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Every game. Chronologically.

Entries in this blog

TV School House I - RCA Studio II

Here is a scan of both TV School House I and II for scale comparisons. (In case you've never seen one of the RCA "longboxes".)   I didn't even try to coax my son to play this one because it isn't a game and it requires knowledge that he does not yet posess.   Remember your SATs? If you are not old enough to have taken them yet, then try to remember any standardized test you've ever taken. This game pack is like those tests -- except the questions are a lot less interesting.   The main co

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Speedway - Tag - RCA Studio II

Speedway: race your squares around the track. When you hit the wall or the other square you stop dead and have to slowly accelerate again. It has one good thing going for it, as far as interface design, and that is that you don't need to hold down a particular key for the square, er, car to keep moving in a particular direction. It continues to accelerate in the direction of whatever key was last pressed. This helps alleviate much of the interface discomfort that I've complained about in some of

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Gunfighter - Moonship Battle - RCA Studio II

Hey! Where are Dick and Jane? Ah, I understand. They are -in- the moonships.   I have included an "as requested" screenshot with a special subliminal bonus of ME in my UNDERWEAR! (caught by my reflection on the TV) I'll expect a lot more female comments after this entry. *nudge-nudge**wink-wink*.   Moonship Battle uses the graphics you see above, in a special advanced shot of the screen. (who coined the phrase "screenshot" and when?) Players battle each other using "moonships" that look li

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RCA Squash

Jane: "I think my legs have fallen asleep." Dick: "At least you have legs."   How could they get this one wrong?   The ball looks like it's moving across the screen in skips and jumps from coordinate to coordinate rather than doing that smooth trajectoring that I've come to expect in "Pong"-like games. Even the paddles move in jerky motions -- which probably has something to do with the fact that you control them with the keypads.   At first I thought that maybe it's the first Pong-like g

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Baseball - RCA Studio II

Dick and Jane try to ignore the Baseball player standing on one foot in their living room.   Baseball for the RCA Studio II isn't terrible. If you can look past the monochrome graphics, the sluggish control of the outfielders, the uninteresting beeps, there's actually a game that's merely annoying.   Player at the "A" keypad starts off at bat. Player at the "B" keypad pitches and plays the field first. To pitch, player "B" depresses "5" to send a straight ball, "8" for a hook left (up, relat

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"Fun" with Numbers

Again, will this early videogame couple ever actually TOUCH the console? Or each other?   Number games have been around almost as long as numbers have been around. All you need to play is your brain, a writing tool and something to write on. Fingers are optional, though removal of them as a form of "showing off" is not recommended.   Looking at a machine that can do things with numbers it isn't a big leap to saying "let's make it play 'number games'". I can forgive anyone trying to think of

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None more Blackjack

Dick and Jane (above, on the box cover) still can't bring themselves to touch this infernal contraption. They continue to sit there, unmoving, staring in disbelief at the atrocities that were committed in the name of Consumer Electronics.   This is no worse a game of Blackjack then that found on the Fairchild VES, except for the part where the black and white graphics make you appreciate the fact that the real world is polychromatic.   An interesting thing about this Blackjack, in the conte

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Biorhythms

Do you remember Biorhythms back in the 70s or early 80s?   I remember eating at a place called Ollie's in Clifton Heights, PA on Baltimore Pike. They had a Biorhythm machine. You put in your birthday and the day for which you wanted your Biorhythm reading. It would spit out a little card with graphs on it detailing how your life would be on that day. (It would also beep while doing so, for that "I'm computing" effect.)   Rubbish, of course, but it was fun with a group of other kids high on c

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Space War

I get the impression that Dick and Jane up there are just looking at the screen and wondering what the chunks are supposed to be.   Space War is the only game we played on the RCA Studio II that we didn't hate with rabid hatefulness.   Is it anything like what you think of when you think of "Spacewar"? No, no it isn't, because there are no dueling spaceships.   There are two games. One where you shoot a guided missile to destroy large and small UFOs and another where you fire shots that ri

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Built-in and Charm-Free!

When you play games on the RCA Studio II, you have to change your whole perspective on life.   You have to remember that you're lucky to even live in a world where such a thing as videogames exist. Then, you must remember that you are one of the few citizens of this planet who can spend money on videogames without having to worry about eating. Being so fortunate, how can you not greet each day, at the very least, with a faint smile?   You know that if you choose to do so today, and if you ma

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RCA Studio II

It is now January 1977.   1977 is a year of extremes in the home videogame universe. On the one extreme, call it the "bright side", we will see the birth of a mighty system which will bring joy to literally millions of people. On the other extreme, call it the "dark-as-the-inside-of-a-cow's-butt side", we will see an ugly little system that will bring pain and misery to the select few brave enough to purchase it and gaze upon its grotesque and deformed offerings.   Okay, enough with the hype

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Bicentennial Rehash

Well, 1976 has come and gone and what have we learned?   *We've learned that Hockey, Tennis and Handball are the first things game designers thought of when putting together a dedicated console.   *We learned that if I were to try to play every single dedicated pong console that ever came out, even just from 1976-78, I'd be buried in them and I'd be bored stiff after the second one.   *"Videocarts", as the Fairchild VES calls them, made their debut in August 1976. This is the start of a Go

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Blackjack!

Videocart-3   NOTE: I hope I'm not risking the ruining of an illusion for some of you, but I'm not, actually, playing each of these games on the day that I write about them. In some cases, like for most of the Fairchild and RCA Studio II games coming up, I played them at the very beginning of the summer. So long ago, in fact, that I had even forgotten that I had taken notes after we had played them. I found the notes today and realized that in some instances they won't offer me much help. Here

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Der Wustenfuchs

Videocart-2 for the VES is perplexing.   It contains two games: Desert Fox and Shooting Gallery.   But wait, didn't Videocart-1 also contain Shooting Gallery? Is this a sequel?   No, it's the same damn Shooting Gallery. Yesterday, I rated it a "Good". Today I'm going to rate it a "Good, WTF?"   The other game is Desert Fox.     I consider Desert Fox a lame attempt at imitating the Tank arcade games which had opened up new possibilities in the arcade market by stepping away from the

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Videocart-1 Tic-Tac-DOH!

Moving on to the cartridges available for the Fairchild VES in 1976.   Carts 1, 2 and 3. That's "it", I think.   I am not certain as to when these carts became available. They have a 1976 copyright on them so I'm assuming they came out that year. Since the Fairchild VES came out in August (according to Phoenix: The Fall and Rise of Videogames.) I'm going to have to say the following blogs take place during and between August 1976 and December 1976.   Videocart-1   I won't do this all of

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Fairchild VES

Remember, we are pretending it's 1976. August, to be more precise.   It's been roughly three years since you've played with your original Odyssey. It's been about a year since Sears Tele-games introduced PONG to the world. Since then there's been nothing out but an endless string of dedicated consoles all playing variation of PONG, mostly Hockey, Tennis and Handball (though Handball is usually under a different name, like Smash or Jai-lai.)   Let's face it. If you're a gamer from the future,

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Adversary - National Semiconductor

Yesterday I did write "National Instruments" but what I should have written was "National Semiconductor". I could go back and correct it in each of the entries in which I make this error, but I've decided not to because it would represent a larger waste of time than this paragraph apologizing for it. So, sorry about that.   Okay, this is a dedicated Pong clone. The Adversary, by National Semiconductor, is a lovely little console, resplendent in the faux woodgrain decor previously reserved for

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Odyssey 400, the other white one . . .

When my camera is back from "vacation" I'll take some pics and post them.   August 22 EDIT: My camera is back here are the promised pics.     The Odyssey 400 is three, three, three games in one console! Smash, Tennis and Hockey. This unit feels like it's going backwards from the Odyssey 300. Once again, there are three knob controllers for each person (like the Odyssey 100). Once again, each player has to control the trajectory of the ball after it deflects from their paddle. Different fr

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Odyssey 300, the Yellow one

The Odyssey 300 is near and dear to my heart.   My maternal grandmother gave one to my family for Xmas of 1976. I remember that any occasion any family members visited for a few days (we lived a four hour's drive away from everyone) there was an Odyssey Tournament in there somewhere.   On the outside, at first glance, the Odyssey looks like its previous brethren, the 100 and 200. A careful observer will notice only one knob per player. This Odyssey actually handled the deflection and "englis

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1976 Dawn of the Cartridge Age!

Actually, it wasn't until August 1976 that the Fairchild Video Entertainment System came into existence. So we've got some other ground to cover until then.   First of all, let's list the dedicated PONG machines:   In the PBS version of this blog, which is now airing in a few select viewing areas, this scene occurs in episode four.   I start reciting the list of different PONG systems available during the great PONG Rush of 1976. Every time I say the name of another dedicated PONG machine,

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1975 Hashed plus Atari Tourney

Okay, 1975 stuff, almost as an after thought, but I'll put it first because it is short.   Sears Telegames PONG by Atari Magnavox Odyssey 100 Magnavox Odyssey 200   And that's IT. If you wanted to play video games you were going to get most of your action outside of the home at the arcades.   Someday, when I play a Sears Telegames PONG unit or a Magnavox Odyssey 200, I will record them on their appropriate days.   Atari 2600 Tourney at Alamo Drafthouse Austin Downtown   Well, last

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Odyssey 200, well, not really.

Yay! With superb timing I happen to know exactly where I'll be able to play an original Atari PONG game console tonight! Alamo Drafthouse Downtown, here in Austin, TX is having a little Atari Tourney and there's going to be one there. $5 at the door. Whoo wee! That's less than shipping would cost for a PONG unit.   Of course, Atari PONG didn't come out until 1976. It was Sears Telegames PONG that came out in 1975. I'm not going to quibble over this distinction.   In fact, I'm not going to wo

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An Odyssey Reborn

Welcome to the era of the dedicated Pong machine. It's a mercifully short era, over most of which I shall skip.   Before we talk about the first 1975 Odyssey, I must tell you there is another 1975 Odyssey: The Magnavox Odyssey 200. Apparently it is a different color than the one we are about to discuss. Dang, I guess I'll have to find one of those now, too.   The Magnavox Odyssey 100 is a garishly orange, slightly sleeker looking version of the original Magnavox Odyssey. (The original is pic

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With a PONG in my heart.

Did you ever think about the fact that people who are talking to themselves may actually be listening to themselves instead? This is a placeholder entry for when I actually get an Atari PONG console.   When I have one. I'll come back here and describe the crazy PONG games my family and I played. The PONG tourneys. The PONG-offs. The PONG-downs. The PONGathons.   What this says is that I'm willing to play OUT of order. I'm NOT obsessed with my crusade. I can live a happy normal life and still

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I have no PONG and I must scream . . .

Two Home Videogames for 1975:   Atari PONG (aka Sears Tele-Games PONG) Magnavox Odyssey 100   Sadly, I do not have Atari PONG yet. I wasn't intending to include it as part of the chronology (prefering to stick to programmable consoles) but I've changed my mind as it's too important to just skip over.   I actually HAVE a Magnavox Odyssey 100 so I can talk about that one, but it's not its turn yet.   So, I'm going to skip a day or two (maybe make a place holder?) and leave space for Atari

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