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Every game. Chronologically.

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1974 Home Video Games

THERE ARE NONE!   Zip! Zilch! Zippo! The Big Goose Egg! Empty City! ZERO!   Since this blog is just dealing with HOME videogames, specifically, games one plays on their TV, in their home, I've really got very little to say about 1974 as no new home videogames come out in 1974.   Let's imagine that for a few minutes shall we?   Do you remember, towards the end of the last millenium, what Summertime used to be like for our dear hobby/lifestyle?   Dead. Very few games came out in the Summ

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1973 End of an Odyssey

1973 is in our retro-view mirror!   Only four games   W.I.N Interplanetary Voyage Brain Wave Basketball   Something which I forgot to demonstrate about Interplanetary Voyage that I thought was pretty neato.   In the second game in the manual, "University of the Solar System", you draw cards to answer questions about the Solar System. Here is an example:   The interesting thing about this card, is that the answer isn't on it. Anywhere. See the little triangle/arrow in the m

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Hoops

Basketball, the game where gravity goes sideways.   This game is, surprisingly, very fun. First you have to turn your gravitational perceptions to the side. See the Überlay? Okay, see the left side of the Überlay? Okay, good. That's the floor. Yeah. No, really! STOP LAUGHING!   So, the two player spots, remember, we call them Player One Spot and Player Two Spot, they start the game off at center court. The reset button is pressed and the basketball comes soaring in from off-screen right. I

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Brain Tsunami

So, why are these two staring so intently at that vase in the middle?   Brain Wave seems like a complicated mess at frist glance. There is a pile of about 90 little cardboard squares to be used (thought tiles), little cardboard holders (memory banks) for the squares (similar to Scrabble), a gameboard and two little cardboard rectangles (power markers) with holes in them for keeping track of spending Brain Power Points. After a little bit of a learning curve for me, and a little bit of a teachi

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Bon Voyage!

Isn't that a pretty Überlay? Well, I think so, too.   Sorry, this is a long one! I originally wrote it for a post at Digital Press which had only 49 views and 1 reply before I let it slip in to the oblivion of the archives. *sniff*. I learned my lesson: Forums are for conversation, not essays. Blogs are for long babbling kook-talk and that's the way I like it!   There are two games described by the manual for Interplanetary Voyage. The second game in the manual is called "Uni

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A W.I.N.ner is You!

W.I.N. stands for Word, Image, Number. The object of this game is to construct words, images and numbers drawn from a deck of cards using the elements on the Überlay. To claim an element for use in your assembly, you have to move the Spot while it is invisible to an element you can use.   The Player Spot starts out in the blank square at the bottom center of the screen (near the scientist). You hit the reset button on the controller and the Spot disappears. You then manipulate the controls unt

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1973 Introductions

Breaking format before I start talking about each of the 1973 games.   There's a really excellent thread over at the Digital Press forums and I highly recommend it to anyone who is remotely interested in the original Odyssey.   Go to it here.   The discussion was started by a man named Don Emry and, according to him, he was the designer for three of the 1973 Odyssey games. (not that I don't believe him, I just thought I should be specific about my source.) Here are some of what I consider

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Überview, 1972

In 1972 there was only one system: Odyssey by Magnavox   There were a total of 23 games released for that system during 1972 as far as I can tell. They were released in three groups:   12 with the Main Console plus 1 free game by registering your console. 4 with the Shooting Gallery add-on accessory 6 released for individual purchase or as a set of six.   I'm emoticoning these for future reference. The emoticon "system" is different from the Vs. Ultraman "system" and is just shorthand fo

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A Ball in the Hand

A few words about the term "Crap Game from Hell".   While I was cajoling my son into playing Handball with me, I billed it as the "Last Crap Game from Hell from 1972!!!" This term isn't meant to malign the Odyssey or its games. It rather serves as a warning to my son that the game I'm asking him to play isn't going to be easy to enjoy, but that I need him to do his best for me. We tend to enjoy these old games a lot more when we expect that they are going to be hard to enjoy. Calling them "Cra

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Xtreme Square Volleyball

Forward to present day (2005, to those of you reading this in some 25th century museum/blog-vault), videogame volleyball will/has evolve/evolved into poly-polygonal, progressively scanned-tily clad women bouncing around on exotic beaches and buying each other cute gifts. Back here in 1972/73, where I am, Volleyball for the Odyssey is the primordial soup of videogame volleyball. Don't forget, those little figures on the Überlay are static; frozen eternally in those positions. The only movement on

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Racing's Ur Game.

Wipeout was the first home video game racing simulation. I'm pretty certain of this.   Player Spot One, the Driver, races around while the other player spot sits perched on that left icon which looks like a clock. While The Driver follows the convoluted path of the Überlay track, Player Two, The Timer, is hitting the reset button on the Driver's controller to send the Ball Spot from the right side to the left side to bounce off the Player Spot on the clock icon. This oscillating Ball Spot acts

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Invasive

Invasion! It's not Risk, but it tries to be!   The world is a small map with 12 territories each containing a castle. Surrounding the land portion of the map is an ocean perimeter. The land part of the world gets divided up and everyone gets an equal number of castles. The object of the game is to take over everyone else's castles using your armies. You can attack any castle if it is immediately adjacent to one of your castles. After capturing a castle you get to draw a loot card which gives y

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bery, bery good to me

Baseball. In the real world this game was what America's "pass-time" used to be. Back before videogames.   Like Odyssey's Football, this game is asking you to pretend that you are playing a simulation of the game of baseball, however, this game takes one step towards being cooler than the Odyssey's attempt at a football sim: This game introduces Player Stats. Ooooo! It's probably the first example of persistent player stats in a home video game.   When selecting your team, a

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Fun Tzu

I never noticed before that Fun Zoo kinda rhymes with Sun Tzu so I've gone a little nuts with it. Please accept my apologies.   Ponder and deliberate before you make a move. -Sun Tzu, The Art of War   Fun Tzu is an enjoyable game aimed at younger players to help them identify the written names of animals with their illustrations, improve hand-eye coordination through the use of the Odyssey controllers and employ morale crushing stratagems designed to annhilate the enemy's will to wage war.

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PER-cepts, not PRE-cepts

I can't believe I almost forgot about Percepts!   Percepts was the free Odyssey game you got for registering your Odyssey. You know the drill, you fill out a little slip of paper and mail it in to Magnavox. They get your personal information for nefarious marketing purposes and you get a free game. Not a bad deal!   This game would fall into the "Simon Says" category in that you must determine where to go on the screen and get there before your opponent does. It also uses cards. Percepts com

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Gallery of things to Shoot

Shooting Gallery turns out to be the coolest game from the group of Shooting Gallery games. It uses a different cart (#10), which makes the playfield very different from the other three games (which use cart #9). This configuration gives you two paddles between which you deflect your target. The target, in this case, is a relatively HUGE square. I didn't know the Odyssey could produce such a large, er, "sprite"! (of course, they don't call them sprites yet.)   This large square Target Spot goe

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Dogfight!

EDIT ON: I should note, that when I heard the title of this game for the first time, without having seen the overlay nor knowing it was in Shooting Gallery, I actually thought it would be about dogs fighting. I'm glad I was wrong. No, really.   Whaaat!?   Well, okay, so I really wish it had been about dogs fighting. That would've been so frickin' barbaric I honestly would've loved it. /EDIT OFF   My son and I played Dogfight the other night. The playfield consists of a path through which

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Video Homicide is Born!

Above is the Überlay from Shootout. Shootout involves moving your little white square from window to window (starting at the upper left to the upper right, cross the street to the lower right then make your way to the lower left) while your friend, parent, spouse, offspring or other loved one tries to shoot you. The person playing the "outlaw" who sneaks from window to window, can't just zip through the window at a blinding speed. The "outlaw" has to stop in the window long enough to say "You'll

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Sounds Like Thunder, Tastes Like Chicken

Prehistoric Safari   Shooting Gallery is a kick-ass add-on to the Magnavox Odyssey. There are four games in the add-on, each with it's own Überlay. Three of the games use game cart #9 and the fourth uses #10. The add-on comes in its own box with a GUN! A realistic looking gun! The kind that will get you playfully blown away if you playfully aim it at an officer of the law. So, uh, DON'T do that, 'kay kids?   In Prehistoric Safari, you have the gun, you are the Mighty Hunter,

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Brief Rehash

Okay, I've played through the original 12 home video games for the Magnavox Odyssey. There are different ways of classifying them, but I'm going to stick to the simplest: by Video Gameplay. Other than Tennis which begets PONG, these games really can't be considered to have established any genres by themselves. I could classify them into the genre's as we know them in 2005 (as I've more or less been doing) but if I were staring at them in 1972/73 having never seen another home video game but for

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Simon Says

Simon Says . . . Simon Says . . . I just know there was a cartoon that had a villain who used to say "Simon Says (insert victimization statement here like 'Freeze!')" Was it Super Friends? Underdog? It was some weird-ass Hanna Barbaric entertainment. I just can't remember.   Anyway, I was unable to bribe my son into playing this game with me, but since there is a kitty cat on the Überlay I was able to get my three year old daughter to want to play it. Now if only she'd stop wanting to play it.

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Early Edutainment

States (Magnavox Odyssey, 1972)   The overlay is a map of the USA. There are 50 cards, each highlighting a specific state with three questions about the state. There's an answer brochure ("Affairs of States") and what can best be described as a paper version of the overlay. They refer to it as a "study map", but it reminds me of a place mat they give my kids to color when we eat at a diner.   The questions are cute and range from little rhymes to help your memory with learning the captials t

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Place your bets!

This is the Odyssey's version of Roulette and it isn't the relatively fun kind of Roulette where you use guns and risk killing yourself.   The game uses a gameboard with a Roulette betting table on it. It uses what everyone calls "poker chips". Since there is no poker game on the Odyssey, we'll just call them chips. There's also a big wad of cash to use. The game involves the BANKER handing a controller to a blindfolded or eyes-closed player, and having them "flip" the knobs on the controller.

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Illogical

Analogic.   This is the first entry in the genre of "early math games that videogame makers thought had to be included to give their system an educational appeal." All of the early systems had at least one of these types of games. It impressed me that the Odyssey, an analog system that doesn't do math, would introduce this form of edutainment. Their flavoring of it is also ambitious. Analogic could also be considered the first Science Fiction themed home video game.   The Überlay consists of

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First Home Adventure

Haunted House! The thumbnail on the bottom is a shot of the same overlay with all of the transparent stuff cut out.   EDIT: I forgot to say why I thought this qualified as the first home adventure game. Your mileage may vary. Unlike the other games that came with the Odyssey console, Haunted House has many traits of an "adventure" genre game in a prototypical state. It gives the player a tangible setting through which to wander; items to find and "pick up"; and a role to play, that of the Dete

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