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Attack Of The Timelord!

Attack Of The Timelord!The Game: The game begins as the skull-like face of Spyruss the Deathless (the Timelord of Chaos, no less!) taunts you (well, only if you had the Voice), and then a bunch of pesky spaceships pops out of a vortex to shoot at See the videoyou. They shoot at you rather a lot. Fortunately, you can shoot back with reckless abandon, but their ammunition – as you ascend into the higher levels of the game – can track you and even, if you don’t destroy their shots in mid-air, crawl along the ground briefly while you head for the opposite side of the screen, neatly trapped for their next volley. (North American Philips, 1982)

Memories: One of the last few games to be made for the Odyssey 2, this gem of addictive shooting-gallery fun is obviously heavily derived from the all-time arcade classic Galaga. Continue reading

K.C.’s Krazy Chase

K.C.'s Krazy ChaseThe Game: As a small blue spherical creature whose sole sensory organs consist of two eyes, two antennae and an enormous mouth, your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to start munching on the segmented body of the dreaded See the videoDratapillar while avoiding its always-lethal head. When you consume one of its body segments, the Dratapillar’s two henchbeings – known only as Drats – turn white with fright and you can send them a-spinning (normally, they’re deadly to touch too). Eating all of the Dratapillar segments gets you to the next level, and the mayhem begins anew. (North American Philips, 1982)

Memories: Perhaps just out of spite, the first non-educational game released to take advantage of the Odyssey 2’s new Voice add-on module featured K.C. Munchkin, the Pac-Man-esque critter who had landed Magnavox on the wrong side of a look-and-feel software lawsuit filed by Atari. Continue reading

Nimble Numbers NED!

Nimble Numbers NED!The Game: You are NED, hopping over boulders and, with each obstacle overcome, tackling progressively more difficult math questions and pattern-matching exercises. You can select what kind of math you need to work on See the video(addition, subtraction, etc.), and if you don’t solve a problem correctly the first time, it’s broken down into smaller parts to help you work out how it all goes together. (North American Philips, 1982)

Memories: This game was originally going to be called Math Potatoes! – and as inauspicious a title as Nimble Numbers NED! may be, you have to admit that Math Potatoes! probably would’ve been too bizarre to entice parents looking for suitable educational software for their kids. Continue reading

P.T. Barnum’s Acrobats!

P.T. Barnum's Acrobats!The Game: You control an acrobat on a moving see-saw, launching your fellow acrobat into the air to pop balloons and defy gravity in an act that would’ve done old Barnum proud! But what goes up must come down, and your See the videoairborne acrobat, if he doesn’t bounce upward upon impact with more balloons, will plummet at alarming speed. You have to catch him with the empty end of the see-saw, thus catapulting the other acrobat into a fresh round of inflatible destruction. (North American Philips, 1982)

Memories: Another variation on the timeless Breakout formula, this game represented one of the Odyssey2’s first ventures into an area which most other home video game systems had already entered: licensing. Continue reading

SID The Spellbinder!

SID The Spellbinder!The Game: What happens when the Dreaded Dratapillar Of Venus makes a guest appearance? It means that a spelling bee is imminent! A friendly voice warns you to look out for a “monster attack,” and after dispatching all of the segments of the worm-like invader, you’re asked to correctly spell three words using the Odyssey2 keyboard. Once you’ve correctly spelled those three words, another monster attack occurs, with the Dratapillar moving faster in each successive level; the game continues until it descends far enough down the screen to reach your cannon. (North American Philips, 1982)

See the videoMemories: Programmed by Sam Overton, SID The Spellbinder! was one of the first two – and, as it so happened, only two – educational launch titles made available specifically for the then-new Voice Of Odyssey speech synthesizer. Continue reading

Smithereens!

Smithereens!The Game: Armed with a catapult and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of projectiles (sorry, Python fans, no cows!), your task is to repeatedly and continuously smash your opponent’s castle, his catapult (rendering him harmless for a few See the videoseconds), or your opponent himself (much the same effect; a new enemy soldier enters the fray after a few seconds). (North American Philips, 1982)

Memories: Possibly the best two-player Odyssey2 game there ever was, Smithereens! was exceedingly simple, and simply some of the best fun to be had on this game system. Continue reading

Type & Tell

Type & TellThe Game: You type! It talks! And occasionally you have to throw the damnedest misspellings at it to get it to say the simplest words. And despite the back of the box claiming that it “plays fun games,” it’s much more likely that it’ll just make some fun (and weird) sounds. (Magnavox, 1982)

Memories: A pack-in cartridge included with the Voice of Odyssey 2, Type & Tell is actually a barely-glorified Odyssey version of Speak ‘n’ Spell, except everything it says is in a monotone robotic voice which one of the video game magazines of the time once described as “Darth Vader on quaaludes.” (One of these days, remind me to tell you about my mother’s reaction when I asked her, after reading that review, what quaaludes were.) Continue reading

Killer Bees!

Killer Bees!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)

See the videoMemories: 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! Continue reading

Turtles!

Turtles!The Game: As the mama turtle, you trundle around a simple maze, pursued by nasty bugs which are lethal to the touch. You can drop bombs in their path, which will reduce their speed (and this device really does beg all sorts of biological See the videodouble-entendrès, doesn’t it?). Your mission is to visit the isolated cul-de-sacs in the maze – which in itself can lead to your turtle getting trapped – to retrieve your eggs and take them to safe houses dotted around the maze. If you visit the wrong place at the wrong time, you’ll wind up with not an egg, but a new bug hot on your heels. Getting all your turtle eggs to safety takes you to the next level, and eventually everything winds up moving so fast, you haven’t got a chance. (North American Philips [under license from Stern], 1983)

Memories: This simple rendition of an extremely obscure Stern arcade game has to rank as one of the most addictive Odyssey 2 games ever made, and it quickly puts the lie to the common misconception that the Odyssey would have been useless for home versions of arcade games anyway. Continue reading

Pong For Odyssey2!

Pong For Odyssey2!Travel back in time to the dawn of interactive electronic games. Pong For Odyssey2 offers a standard two-player version of the classic video table tennis game, as well as electronic recreations of the analog version of the game available on the first home game See the videoBuy this gamesystem, the Magnavox Odyssey. (Renè Van Den Enden [published by Packrat Video Games], 2004)

Memories: Odyssey2 homebrews are a lovely thing to behold, and this is a game that you’d think would have been done sooner on this machine – especially with Magnavox’s claim to fame as the first company to manufacture and distribute a home video game system in the United States (or anywhere else for that matter). In the end, it took 25 years to get a Pong game on this console. Continue reading

Mr. Roboto!

Mr. Roboto!Buy this gameThe Game: Robots, commanded by the CPU which is in turn commanded by you, take up positions on a battlefield grid. The two opposing armies converge, and if two robots lae square, the action zooms in on that portion of the battlefield so the two can fight it out. When one robot’s energy is exhausted by the other’s attacks or by coming into contact with energy pulses bouncing around the arena, that robot is forfeited and the action returns to the grid. The CPUs can transmit viruses to any enemy robot on the grid, stealing half of that robot’s speed or hit points, or halting it altogether. Robots can attack the enemy CPU, but the CPU has a more robust defensive mechanism at its disposal than the average robot… (Ted Sczcypiorski [published by Packrat Video Games], 2006)

See the videoMemories: Yet another Odyssey2 homebrew is charting impressive new territory for a classic console that many consider to be underpowered. And yet, what we have here in Mr. Roboto! is essentially Archon – a classic computer game that didn’t appear on a console until the NES. And yet here it is running on one of the 8-bit era’s underdogs, and running quite nicely, thank you very much. Continue reading

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