Donkey Kong

Donkey KongThe Game: In a very faithful adaptation of Nintendo’s all-time classic arcade game, you’re Mario, a rotund and lovesick fellow who would gladly scale scaffolding, bound over barrels and feint past foxfires, all to save the damsel in See the videodistress. (Coleco, 1982)

The Game: This was it, friends. This was what sold the ColecoVision. Donkey Kong was one of the hottest games in arcades at that time, and Coleco was smart enough to grab the rights from Nintendo as well as to make it the pack-in cartridge for the ColecoVision (like Combat was the pack-in for the Atari 2600). Continue reading

Ladybug

LadybugThe Game: You’re a hungry ladybug in a maze full of dangers and morsels. Other insects roam the maze trying to eat you, and skulls scattered around the maze are also deadly to the touch. The only advantage you really have is to See the videomaneuver skillfully through the revolving doors, slamming them shut behind you and forcing your pursuers to take a different route (they can’t go through the revolving doors). (Coleco, 1982)

Memories: With the rights to mega-hits like Pac-Man taken by the time the ColecoVision hit the stores, Coleco grabbed the rights to a number of somewhat more obscure arcade games, including virtually the entire catalog of Universal games, the makers of such games as Mr. Do, Mr. Do’s Castle, and Ladybug. Coleco’s Ladybug cartridge is a very faithful rendition of its arcade inspiration, and it’s quite a bit of fun. Continue reading

Mouse Trap

Mouse TrapThe Game: In this munching-maze game, you control a mouse who scurries around a cheese-filled maze which can only be navigated by strategically opening and closing yellow, red and blue doors with their color-coded buttons. Occasionally a big chunk o’ cheese can be gobbled for extra points. Is it that easy? No. There is also a herd of hungry kitties who would love a mousy morsel. But you’re not defenseless. By eating a bone, you can transform into a dog, capable of eating the cats. But each bone’s effects only last for a little while, after which you revert to a defenseless mouse. (Coleco, 1982)

Memories: Based on the almost-obscure Exidy arcade game, Coleco turned out a faithful cartridge version of Mouse Trap, with one drawback – just as it was in the arcade, the control scheme for opening the color-coded doors throughout the maze wasn’t the most intuitive way that anyone had ever come up with for controlling a game, even if one does have the overlays that fit over the controller keypads. Continue reading

Mr. Do!

Mr. Do!The Game: As an elfin dweller of a magic garden, you must avoid or do away with a bunch of nasty critters who are after you, while gobbling up See the original TV adas much yummy fruit as you can. (Coleco, 1982)

Memories: Probably the highest-profile title of Coleco’s original licensing deal with Universal, Mr. Do! came home in an almost insanely entertaining cartridge for the ColecoVision. The graphics and sound closely mimic those of the arcade game, and control seems fairly smooth to me. Continue reading

Pepper II

Pepper IIThe Game: You’re a little angel (of sorts). You run around a maze consisting of zippers which close or open, depending upon whether or not you’ve already gone over that section of the maze. Zipping up one square of the maze scores points for you, but it gets trickier. Little devils chase you around the maze, trying to kill you before you can zip up the entire screen. If you zip up enough of the maze and grab a power-pellet-like object, you can dispatch some of your pursuers. Clear the screen and the fun begins anew. (Exidy, 1982)

Memories: One of the first games released for Colecovision, Pepper II lived up to the advertising hype that basically said that owning Coleco’s new console was as good as having your own arcade. While the original arcade game didn’t exactly set the bar very high for any home adaptations, Pepper II really sells the Colecovision = arcade message by being almost flawless. Continue reading

Smurf: Rescue From Gargamel’s Castle

Smurf: Rescue From Gargamel's CastleThe Game: You are an unidentified Smurf en route to save Smurfette from Gargamel’s castle. Now, you may think that Gargamel would deploy his vicious black cat to stop you from reaching that goal, but that sort See the original TV adof melodramatic stuff only happens in cartoons. Real Smurfs can be felled by something as innocuous as a fall off a very short ledge or running into clumps of grass. (Coleco, 1982)

Memories: The early 80s: video games were hot, new wave music was now mainstream, everybody who was anybody had given Rubik’s Cube a twist, and of course, there were Smurfs all over the place. Now, setting aside the fact that with the plural of knife being knives and the plural of scarf being scarves, the plural of Smurf should be Smurves, Peyo’s little blue critters were all over the place – cartoons, clothing, lunchboxes, toys, and more. You’d think that a market would have arisen for an effective Smurf repellant, perhaps in an environmentally-friendly non-aerosol spray form, but instead Coleco gave us this marvelous video game, in which those so inclined could send hundreds of the little pests hurtling headlong, lemming-like, to their death. Continue reading

Space Fury

Space FuryThe Game: The Space Fury Commander – a big one-eyed dude with a veiny green cranium – challenges you to a duel. One slight problem: you’ve just got one ship and can only shoot in one direction at a time, and he has a whole battle fleet bent on your destruction. After surviving a round of his contest, you get the chance to dock with an enhancement module that will allow you to fire shots in several directions at once, or fire more powerful shots. The Commander always comes back to taunt you. When you lose all of your ships, the game is over, and one-eye gets to gloat. (Coleco [under license from Sega/Gremlin], 1982)

Memories: A better-than-decent adaptation of the cult arcade classic, Space Fury is that rare raster title that makes a virtue of having been adapted from an arcade game with a completely different graphics system. Space Fury spoke in the arcades with a robust speech synthesizer; ColecoVision Space Fury puts the Commander’s banter on the screen as a scrolling subtitle. Continue reading

Venture

VentureThe Game: As intrepid (and perpetually happy) adventurer Winky, armed only with a bow and arrow, you’re on a treasure hunt of the deadliest kind. HallMonsters try to stop you at every turn, and their minions guard the individual treasures that lie in the rooms of the maze. You can kill the smaller creatures (though their decomposing remains are still deadly to touch), but the HallMonsters are impervious to your arrows – and you’re lunch. (Coleco, 1982)

Memories: Based on the addictive arcade game, this game is an excellent home translation, complete with background music and sound effects. Though the ColecoVision was more than capable of displaying more colorful and more detailed graphics, Venture is one of the better “simple” games made for this console. Continue reading

Zaxxon

ZaxxonThe Game: You’re the pilot of a lone fighter ship, screaming down the trench-like, heavily armed confines of a spaceborne fortress, on a mission to find and destroy the Zaxxon robot – the most heavily guarded of all – at the heart of the See the videostructure. (Coleco, 1982)

Memories: In 1983, Sega’s Zaxxon was the hottest new thing in the arcade, and quickly became a windmill for home video game consoles to attempt to topple. Its vaguely-3D perspective was the game’s claim to fame, and was the hardest thing for home video game programmers to try to emulate. Continue reading

Turbo

TurboThe Game: It’s pretty straightforward…you’re zipping along in your Formula One race car, trying to avoid other drivers and obstacles along the way while hauling a sufficient quantity of butt to win the race. (Coleco [under license from Sega], 1982)

Memories: One of the seminal first-person racing games of the 80s, Turbo was one of several Sega coin-ops that caught the eye of Coleco. The one hurdle in bringing it to the ColecoVision? Having to invent a whole new controller that would be similar enough to Turbo‘s arcade control scheme without being so specific as to rule out using the driving controller for other games in the future. And thus was born Expansion Module #2, a steering wheel controller with a detachable “gas pedal.” Continue reading

B.C.’s Quest For Tires

B.C.'s Quest For TiresThe Game: As beleaguered caveman B.C., you’ve just discovered the wheel. That’s the good news. The bad news is that, on the same day that you harness mechanical motion for the first time, you’re also going to discover the traffic See the videoaccident. Jump over holes in the ground, rocks and rolling boulders, and duck under tree limbs – and then you’ve got to survive showing your new evolutionary step off to the Mrs.! (Sierra On-Line, 1983)

Memories: B.C.’s Quest For Tires is one of those games that immediately brings the word “Colecovision” to mind – it was a striking game for its day, and this was the platform where it truly excelled (though it was also available on several home computers as well). Johnny Hart’s comic strip wasn’t quite in the Garfield stratosphere of daily newspaper comics, but it was popular enough that its characters would seem familiar. Continue reading

Donkey Kong Jr.

Donkey Kong Jr.The Game: As the offspring of the mighty monkey, it’s up to you to scale vines and chains, avoid mobile traps, occasionally grab some yummy fruit (since when is a little ape on Pac-Man’s diet?), and get to the key or keys that will free your papa. (Coleco, 1983)

Memories: Again very faithful to its arcade namesake, the Coleco version of Donkey Kong Jr. is an essential addition to the ColecoVision player’s library, with very accurately reproduced sound and graphics. Continue reading

Evolution

EvolutionThe Game: It can take billions of years for a microbe to evolve into a race of creatures crossing the stars, except in the confines of the Colecovision universe, where it can take mere minutes. Players control an amoeba, avoiding predators on the screen except the DNA needed to grow and evolve. Through several successive stages, avoiding aggressors and gathering material for future growth is the only way to stay alive and evolve, from amoeba to frog to rodent to beaver to gorilla to human space warrior. (Sydney, 1983)

Memories: An unusual game by any measure, Evolution isn’t content simply to put the player through several levels of difficulty; it guides the player through entire stages of biological life. Already released on the Apple II and Commodore 64, Evolution was really a computer game at heart. Even though action and quick reflexes are required to survive, Evolution is really a game of patience and perseverance. Continue reading

Flipper Slipper

Flipper SlipperThe Game: The water is rising! You’re all that stands between the animals and rising floodwaters. Using a pair of paddles, you have to keep a projectile moving without letting it knock a hole in the seawall behind you; if too many holes See the videoare blasted through the wall, the game will be over and the water will pour in. (Spectravideo, 1983)

Memories: Of all the places to find an oldie-but-goodie game concept. Flipper Slipper is a game that plays very similar to Cutie Q – i.e., the last game designed by Toru Iwitani before he created Pac-Man for Namco. Continue reading

Frogger

FroggerThe Game: In a faithful home version of Sega’s original arcade game, you’re a frog trying to cross a highway, and then safely hop across the backs of logs and turtles – while avoiding alligators, snakes and otters – all to get home at the top of the screen. (Parker Brothers, 1983)

Memories: I’ve had the Atari 2600 version of Frogger for a long time, and I’ll admit that both the MAME version of the original arcade game and the Coleco tabletop battery-powered electronic Frogger have always struck me as being very faithful. But as far as early 80s platforms go, ColecoVision wound up with the most faithful Frogger of all. Continue reading

Gorf

GorfThe Game: As the pilot of a solo space fighter, you take on several different varieties of alien attacks masterminded by those pesky, ever-present Gorfian robots. (Coleco, 1983)

Memories: As often is the case with ColecoVision games, this version of the classic Bally/Midway arcade game is visually and aurally faithful to its inspiration, but two key elements didn’t make it into this home version of Gorf: the speech synthesis and the “Galaxians” stage, the latter of which may have vanished to ensure that Bally/Midway could spread around the license for Gorf‘s predecessor, Galaxian, among as many companies as possible, maximizing profits. (The “Galaxians” stage was also missing from CBS/Fox’s Atari 2600 version of Gorf, as Atari had already snagged the cartridge rights to Galaxian for itself.) Continue reading

Jungle Hunt

Jungle HuntThe Game: You are an intrepid, pith-helmeted explorer of the jungle! Swinging from vine to vine! Swimming through crocodile-infested waters! Jumping and ducking huge rolling boulders! And vanquishing spear-weilding natives to rescue the damsel! (Atarisoft, 1983)

Memories: One of a handful of Atarisoft games for the ColecoVision, Jungle Hunt proves a point: while Coleco was trying to drive discriminating gamers toward its own console with subpar ports of games like Zaxxon (compare the ColecoVision edition to the Atari 2600 port) and Donkey Kong (again, compare the ColecoVision and 2600 versions), Atari – post-2600 Pac-Man debacle – was at least trying to turn out quality games for whatever platform it released games on. Continue reading

Moonsweeper

MoonsweeperThe Game: As the pilot of a super-fast intergalactic rescue ship (which is also armed to the teeth, which explains the absence of a red cross painted on the hull), you must navigate your way through hazardous comets and See the videospace debris, entering low orbit around various planets from which you must rescue a certain number of stranded civilians. But there’s a reason you’re armed – some alien thugs mean to keep those people stranded, and will do their best to blast you into dust. You can return the favor, and after you rescue the needed quota of people from the surface, you must align your ship with a series of launch rings to reach orbit again. (Imagic, 1983)

Memories: Not terribly different from the Atari 2600 edition of the same game, Colecovision Moonsweeper gets a big graphical boost from the step up to the most powerful console of the early 80s. Continue reading

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