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Odyssey 2: Under Appreciated?


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The Odyssey 2 was my first complete set of games.  I really enjoyed the simplicity and arcade style games it had.  Pic Axe Pete, K.C. Muchkin, Freedom Fighters, Turtles, and Smithereens were favorites.  The homebrew market has been fun to collect too.    Agree that the US market was limited, but is nice to have a small selection of games to focus on and play.  

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have one. Saw a boxed one in a thrift years back pretty cheap so I bought it. I had a friend who had one and we played K.C. Munchkin for hours. Otherwise, the console sort of sucked and doesn't really interest me. I have a bunch of carts, including Both KC's.

One thing I noticed is that BOXED O2 and Intellivision consoles seem to be much more common than Atari consoles. Even the carts. It's like people regarded them better back in the day.

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It has a certain charm that may be lost on someone who never played it back in the 70's. And yes, they do always seem to be boxed. Isn't that odd? Maybe it's because the packaging is glossy and fancy, so people didn't throw them away? At least with the cartridges, it is sort of a case, unlike Atari games.

 

That leads me to a really odd realization. I have dated more than a couple girls/women who had Odyssey 2's as a child. This includes my wife.. and I inherited the system from her parents.

 

It seems strange that I attracted, or was attracted to, former Odyssey 2 owners. I never had one- My first "game machine" was a Radio Shack Pong clone, then a VIC-20. :)

 

Edited by R.Cade
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13 hours ago, Zonie said:

One thing I noticed is that BOXED O2 and Intellivision consoles seem to be much more common than Atari consoles. Even the carts. It's like people regarded them better back in the day.

 

Possibly, but Odyssey2 boxes were apparently made out of material that could withstand being on the surface of the sun.  Mine's 42 years old and while it shows some of the signs of its age, it's pretty much indestructible.

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  • 1 month later...

I bought my 2600 when I was 11.  I have older sisters that were married, so I had brother-in-laws and they loved my Atari.

My one brother-in-law decided he was finally going to take the plunge and buy his own Atari system and asked me to go along to the mall with him.  There was this cool dark edgy stereo store called Playback that we went to and the game systems were in the back.  2600 was $199, Intellivision was something my $249 and then there was the Odyssey 2 for $179, and that price caught his eye.  In addition to the cheaper price, the salesman told him he could choose 3 free games of his choice and that sealed the deal.  I didn't know anyone who owned the system, had a bad gut feeling about it and tried talking him out of it, but it didn't do any good.  Total of 4 games with the pack in, fancy looking joysticks and an impressive keyboard...I was having seconds thoughts that this thing may be better than my Atari. :ponder:

 

He liked it, as did my nephew (just 4 years younger than me and like a kid brother).  I noticed right away that all the games were borrowing from a fixed character set and the sounds were limited.  Alien Invaders Plus was one of the games he chose, it was good, but nowhere near as good as 2600 Space Invaders.  Games like Bowling/Baskeball were just sad, yet football was way better than the initial 2600 version.

 

Then came the day he bought KC Munchkin (while the Atari world was still waiting in anticipation for Pac-Man to be released).  Till today, KC Munchkin is in my top 5 favorite video games.  Fast action, cute animated Munchkin, great sound, no flicker, moving dots, multiple mazes AND you can create your own mazes! :-o

Months later 2600 Pac-Man comes out and I was ready as I had the money saved up.  Bought it on release day and was so disappointed.  If it weren't for the box and manual showing the game screen, I would have thought I bought a broken game.

 

Then he got another phenomenal game called UFO.  Not only could I shoot the UFOs, but I also had shields that allowed me ram them.  UFOs combine and can track you.  Then the killer chain reaction domino effect of exploding UFOs.  Screw Asteroids, this game upped it 10X over.

 

Pick Axe Pete is another awesome game that I found fun and highly addictive.  Attack of the Timelord might be a bit better than Astrosmash, and Freedom Fighters was also fun.

 

For me, the system has nostalgia because I played the heck out of it bitd and the games I mentioned above make it worth owning.  Back in the 90s when thrift stores were full of 2600, 5200, Intellivision and Colecovision consoles, the O2 was almost non existent, and the few I found were roach motels.  About 20 years ago I picked one up on eBay for next to nothing and it included The Voice.  Yeah, a voice module is also something I always wanted for my 2600 back then and it never happened.

 

Of course the O2 was never any competition for the 2600, but it's far from a worthless system that many make it out to be.

 

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BITD I had VCS, Intellivision, and Odyssey2 as my first cartridge consoles. Played them all about 40/40/20 respectively. Enjoyed the Odysssey for what it was. We were way too young to appreciate the engineering features and tradeoffs that were present in these old consoles. But we tried.

 

Our childish engineering analysis consisted of cracking open a given console and checking to see how many big(40), medium(24-28), small(14-18), and tiny(8) chips there were. We'd count the number of chips and the number of pins and plug it into this elaborate BASIC program which gave us a ranking of how smart the console was. A relative ranking if multiple consoles were evaluated at once.

 

I only disliked the cart boxes. Had too many "!" in the descriptions. And the artwork was loud with the same color scheme from box to box. Whereas Intv and VCS boxes were color coded and it was easy to find the "red box" for Space Battle or Combat. Same applied to the cartridge labels.

 

O2 had a place in our electronic gaming experiences. And we loved its futuristic look.

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  • 2 years later...
On 5/10/2006 at 10:40 PM, Tempest said:

The O2 had potential, but it was ultimately doomed because of its clunky looking internal character set. I call this the Intellivision Syndrome. When consoles are forced to rely on their internal character sets for graphics, games start looking odd and very similar. Sometimes this isn't a problem (all the Intellivision sports games used the running man, but they looked good), but when you start trying to do things like arcade ports you start running into problems. Is it an arrow? Is it a tree? Is it a mushroom? Is it a space ship? When you're only using the internal character set, the answer to these questions is "Yes".

 

The O2 also had a problem with lack of support. They had one main programmer and 3 or 4 secondary programmers. They had to churn out all the games for the O2 since it never had third party support except at the very end of its lifespan. I've always wondered what the O2 could have done with more programmers and more support. I don't think the games could ever get to to the level of the later 2600 games, but it probably could have been on par with the graphics from the 81-82 games rather than the 78-80 games.

no joke it was a doomed system to begin with also since it was infirior to the atari 2600 hardware wise🥲

On 5/10/2006 at 10:40 PM, Tempest said:

 

Edited by johannesmutlu
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On 5/10/2006 at 10:40 PM, Tempest said:

The O2 had potential, but it was ultimately doomed because of its clunky looking internal character set. I call this the Intellivision Syndrome. When consoles are forced to rely on their internal character sets for graphics, games start looking odd and very similar. Sometimes this isn't a problem (all the Intellivision sports games used the running man, but they looked good), but when you start trying to do things like arcade ports you start running into problems. Is it an arrow? Is it a tree? Is it a mushroom? Is it a space ship? When you're only using the internal character set, the answer to these questions is "Yes".

 

The O2 also had a problem with lack of support. They had one main programmer and 3 or 4 secondary programmers. They had to churn out all the games for the O2 since it never had third party support except at the very end of its lifespan. I've always wondered what the O2 could have done with more programmers and more support. I don't think the games could ever get to to the level of the later 2600 games, but it probably could have been on par with the graphics from the 81-82 games rather than the 78-80 games.

 

Tempest

/magnovox/philips should,ve never decided to implement a limited character set inside the odyssey2 but if they wanted per se a character set builtin,then they should,ve added a free mode option to allow game developers costumize their own tile sets for their games,wich they sadly just didn’t🥲

Edited by johannesmutlu
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On 5/10/2006 at 10:40 PM, Tempest said:

The O2 had potential, but it was ultimately doomed because of its clunky looking internal character set. I call this the Intellivision Syndrome. When consoles are forced to rely on their internal character sets for graphics, games start looking odd and very similar. Sometimes this isn't a problem (all the Intellivision sports games used the running man, but they looked good), but when you start trying to do things like arcade ports you start running into problems. Is it an arrow? Is it a tree? Is it a mushroom? Is it a space ship? When you're only using the internal character set, the answer to these questions is "Yes".

 

The O2 also had a problem with lack of support. They had one main programmer and 3 or 4 secondary programmers. They had to churn out all the games for the O2 since it never had third party support except at the very end of its lifespan. I've always wondered what the O2 could have done with more programmers and more support. I don't think the games could ever get to to the level of the later 2600 games, but it probably could have been on par with the graphics from the 81-82 games rather than the 78-80 games.

 

Tempest

now while the intelevision also did had it’s builtin character set called Grom,BUT game game developers were still allowed to create their own characters if they wanted that,unlike with the odyssey 2🥲

Edited by johannesmutlu
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On 5/10/2006 at 10:40 PM, Tempest said:

The O2 had potential, but it was ultimately doomed because of its clunky looking internal character set. I call this the Intellivision Syndrome. When consoles are forced to rely on their internal character sets for graphics, games start looking odd and very similar. Sometimes this isn't a problem (all the Intellivision sports games used the running man, but they looked good), but when you start trying to do things like arcade ports you start running into problems. Is it an arrow? Is it a tree? Is it a mushroom? Is it a space ship? When you're only using the internal character set, the answer to these questions is "Yes".

 

The O2 also had a problem with lack of support. They had one main programmer and 3 or 4 secondary programmers. They had to churn out all the games for the O2 since it never had third party support except at the very end of its lifespan. I've always wondered what the O2 could have done with more programmers and more support. I don't think the games could ever get to to the level of the later 2600 games, but it probably could have been on par with the graphics from the 81-82 games rather than the 78-80 games.

 

Tempest

The O2 was doomed from the start because of it’s builtin and restricted 64 character set,second problem is that for backgrounds those tile sets are NOT allowed to be overlapped on top of each other,no scaling in or out,no flipping,no rotation,,no splitting, it’s very FRUSTRATING those limitations,otherwise game developers could,ve make the most out of it to construct their own tile sets that way,

sprites however are allowed to by overlapped on top of each other and with that in mind,we might IN THEORY could use that dot tile (tile 27) to create all kinds of shaped sprites we want,by placing that dot tile next,above or below each other,for our shaped sprite to be rotated or flipped we should reverse the commando signal,

now if we want to simulated a background with our desired design,we might could IN THEORY use several sprites and alternate between each per frame ,then use and overlap that dot tile 27 next to each other as for each different sprite to fake a background,sure this will result in flicker but it should give game developers current homebrewers waaay more freedom te create their own tile sets from that dot tile,so while it is true that the   O2 videochip cannot access external tile sets from games,but sending sending different commando signals to that videochip,we might can tell it how to create new sprite tile sets from that pressumible flexible dot tile instead to hopefully get around those limitations,now some homebrewer need to step up and figure out if these ideas are feasible or not but am very curious about these theories,

if those tricks are possible (even if that will require an external processor),i will gonna be realky excited for it,because imagine the possibilities,my wet dream would be to see pac man,enhanced popeye,donkeykong, etc,,, on the O2 with graphics close as possible to the arcade version along with all the levels etc,, and off course a option to put in your name on the high score screen,

here are some images i created to illustrate what i mean,

off course we shouldn’t forget bankswitching internally & externally to allow such large games on the O2, 

yes i posted similar things about it in other similar topics about it,but i really want to see the O2 homebrew scene will grow exponentially and hopefully more homebrewers will investigate and try out those theories of ideas and see if these are indeed possible or not on the O2,and who ever knows what can be done one that hardware,because the O2 just deserves more attention then it ever did aslong we can break those graphical boundaries in some ways or another with those mentioned tricks in mind😁

9B600C51-C0DF-40FD-8C7A-5C29FAF95266.jpeg

AB22B57E-8A03-4655-92EB-451C62FFDBA4.jpeg

93183168-A8BF-485F-8398-4E326BECC82E.jpeg

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18 hours ago, johannesmutlu said:

/magnovox/philips should,ve never decided to implement a limited character set inside the odyssey2 but if they wanted per se a character set builtin,then they should,ve added a free mode option to allow game developers costumize their own tile sets for their games,wich they sadly just didn’t🥲

 

It's easy to say this in hindsight, but at the time their design decision probably made more sense. This system went into development in probably early 1977 if not late 1976. The console industry, including Magnavox's own products, was all dedicated consoles playing pretty simple games and the 2600 was still close to a year away from release. The O2 even with it's limitations, was a major leap forward for their product line. 

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1 hour ago, DanBoris said:

 

It's easy to say this in hindsight, but at the time their design decision probably made more sense. This system went into development in probably early 1977 if not late 1976. The console industry, including Magnavox's own products, was all dedicated consoles playing pretty simple games and the 2600 was still close to a year away from release. The O2 even with it's limitations, was a major leap forward for their product line. 

It was. Forward for it’s time with it’s builtin keyboard along with education stuff in mind aside from being a game console,BUT personally they should,ve added atleast a bitmap mode sothat that dot tile 27 could,ve be placed next to each other to create your own background that way just like the commodore pet or trs80 etc,,,,

it’s just too bad that there isn’t any free mode like the intelevision does have,

now if we ever want to the O2 into a serious business computer system,well how about a word prpgram wich you could save,store and print stuff with it just like ms basic for the videopac+ BUT in this case for the O2 to do more with it then only playing games or doing educational stuff with it because it derserve it,so let’s just hope for more😁

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1 hour ago, johannesmutlu said:

It was. Forward for it’s time with it’s builtin keyboard along with education stuff in mind aside from being a game console,BUT personally they should,ve added atleast a bitmap mode sothat that dot tile 27 could,ve be placed next to each other to create your own background that way just like the commodore pet or trs80 etc,,,,

it’s just too bad that there isn’t any free mode like the intelevision does have,

now if we ever want to the O2 into a serious business computer system,well how about a word prpgram wich you could save,store and print stuff with it just like ms basic for the videopac+ BUT in this case for the O2 to do more with it then only playing games or doing educational stuff with it because it derserve it,so let’s just hope for more😁

 

Adding a bit mapped mode would have required a lot of extra RAM which was very expensive at the time. 

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1 hour ago, R.Cade said:

As I understand it, the O2 is built from "off the shelf" chips made for video game companies. For this reason, the specs were the specs.

 

Blame Intel. :)

 

 

 

No, this is not true. The chip that does the audio and video was custom designed by Intel for Magnavox. Good article about that here:

 

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=5223987

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