Back in the 90s, if you had mentioned the names Nintendo and Sega to a kid in America, Japan or Europe, their face would have likely lit up. They’d instantly know what these words represented; the colour and excitement of a game on the TV screen in their front room, and a sense of fun. But if you said these words to a child in Russia, they’d have looked at you blankly. These companies were not present in the region at the time. Say ‘Dendy’, however, and you’d invoke that same kind of magic.
This was a counterfeit NES console that was released in December 1992 by a Russian technology company called Steepler. It all began when Victor Savyuk, then working at another tech firm called Paragraph, first learnt of ‘TV games’; machines that plugged into your TV at home, were controlled with joysticks and let people enjoy video games.
There were no IP protections for games on consoles in Russia at the time, making this entire endeavor possible.