Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cover to Cover: Intellivision Spring 1986 Catalog (pp. 10-11)

We are leafing through the Triton Products Intellivision catalog for the spring of 1986, after the mid-80s industry crash -- there was still a lot of old Mattel stock in the liquidator's warehouse, and enough interest to spur development of a few new games.  Today, we're up to pages 10 and 11.

Page 10 features more of the old Mattel titles, ready to go out the door at discounted prices:

Math Fun used to be Electric Company Math Fun, now bereft of its Children's Television Workshop license but exactly the same game.  Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack was the original Intellivision pack-in game, but boxed copies were sold separately after the Intellivision II was released.  Utopia was a classic early resource management and strategy game, making good use of the console's 16-bit CPU as the player tried to develop and manage an island nation.  And Space Battle was a simple space shooter; a modified version was seen on 1980s television, with a fixed sight and a voice-activated firing feature allowing viewers to call in and play for prizes.  In my childhood neck of the woods, it was featured on a program known as Barney's Clubhouse POWWW!

Page 11 brings us a number of accessories, including one that made the Intellivision II a must-have for any hardcore gamer:

The Cassette 'n' Game File appears to have been a generic cartridge and audio cassette case; the Protective Cover was just that, and while the description only mentions the Intellivision II, there is a separate item number for the Intellivision I and III.  The Cartridge/Contact Cleaners look like generic computer edge card swabs, but I'm sure they worked fine on the Intellivision cartridges.

And last but not least, the Intellivision II's best feature -- detachable, therefore replaceable, hand controllers.  Of course, the flat keys were not as easy to feel out as the original console's raised buttons, and a few games didn't run well or at all on the second-generation machine -- but for the long term, moving away from hardwired controllers was a very good idea.  The ad copy also mentions support for 4 players, but as far as I know the Intellivision II only had two controller ports -- Mattel's add-on Entertainment Computer System provided additional controller ports, so this description is probably cobbled together from old marketing materials.


  1. Intellivision's Utopia may be the first example of a Real Time Strategy game.

  2. It may be indeed. I can't think of an earlier non-turn-based example off the top of my head, and nothing real-time that involved proper resource management before Utopia. Good call!