The Game: The Odyssey2’s keyboard and processing power are at your disposal for any number of mathematical tasks. If you can do it on an adding machine or a low-end handheld scientific calculator, you can do it on Calculator! too. (PackratVG.com / Rene Van Den Enden, 2006)
Memories: It’s difficult to really “review” this cartridge, as it’s not a game, and unlike, say, Type & Tell, it can’t even be twisted into one. So you’ll have to forgive me for forgoing the usual “X out of 5” rating system for this homebrew release. In the interests of disclosure, I created the cover and label artwork for Calculator!, but that does allow me to add one “insider” note: instead of the usual “multi-mode game cartridge” product description on the packaging, it was requested that I label this as the first-ever “multi-mode application cartridge” for the Odyssey2. I think that was a smart move.
Before anyone tunes out because this really isn’t a game review, let’s take stock of one thing: much was made of the Odyssey2 being the only first-generation programmable game console with a full alphanumberic keyboard, but in truth, so very few of Magnavox or Philips’ own games utilized that feature that one could be forgiven for not keeping that in mind. In theory, Calculator! probably could’ve been executed even better on the Bally Professional Arcade, with its vaguely-ten-key-style control keypad, but it’s an example of what sort of things the Odyssey2 could have (and arguably should have) beaten everyone else to the punch on.
Instead of tacking something like Calculator! onto a cartridge with a game like Math-A-Magic!, the Odyssey2 had to wait nearly 30 years for this function. (In theory, there’s no reason why it couldn’t have been built into the console itself back then, activated only if powered up with no cartridge.) Calculator! is more of a curiosity and a tech demonstration than anything that remotely resembles a playable game, but this latest entry by Rene Van Den Enden (of Pong For Odyssey2 fame) is an interesting look at a function that could have been.