Mattel Intellivision

The Mattel Intellivision was test released in 1979 by Mattel Electronics, and was the first Video Games Console to have a 16Bit processor. The console had a 4K Internal Rom system, and was based on a General Instruments Chipset. The console came with two hand controllers built in which sported a twelve button keypad, four action keys and a direction disc. At the time when Atari was the only other major video game manufacturer, this control pad was very unusual.

General release went ahead in 1980, with four cartridges: Poker & Blackjack, Math Fun, Armour Battle, and Backgammon. The original price was $299 which was double the cost of Atari's game console, but this didn't affect sales - nearly 200,000 units were sold in the first year. With the promise of an imminent keyboard add-on which would turn the console too, consumers were interested in the new video games console.

In 1981 Mattel went ahead with an aggressive advertisement campaign, which proclaimed the Intellivision better than the number one selling consoles at the time - the Atari VCS (later the Atari 2600). This in turn generated a lot of media coverage of the 'war' between the two consoles, which in fairness did neither of them any harm. By the end of its second year the Intellivision had sold close to one million consoles.

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Although the promised keyboard add-on never appeared (this was one of Mattel's original selling points - the fact the console would also act as a computer - something that never actually passed the test phases) a voice synthesis add-on was released in 1982, known as the Intellivoice. This was a 'plug-through' adapter, that added speech to games which supported this feature. These included B17-Bomber, where you would hear orders passed to you from your co-pilots!

The Intellivision soon had new competition from the Colecovision, which had better Graphics & Sound, support from arcade companies like Nintendo, Sega & Konami, and even had an add on adapter that allowed it to play all the Atari games currently on the market. As a result, the Intellivision lost some of its market share to the new console.

In an attempt recoup some of their losses from Atari & Coleco, Mattel introduced the Intellivision II in 1983, which was a cheaper looking black plastic unit, retailing at $150 (I'm sure this is just a coincidence, but Atari moved away from their 'wood grain' console, to the sleeker black-plastic 2600 around a similar time!). And, just like Coleco had done the previous year, they also introduced the System Changer Module, which allowed Atari 2600 games to be played on the Intellivision.

Unfortunately for Mattel (and indeed Atari, Coleco & MB) the influx of new consoles and cheap video games causes saturation of the market - there simply weren't enough sales to go round. All four main console manufacturers slashed the prices of their consoles, resulting in massive losses, redundancies and eventually the crash of the American Video Game Market. Enter stage right a Moustached Italian Plumber and a Japanese Pachinko machine manufacturer, and a whole new era of video gaming is born.

So that's the potted history of the Colecovision. A console which lost out to the video game crash due to poor management decisions and market saturation. A shame really, with over 100 titles, the console was starting to have a nice catalogue, thanks to the 'Blue Sky Rangers', Mattel's in-house software development team. However, titles such as Space Armada, Star Strike & Mission X still get some play time around my house - the Intellivision is still the console of choice for my missus. And with the recent release of Intellivision Lives for the X-Box & Playstation 2, a whole new generation are being introduced to these games too.

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Football

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Sixty hard-driving minutes of gridiron action! (Simulated time.) Every play a new challenge! This is it! The pressure-cooking fever of a real game! America's most exciting video game! You call your offensive plays while your opponent sets the defence!

Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back

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Based on the classic scene from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, you battle gigantic IMPERIAL WALKERS on the ICE PLANET HOTH. Quick reflexes and nerves of steel are needed to halt the WALKERS before they blow up the power generator at the Rebel base.

Dracula

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You are Count Dracula. Rise from your resting place in the graveyard and fly into the night! Travel in two forms - as a man or a bat. Wolves hound you when you are in human form, and vultures snatch at the bat you can become. You've got to sink your teeth into a victim soon. You're growing paler and slowing down. Constables throw stakes that'll stop you cold! Bite all the victims you can find, then return to your resting place before sunrise, or you'll never hunt again!

Demon Attack

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Eerie creatures launch an assault against Moon Station Tranquillity. Use your Laser Cannon to blast them - or they'll devastate Earth! Waves of demons circle the lunar surface, bombarding Earth's last outpost. Resist their dive bombing blitz. Fire into their ranks and shatter their raid.

Donkey Kong

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Donkey Kong the ape has stolen Mario's girlfriend and has taken her to the top of a steel fortress. Mario must get to the top to save her! Use the controls to manoeuvre Mario across the girders and up the ladders. But - as he runs, the ape throws barrels at him to prevent his progress.

Carnival

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It's just like an old fashioned shooting gallery! Fire away at clay pipes, dancing bears and sitting ducks! But keep an eye on those ducks, because they sometimes come to life when they reach the end of the gallery and avenge themselves by eating from your limited supply of ammunition.

Checkers

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Challenge Tradition! Beat a friend electronically for practice. Then go for it against the Ultimate Checker Player - a Wiley computer who asks and gives no quarter.

Boxing

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The strategy and excitement of real ring action! Punches and counterpunches, plus a variety of quick moves as two fighters face each other. Win by knockout or 15 rounds to a decision. Put yourself at ringside!

Burger Time

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Your chef is battling for his life in the fast paced world of fast food. He scurries up ladders and across planks in a frantic effort to build delicious hamburgers. Horrible hot dogs, evil eggs, and perilous pickles constantly try to surround and trap him.

Bowling

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First select one of ten conditions of alley slickness. Pick your own ball weight. Control your aim, curve and loft, and deliver the ball - to go for the strike pocket! This is electronic high precision bowling at its best!

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