The Game: Well, blow me down! Popeye the sailor man gets his own video game. As Popeye, you’re trying to catch Olive Oyl’s falling hearts before they descend to sea level and are lost, while ducking Bluto’s punches at the same time. A can of spinach appears every so often, giving you the opportunity to read the big bully the riot act (comic strip-style, of course). (Parker Brothers, 1983)
Memories: Well, shiver me timbers! It took me just shy of twenty years to get it, mateys, but this old landlubber has finally gotten his mitts on Popeye for the Odyssey2 – and blow me down, it’s seaworthy!
Though not exactly a graphics showcase – but what is on this particular platform? – this home version of Nintendo’s coin-op is quite a bit of fun, even though it barely resembles its inspiration. Parker Brothers’ programmers had to make a lot of compromises in the game play to get Popeye to work on the Odyssey.
While some might regard this watering-down of the game play – dare I say it? – wimpy, it’s actually a good starting point for someone who’s never set eyes on the game before. You can’t loiter around on the upper levels like you can in the coin-op (or, for that matter, most of the other home versions). Nor can you get back to the upper levels if you leave that part of the screen – once you dive into the action, you’re in it for the rest of that round.
Popeye for the Odyssey2 has but one level, ditching the slightly more complicated second screen altogether. But the one level which is there is still challenging in and of itself; it is what it is, and that’s all that is is, as a wise cartoon character once said. Bluto’s most frequent means of dealing with the pesky sailor man (that’s you, by the way) is to reach down from an upper level and clobber him.
The control in Popeye is fairly smooth, and you can actually rack up an impressive score before the aforementioned clobbering ends your turn.
All in all, Popeye for the Odyssey2 may not be the most faithful arcade translation of this particular game, and it’s not the most faithful arcade translation for this particular console either (those honors would have to go to Turtles and Q*Bert). But it is fun.
From a collecting standpoint, you can expect to pay a pretty penny for this one. The cartridge you see on this page cost $80, in fact. Along with Super Cobra, Popeye is the hardest to find of the quartet of games released by Parker Brothers. (A fifth Parker title, a home version of Tutankham, was announced as an upcoming product but never made it to the stores; a completed prototype was discovered later.)