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Old 08-24-2011, 10:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Retronauts: Thanks for the Memories?

There's always been one constant in this hobby' when shopping for a game system, the smart money's on the most popular machine. Sure, the competition may have tempting exclusives or sophisticated hardware, but in the end, you want some assurance that you'll be using that pricey new plaything for a while.

Nevertheless, there's always someone out there who ignores this rule of thumb and picks the losing side in a console war. Maybe the decision was prompted by brand loyalty, or a tight budget, or blissful ignorance. Whatever the motivation, the end result is a misfit console perched under the television set and a permanently skewed view of gaming.

I've owned more than my share of these oddballs myself. As a matter of fact, I couldn't have picked a less popular console for my introduction to the hobby! While all the other kids in the neighborhood hopped aboard the gaming train with the Atari 2600, the Intellivision, or even the Astrocade, my family was clinging to the caboose with the Odyssey2.

The limitations of early 1980s technology made the Odyssey2 a very, uh, unique experience. Back in those days, engineers had to make hard choices when designing a game system' piling on the RAM or expanding the color palette meant painful sacrifices elsewhere. Magnavox's solution was to hardwire character graphics into the Odyssey2, so they could cut corners everywhere else.

It was a cunning plan' until players started expecting more from their games than blocks, square-headed robots, and trees. When arcade superstars like Pac-Man and Mario came to home consoles, there was nothing in the Odyssey2's limited bag of tricks that could accommodate them. (Not that the system got many arcade conversions, mind you.)

Even less demanding titles were a tight, ugly fit on the system. The average Japanese gambler would swear off his sake forever if he saw what the Odyssey2 had done to his beloved pachinko! The popular parlor game had somehow become two androids poking at beach balls with pool skimmers, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. The Odyssey2 library was full of bizarre reinventions of familiar themes, mostly because the system just didn't have the memory to do them right.

Then again, you could argue that the warped imagination of Odyssey2 games was part of the system's charm. K.C. Munchkin! was derided by critics as just another Pac-Man clone, but its moving dots added a link to the food chain and a layer of strategy to the action. Alien Invaders Plus! turned Space Invaders into a game of cat and mouse, with unlucky players being stripped of their tanks and forced to sacrifice their shields for new ones. There were even titles like The Quest for the Rings! that were a marriage of board and video games' a combination that Magnavox's competitors were either too timid or too sane to try.

There's no question that the Odyssey2 deserves its place in gaming history... crammed in a dusty corner, far behind its contemporaries. However, if I had to do it all over again, I still would have bet on the dark horse. It was part of my childhood, after all, and it helpedshape my view of video games' even if it warped it slightly in the process.

Special thanks to VideoGame2Play for the Odyssey2 image.



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Old 08-24-2011, 11:17 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Retronauts: Thanks for the Memories?

I've often wondered what came first, my SMS or my love of being the weird kid and rooting for the underdog.

Either way, I always went for the less popular system and I have no regrets.
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Retronauts: Thanks for the Memories?

In my school the Sega's were the ones that all the cool kids got.
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Old 08-25-2011, 12:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Retronauts: Thanks for the Memories?

No one had a sega when I was a kid. I think only one kid we knew had one(genesis) and his selection was poor(besides Starflight, Buck Rogers, Shadowrun, Herzog Zwei, Pirates Gold). Actually my brother ended up stealing that genesis because that kid sold two of our snes games to a used shop. The bitch.
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Old 08-25-2011, 09:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Retronauts: Thanks for the Memories?

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his selection was poor(besides Starflight, Buck Rogers, Shadowrun, Herzog Zwei, Pirates Gold).
Poor? What more did you want? I never played Herzog but those others are awesome games.
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Old 08-25-2011, 01:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Retronauts: Thanks for the Memories?

I would've liked more in general. All those are single player(besides herzog) which is fine normally but it didn't work well when three people wanted to play. But I guess that's a problem with the genesis really, not a huge amount of awesome games like snes.
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