1982 was a spectacular year for video games. The arcades would see games like Joust, Donkey Kong Jr, Moon Patrol, and Tutankham. The Atari 2600 was still on a roll, with the amazing Ms. Pac-Man port, Pitfall, Enduro, and Dig Dug to name a few. The Atari 5200 was on the horizon later in the year.
But- one day in July 1982, an ad in Electronic Games Magazine would show a system that would change the landscape of home consoles forever. The Colecovision.
This machine would become an obsession to me for over 20 years- until I got one myself.
Just LOOK AT THAT. I know it doesn’t mean a lot to kids today, with the more involved, almost photo realistic games they play today. But to people my age- this was the first home console to allow us to play what we were playing in the arcade. And it was amazing. It was either this or a computer for Christmas- I chose the Atari computer. But- a friend of mine got one for under his tree in 1982- so I got to play it- and the Colecovision was an amazing system at the time. It’s ports were SO CLOSE to the arcade- you could stay home and play!
I Also want to point out the selection of games- While the Nintendo selections were what you were buying the Colecovision for, It was all the other great arcade games they got (a lot of obscure ones!) that made this the system to get! Lets look at some of my favorites!
Pepper 2- Exidy
One of the best fill in the maze games ever made. It’s full of small, sharp turns and tons of bad guys! Grab the pitchforks to unleash your little devil and Get rid of the baddies and zip up every line to win! You can move between all four mazes at any time. Controls are slippery, but you get used to them easy enough. A fun game and one of my favorites for the system!
Next to Donkey Kong, this isometric scrolling shooter was what everyone wanted on their Colecovision! Zaxxon was unlike anything we had seen in arcades in 1981. and to be able to play it at home was amazing in 1982. While some of the enemies look different, the gameplay is exact! Fly through the Zaxxon stronghold- which is heading towards earth- in your shuttle, your goal- to destroy the mighty Zaxxon robot! it won’t be easy- your path will be filled with missiles, fighter jets, laser shields, and more- but don’t fly to high- the robot will launch a heat seeking missile at you- and it hardly misses.
Coleco also made an enhanced version- called Zaxxon Supergame- That had longer and varied strongholds, a new robot to face, a great soundtrack, and high score saves!
Slither- Century II/GDI
A little known game from a small company with only two released titles, Slither was a fun and interesting take on Centipede- Slither allows you to shoot above AND below! It was a pretty rare game in the arcade, but like many games, It found a great home on the Colecovision! It was bundled with their “Roller Controller” A great Trackball controller that allowed your two Colecovision controllers to be mounted to it for a real arcade experience! Fight the snakes and other creatures of the desert day and night! a really fun and challenging trackball shooter that gives Centipede players a real fight! Slither and the Roller Controller I have in my collection!
Frenzy- Stern Electronics
In 1980, Stern released Berzerk- a maze shooter that defined the genre- influencing games like Robotron 1984 and Smash TV. The first arcade game to use digitized voices, the game was a claustrophobic nightmare of 80’s goodness! In 1982, Stern released a sequel- Frenzy. This game is Berzerk on steroids. And one of my favorites! Different robots, destructive walls, ricochet walls, and other surprises await in Frenzy! The game also has a killer soundtrack for 1983!
Dragon’s Lair- Magicom-
Any Colecovisionary worth their salt knows the story of Dragon’s Lair. 1983 was the year of laser games- every arcade company had one out- or was about to release one. But the one to beat- set the bar very high. With beautiful animation by Don Bluth, Dragon’s Lair was sought out by every home system for a release. with Coleco coming in with the highest bid, rumors were abound. Would Coleco release it as a cartridge? or would they do a laserdisc add on? We would learn in late 1983 that it would in fact be release on the Coleco Adam- their personal computer. Coleco redid the game as a platformer/hybrid. In some scenes, the player controls Dirk directly, maneuvering him through obstacles with the joystick and buttons much like any game. Other levels retain a style closer to the arcade game, requiring the player to move in the right direction or use your sword at the right time. As early ports of this game go- it feels more like the arcade game! Check it out for yourself and see what you think!
If you can’t get your hands on a Colecovision- the blueMSX emulator and roms on your computer will give you a taste of the arcade goodness within. Also the Colecovision Flashback is a good way to try out the system. I finally got my hands on not one BUT TWO in 2003. and I still play mine to this day. Some home systems are good- some are an experience. That’s what the Colecovision is to me.
Keep Playin’ Like it’s 1981.
Awesome article Ray! Aside from Donkey Kong and Zaxxon I didn’t know much about the other games that were released but I did know that in comparison to the other consoles at the time Colecovision had it going on in terms of what it could do hardware-wise. And nowhere was this more apparent than in DK and Zaxxon. 😀😃
How they were able to break into the business with this console is also an interesting story. 🙂😀
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