Let's get this out of the way: I'M LONGWINDED! It's probably one of the many reasons I'm not a professional writer along with reasons like NOT being able to write about INTERESTING things, NOT being able to spell worth a damn and NOT caring (too much) about whether or not what I say makes ANY sense.
*ahem* Okay, we're stranded at the beginning of 1973 having only the videogames released prior to that year for entertainment OR we can watch Ultraman. (Notice I picked a show which actually has a chance of losing against the Odyssey? If I had picked Star Trek: The Original Series there'd be no contest.) Before I get started on this, I should define some terms.
Odyssey is a simple beast of a system, by the standards we have here in the relative future. It broadcasts five "spots" to your TV: a PlayerOne Spot, a PlayerTwo Spot, a Ball Spot and a Line Spot. It also generates a Big Black Background Spot which everyone forgets about because they fail to notice that they are staring right at it! (something to do with background/foreground distinction, but I digress) When I talk about PlayerOne Spot, I'm referring to the "paddle" controlled by the PlayerOne (Left) Controller and I'll let you figure out the corollary statement for the PlayerTwo Spot. Odyssey also uses "Overlays" to create vibrant color on, er, in front of your TV set. They are pieces of cellophane that cling to the TV under the power of Static Electricity!!! I like to call them Überlays because it sounds naughty and exciting.
So without further delay . . .Table Tennis - The Basic Odyssey Game!™ Table Tennis uses both Player Spots, Ball Spot and Line Spot. It is the ONLY Odyssey game that uses Cart #1. It uses NO Overlay. Two players only. No automatic scorekeeping, no sound, no lights, no motorcar -- not a single luxury! In May of 1972, it was the only videogame system in town for 99.999% of the world's savage, primitive, 70s impaired population. (The other .001% had played Computer Space some time during 1971 but had been too drunk at the time to enjoy or remember it.)
Table Tennis was designed to help proud new Odyssey owners learn how to manipulate the paddle systems of the Odyssey. Two controllers come with the system. They are little white boxes with knobs on the right and left sides. One knob controls horizontal movement of the Player Spot and the other vertical movement of the Player Spot. In the center of the left knob is another knob which controls the "ENGLISH" of the Ball Spot. I think "ENGLISH" refers to something in the real-world game of billiards that governs how a ball's trajectory curves due to its spin. This "ENGLISH" control allows a player to control the trajectory of the Ball Spot after deflecting it with the Player Spot.
The Odyssey Manual always capitalizes the word "ENGLISH" so forgive me for shouting it.
The players keep score and take turns serving by switching every five points (just like the game in real-life!). A player serves by pressing a reset button on the top of the box. It's the only button but they labeled it RESET for you anyway, just in case you weren't able to find it. After serving, the server wiggles the "ENGLISH" control to try to get the ball past the opponent's Player Spot. This is very UN-like real-life! When the receiver hits the Ball Spot, they take control of the ENGLISH of the Ball Spot and send it to the other side trying to swerve and dodge the Player Spot of their opponent. The game becomes a drunken, wiggly, swervy mess with the Ball Spot careening back and forth across the screen.
My seven year old son and I were only able to make it up to a score of 15-12 before he said, "This is a crap game from hell!™ I want to go back to 2005 where I can play Super Smash Bros Melee on the 'Cube!"
Well, one must imagine what this Table Tennis game would've been like when there was nothing else on TV. A novelty? ABSOLUTELY! Worth playing even if it meant missing HR Puffinstuff? DEFINITELY MAYBE! Worth playing if it meant missing Ultraman? NO EFFING WAY!!! I SO would've turned off Table Tennis to watch Ultraman!!!
In the spirit of the Odyssey, we'll keep score ourselves:The Score is . . . Ultraman: 1, Odyssey: 0! Uh, unless by your comments you decide to overrule that decision. Then if I ever publish this in treemeat format, I'll list the dissenting votes.
I'll continue this exercise in drooling self-delusion tomorrow with: Tennis! We get to use an Überlay for this one! Yay!