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Thanks for viewing this page!  After answering this question a couple thousand times, I decided to setup a webpage to explain the differences between the Merit games!  And here it is.  As far as I can tell, this is the most comprehensive page anywhere that explains the differences between all the different games.

There are 3 things that I'm going to try and explain.  Those are the hardware platform, the software version, and cabinet.  

First, there are four different hardware lines.  They are XL, Maxx, Force and ION.  Each of these hardware versions will only run the software that was designed to run on it (ie, you cannot load the Titanium software onto the Force hardware).  Any "Maxx" machine will take any "Maxx" software.  Any "Force" machine will only take "Force" software.  And so on.

The following is a diagram of when each software version was released (as well as the hardware that it runs on).  Also, the new software releases coincide with each other.  Like, the games that were new to the Platinum software were also the new ones on the Diamond software, which was released the same year.  Same thing with the Titanium/Emerald/Force 2002.  

 

Software Year XL
Maxx
Force
ION
1997
XL



1998
XL5000/XL Super 5000



1999
XL 6000
Maxx


2000
Gold
Maxx 2k / Maxx 2k Plus


2001
Platinum / Double Platinum
Diamond / Diamond 2


2002
Titanium / Titanium 2
Emerald / Emerald 2
2002 / 2002.5

2003

Ruby / Ruby 2
2003 / 2003.5

2004

Sapphire / Sapphire 2
2004 / 2004.5

2005

Jade / Jade 2
2005 / 2005.5

2006

Crown
2006 / 2006.5
2006 / 2006.5
2007


2007 / 2007.5
2007 / 2007.5
2008


2008 / 2008.5
2008 / 2008.5
2009

2009 / 2009.5
2009 / 2009.5
2010

2010 / 2010.5
2010 / 2010.5
2011

2011
2011 / 2011.5
2012


2012






And Finally, there is the cabinet.  A Force EVO 2007(Flat Screen) and the Force Radion 2007 (CRT) have exactly the same games!  There is no difference in the amount of games, or the way they play.  Same thing goes with a Classic Maxx Sapphire (The Silver sided Maxx) and a Select Maxx Sapphire (the metal cabinet Maxx).  Below is a complete listing of (with all the links to) the different cabinets used with each of the different hardware versions

 

Megatouch XL Hardware

Megatouch Maxx Hardware

 

Megatouch Force Hardware
Megatouch ION Hardware
Classic
Classic (Blue or Silver Sides) Classic EVO
  Slim/Select Maxx (Small Green Metal Cabinet) Radion (Black Plastic Cabinet) Elite Edge
  Full/Heavy Maxx (Big Metal Cabinet) Elite (Larger LCD Cabinet) Aurora
  EZ Maxx (First LCD Panel Merit Game) Vibe (2 Piece LCD Game) Rx
  Elite Maxx (Same as EZ but DBV is integrated) EVO (Most Common LCD Game)
 
Elite Edge

 

Now, I know what you are all asking.  "Which game should I buy?"

Unfortunately, there isn't a very easy answer.  I will give a few suggestions though.  At this point in time (March of 2012), there is ZERO point in buying an XL game.  Because of the abundance of used machines floating around, you can buy a Maxx for about the same you'd pay for an XL.  And the Maxx is newer, more reliable, you can actually get reliable parts for it, and it can have twice as many games as even the very best XL.

The biggest issue with the XLs (at this point) are reliability.  Many had Telco or Ducksan monitors (both are garbage).  Many were upgraded with hard drives that are not available anymore (and thanks to Merit, CANNOT be duplicated because of a special firmware installed to the drive).  And if you have a CD based game, you have a boot eprom and an I/O board to boot off of.  And now, these boot eproms and I/O boards are all starting to fail.  Basically, if you are considering buying an XL, DON'T.  For the same money, or maybe slightly more, you can pickup a Maxx game that is far better in every way.

I would expect to pay $100-$400 for a Maxx machine.  $100 would be a steal.  $200- $400 is probably more realistic if you are searching out Craigslist or eBay.  $400 would be a checked out Crown with a Warranty.  Obviously, the newer the software, the better.  The Crown software alone is worth about $200.  So if you buy a Maxx and want to update it, expect to pay at least that much for a Crown kit.  And that's even if you can find one!

Now, with that being said, for not much more than a high-end Maxx game, you can probably get a Force.  I see Forces listed with No Reserve on eBay selling under $400.  And I'll sell you one for $500 + Shipping (Classic Force 2006.5).  And mine has a warranty and has been gone through, checked out, and serviced.  And if you are OK with a CRT (picture tube) based game and can afford to spend $500 on it, a Force machine is your best bet.  You'll have a newer hardware platform, more access to parts and upgrades, and a lot more games!

And finally, some of you Merit Aficionados are saying, "What about the original Megatouches, or the new "Megatouch Live"?.  Those are 2 lines that I didn't feel the need to addres here.  First, there is the original Megatouch.  While they look similar, the original Megatouch games share virtually no parts with the XL, Maxx, and Force games.  And while you may find one cheap, don't be tempted.  The originals have very few games, are not upgradeable, and are at an age where they are very unreliable.  So save your money.  As for the ML Live, it's so new and expensive (and can't be used in a home) that it is not something people will want for their home.

There's one other thing I HAVE to mention.  And that is buying a game on eBay.  There are a few people on eBay who sell quality games, stand behind their games, and take pride in what they do.  I do (davemanut).  Ryan Miller does (Jester's Amusements).  There are a few middle of the road sellers.  And then there are the bottom feeders.  These are the guys who buy crap from the auction, spray down the cabinet with windex, then take pictures and list it on eBay.  They charge primo prices for their stuff and advertise warranties, but you are just as good buying from them as you are joe-blow off the street.  If they don't explain their warranty, there isn't one.  If they try to get you to "buy it directly to save on eBay fees", they are really trying to get you to buy it directly so they don't have to worry about negative feedback when you realize the game they sold you is a piece of crap.  And that's if the game somehow survives shipping. 

Me posting this is not sour grapes.  It's out of frustration because I hear from these buyers who shelled out a pretty penny for their Megatouch, only to have it arrive DOA and receive ZERO help from the seller.  I will gladly forward you these emails.  I have lots.  :)





If you are looking for the best refurbished Megatouch that you can buy, check out

The Megatouch Store

or

The Megatouch Store on eBay

If you don't see the one you want listed, contact me.  I probably have it, just may not have it listed.  You can email me directly at david@themegatouchstore.com.  You can try calling at 615-364-5655, but I'm not in the shop nearly as much as I used to be, so you may not get an answer :)