Pac-Man

Coleco Pac-ManThe Game: As a round yellow creature consisting of a mouth and nothing else, you maneuver around a relatively simple maze, gobbling small yellow dots and evading four monsters who can eat you on contact. In four corners of See the TV adthe screen, red power pellets enable you to turn the tables and eat the monsters for a brief period for an escalating score. The monsters, once eaten, return to their home base in ghost form and return to chase you anew. If cleared of dots, the maze refills and the game starts again, but just a little bit faster… (Coleco, 1981)

Memories: When Atari’s VCS translation of the immensely popular Pac-Man debuted to almost universal scorn, Coleco’s marketing division must have cheered. The market was primed for a good game of Pac-Man, and with the first in its line of licensed “mini-arcades,” Coleco had just the ticket every kid was looking for. Continue reading

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

Donkey Kong

Donkey KongThe Game: In the rotund plumber Mario’s first adventure, you have to help him reach the top of a perilous scaffolding to rescue a damsel in distress from the dastardly Donkey Kong. (Coleco, 1982)

See the videoMemories: Once upon a time, Nintendo didn’t manufacture its own home video game system. Perhaps games like this convinced it to pick up the habit. Coleco did a very good job of translating Nintendo’s first arcade hit into its first game for the higher-priced ColecoVision console, but truthfully, more people had an Atari 2600 at the time, and this is the version of Donkey Kong they got. Continue reading

Donkey Kong

Donkey KongThe Game: In the rotund plumber Mario’s first adventure, you have to help him reach the top of a perilous scaffolding to rescue a damsel in distress from the dastardly Donkey Kong. (Coleco, 1982)

See the videoMemories: Remember how much of a train wreck Coleco made of Donkey Kong when they made that dismal version of it for the Atari 2600? Well, if anything, Coleco’s equally mind-numbing translation of Nintendo’s original smash hit for the Intellivision proves that Coleco was definitely trying to make their ColecoVision version of Donkey Kong look better. Continue reading

Donkey Kong Jr.

Donkey Kong Jr.The Game: As little Donkey Kong Jr., you’re trying to reach the top of a treacherous series of vines and platforms to rescue your dad from Mario. (Coleco, 1982)

Memories: I’m a “junior” myself, so I understand that there are certain challenges involved in living up to the name of one’s forebears. And though the little ape was going to have a big task in living up to his dad’s name – after all, Kong Sr.’s game was the foundation of Nintendo’s empire – the original Donkey Kong Jr. arcade game was a great deal of fun. But Coleco did Donkey Kong Jr. a grave injustice in its translation 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

Mouse Trap

Mouse TrapThe Game: In this munching-maze game (one of the dozens of such games which popped up in the wake of Pac-Man), you control a cartoonish mouse who scurries around a cheese-filled maze which can only be navigated by strategically opening and closing doors in the maze. 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 (the equivalent of Pac-Man’s power pellets), 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: To some extent, I think regular readers of Phosphor Dot Fossils have come to expect certain things…and the occasional justified slamming of a 2600 game or two is probably one of them. But not this one. No, I’m here to tell you that I love Coleco’s 2600 translation of the obscure Exidy coin-op maze chase Mouse Trap. Yes, seriously! 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: Trapped in a maze full of HallMonsters, you are adventurer Winky , on a mission to snatch incredible treasures from hazardous underground rooms inhabited by lesser beasts such as re-animated skeletons, goblins, See the videoserpents, and so on. Sometimes even the walls move, threatening to squish Winky or trap him, helpless to run from the HallMonsters. The deeper into the dungeons you go, the more treacherous the danger – and the greater the rewards. Just remember two things – the decomposing corpses of the smaller enemies are just as deadly as the live creatures. And there is no defense – and almost never any means of escape – from the HallMonsters. (Coleco, 1982)

Memories: A nice adaptation of an unsung classic, Venture on the Intellivision retains much of the arcade game’s charm and is genuinely fun. Controlling Winky with the disc controller can be a bit challenging at times, especially when you have a Hallmonster trying to invade your room and you’re already fighting to navigate in a hurry. 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

Venture

VentureThe Game: Trapped in a maze full of HallMonsters, you are adventurer Winky, on a mission to snatch incredible treasures from hazardous underground rooms inhabited by lesser beasts such as re-animated skeletons, goblins, serpents, and so on. Sometimes even the walls move, threatening to squish Winky or trap him, helpless to run from the HallMonsters. The deeper into the dungeons you go, the more treacherous the danger – and the greater the rewards. Just remember two things – the decomposing corpses of the smaller enemies are just as deadly as the live creatures. And there is no defense – and almost never any means of escape – from the HallMonsters. (Coleco, 1982)

Memories: Coleco was widely rumored to be deliberately making its third-party games for Atari and Intellivision total stinkers – look up the 2600 version of Donkey Kong or the even more miserable Intellivision version sometime. But Venture for the VCS was a bit of a surprise: it wasn’t a total stink bomb of a game. 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

Zaxxon

ZaxxonThe Game: You’re the sole space fighter pilot penetrating a heavily-armed, mobile alien fortress. If you can survive wave after wave of fighters and ground defenses, you’ll have the opportunity to destroy the Zaxxon robot at the heart of the complex. (Coleco, 1982)

Memories: Just about the only thing this game has in common with its arcade progenitor is its name. Now, keeping in mind for the moment that Zaxxon was the most visually stunning arcade game of its day, it was quite a challenge for Coleco to grab the rights and translate the game for home console systems. Even the version of Zaxxon Coleco produced for its own platform, the ColecoVision, fell a little bit short of the mark. But the Atari 2600 edition of Zaxxon may serve as proof that Coleco should have stopped with the ColecoVision adaptation. 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

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