The Game: You control a solitary swarm of “good” bees, trailed by a couple of handy ray guns on the same vertical axis. The game starts out with a bunch of dim-witted Beebots bumbling around the screen, which you can sting with your bee swarm until the ‘bots slow down and finally expire, marked by a rather grim little tombstone! This probably sounds easy enough, but there are killer bees from outer space emerging from hives around the edge of the play area, and when their swarms collide with your swarm, you lose bees. The only defense against the killer bees is a pair of ray guns, which have to recharge after every use. (North American Philips, 1983)
Memories: This is one of the strangest and most unique games that was ever made for the Odyssey2. As the Odyssey programmers realized very quickly, the Voice was very limited, and Killer Bees! saw some interesting innovations in that area, namely the “bee buzz” generated by the speech module. Programmer Bob Harris has said that Killer Bees! was his attempt to bring the relentless momentum of Centipede to the Odyssey2, though players might never have made that connection apart from the insectoid theme. It’s a damned aggravating and addictive little game!
Killer Bees! was one of the last Odyssey 2 games manufactured by North American Phillips, and it seems indicative of what could have been a very promising future trend for the Odyssey if the great downfall of the home video game market hadn’t occurred in the early 80s.
I interviewed Bob Harris about Killer Bees! and all things Odyssey, and Bob supplied us with numerous vintage goodies from the good old days of gaming, such as the Killer Bees! ink pen seen above and the one-sheet color ad from the marketing department you see here. Click on the thumbnails to see the full-size images!