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Exponential Odyssey



Okay, remember the Odyssey? The one with the Überlays? Well, it had a sequel. The Odyssey^2 as in "Odyssey to the second power" or "Odyssey Squared" or "Odyssey times Odyssey" . . . I guess they named it that because there was also the Odyssey 100, Odyssey 200, Odyssey 300, Odyssey 400, Odyssey 500 as well as an Odyssey 3000, 4000 and 5000. I'm sure I'm forgetting some but I think you see where I'm driving. Why go linear when you can go exponential?


I think exponential was the smart way to go. It was an original twist and didn't involve just making a number bigger. It was saying that the very idea was bigger, more fleshed out, taken to the next dimension, as it were.


Probably the most stand-out, unique and beautiful thing about the Odyssey^2 is the fact it comes with a keyboard. The keyboard is an integrated part of it and nigh-unremovable. Not the easiest of keyboards to use, given its flat keys, but a full keyboard, none-the-less. In fact, even though it is not a game, I'll do my best to learn a little bit about programming the Odyssey^2 when Computer Intro (1979) becomes available. That's probably what I would've done back in the day if I'd gotten it for Christmas instead of Basic Programming for the VCS. (Jesus Crotch! What a disappointment!)


A great and powerful website about the Odyssey^2 is The Odyssey2 Homepage:The Odyssey2 Homepage (EDIT in 2021... not there anymore?)


I encourage everyone to visit the site and soak in all the information they can. It will make you better citizens and help you to live fuller richer lives.


Information that I can't seem to find often enough are the release dates for the games. This is either something that is "hard to know" or something "no one really cares to know". Somewhere in the past year of preparing for 1978 (I'm only "prepared" up to and including 1979, by the way.) I made a list of games playable from 1978. I usually post these sorts of lists at the beginning of the year. Since I started 1978 in October of 2005, here's a refresher of what I think I should be playing for 1978 on the Odyssey^2:


Armored Encounter / Subchase

BaseballBowling / Basketball

Computer Golf

Cosmic Conflict


Las Vegas BlackJack

Matchmaker / Buzzword / Logix

Math-A-Magic / Echo

Speedway / Spin-out / Crypto-Logic


An earlier version of this list had included Take the Money and Run, which I've since discovered didn't come out until 1982. It has been stricken from the chronology until such time as appropriate. As of 1978, the title Take the Money and Run was only a Woody Allen movie, a Steve Miller song and probably a popular expression.


I think my conclusion that those games were released in 1978 is based on the copyright year in their manuals. I dunno, I made this list a while back. I'll be rechecking that as I go, but really, copyright date is not the most reliable way of doing it. Case in point: some games on the Bally Pro Arcade have a copyright of 1977, the year before the Bally even came out!


I'm trying not to be too anal about this. I know it's just a meta-game. However, under the rules of Chronogaming, playing a game too far before the year it was published in the chronology being used can disrupt the fabric of SpaceTime. I'm sure none of you would want that to happen. So, for the love of Sagan: if you see something listed on there that didn't come out until *gasp* 1979 or later, please speak up. Likewise, if there's something you know that came out in 1978 and is missing.


Well, what else can I say about the Odyssey^2? I think something that is notable is that the console itself has built-in graphic sets which the programmers can use. For what it's worth, it does provide a certain consistency of "look and feel" to the software library. Another very consistent "look and feel" is the box/manual and cartridge art. When you get a lot of Odyssey titles in one place they all look like part of the same family. Yeah, Atari VCS does that for awhile, but its longevity insured it would see several design revisions, while the Odyssey^2 remained relatively unchanged throughout its career. (Yeah, I'm speaking out of the context of being trapped in 1978 for the purposes of exposition. )


As is the tradition, I'll start with the pack-in game next entry.


Oh, and if anybody cares, I've started up my crappy little website:


Chronogamer (EDIT in 2021: No, it doesn't exist.) which is really just these blogs being "rebroadcast" in non-blog form. Yeah, it's an ugly website, but it's not always a pretty subject, either.


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The superscript thingie for the cartridge-based Odyssey seems reasonable, given the existence of other numbered Odyssey units. I don't know how better to indicate that this one was something far beyond anything Magnavox et al. had done before. Indeed, it brought a new 'dimension' to gaming.

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I've finally got to the Odyssey 2 in my own chronogaming! Woohoo!!!


It took me a while to get here, as I ended up going through a system that you skipped for some reason: the Interton VC 4000 (and its family of similar systems). It was also released in 1978, so I decided to focus on it before starting the Odyssey 2. It took me a while to go through it because it's nearly impossible to tell when its games were released. There's not even a copyright notice in the game boxes nor in the manuals! I spent quite some time searching for more information, but everyone simply lists all 37 games as having been released in 1978 - which is impossible. Not just because it's way too many games, but also because there are some Space Invaders and Pac-Man clones in the lot. So, yeah, I played nearly all the 37 games - the ones I got to work on an emulator. It felt kind of lonely not to have your blog keeping me company!


Ok, the Odyssey 2. I guess the superscript idea isn't bad, but personally I would have gone for something different, instead of a number. The Super Odyssey, or the Odyssey VCS (just to piss off the competition). Or a whole new name, as the original Odyssey by this time was something everyone had already forgotten anyway.


The keyboard surprised me. I didn't recall it had one. Not that I ever played on an Odyssey 2, but I didn't recall the keyboard from the pictures I had seen. Weird.


Oh, the links above don't work. I wonder if the Odyssey 2 page you were referring to is this one: http://www.the-nextlevel.com/odyssey2/.


Anyway, on to the games! :D

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On 11/15/2012 at 10:09 PM, Nelio said:

I've finally got to the Odyssey 2 in my own chronogaming! Woohoo!!!


It took me a while to get here, as I ended up going through a system that you skipped for some reason: the Interton VC 4000 (and its family of similar systems). It was also released in 1978, so I decided to focus on it before starting the Odyssey 2.



I vaguely remember reading about the Interton VC 4000 and I think I'd come up with a reason why I didn't feel I needed to include it. I don't remember what that reason was, but the only thing I can think of at this point was that I must've thought it was something I'd have never seen in the US back in 1978.

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