.Interactive handheld apparatus with stylus
US20050037327 *Feb 9, 2004Feb 17, 2005Lepfrog Enterprises,Inc.Interactive hand held apparatus with stylus
US20050176501 *Feb 10, 2004Aug 11, 2005Ethan WoodHandheld pinball game having a changeable display
US20060188861 *Apr 13, 2006Aug 24, 2006Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc.Interactive hand held apparatus with stylus
US20060245741 *Jun 29, 2006Nov 2, 2006Cynthia LakhansinghDigital enterainment recorder
US20080048991 *Jul 31, 2007Feb 28, 2008Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc.Display apparatus for teaching writing
US20120182239 *Jan 18, 2012Jul 19, 2012Kyocera CorporationPortable electronic apparatus
US20150265914 *Jun 3, 2015Sep 24, 2015Nintendo Co., Ltd.Game operating device
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/37
International ClassificationA63F13/08
Cooperative ClassificationA63F13/08, A63F2300/204, A63F2300/1043
European ClassificationA63F13/08
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 30, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: PLAYMORE CORPORATION, JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SNK CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:012852/0826
Effective date: 20020306