Major League Baseball
Publisher: Mattel (1979)
This was a groundbreaking baseball game in 1979 and it's still fun today, despite some notable flaws. The graphics are good, featuring a full diamond with nine fielders. Hitting, running, and stealing are easy, and the keypad is used to activate the appropriate fielder. Unfortunately, there's a single flaw that can ruin a game: the pitcher can field almost everything, and in the process easily shut out the other team. Be sure to ban this tactic from your contests! In addition, stealing is cinch, especially if the pitcher throws anything but a fastball. There are no fly balls, but that's not a big deal. Overall, MLB still holds up fairly well. As with most early Intellivision games, this is two-player only. Mattel released a better, more advanced baseball game called World Championship Baseball in 1983. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man
Publisher: Mattel (1983)
When you plug in Masters of the Universe, you'll witness some of the best graphics and sound ever generated by the Intellivision. The game opens with a slick title screen and a dead-on rendition of the He-Man musical theme (you'll remember it when you hear it). In the first stage, our hero hops into his ship and flies towards the castle of his nemesis, Skeletor. As He-Man whizzes across a scrolling landscape, a "miles remaining" counter winds down on the bottom of the screen. To arrive safely, you'll need to blast oncoming asteroids while bombing bad guys running on the surface below. It's only mildly entertaining, but the mountainous backdrop looks beautiful. Upon reaching your destination, you'll get a glimpse of Skeletor's castle, and yes, it does look awesome. The next three screens involve dodging (or blocking) a barrage of fireballs in order to reach Skeletor on the far right side of the screen. This sequence is somewhat aggravating, but the multi-colored characters look great and the control is pretty good. Once both adversaries meet face-to-face, a brief swordfight ensues before Skeletor scampers off like the big pansy he is. Masters of the Universe isn't a great game, but its variety and superb presentation are hard to resist. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 3
Publisher: Imagic (1982)
Way back in 1982, I remember drooling
over a screenshot of Microsurgeon in a Sears catalog. This game was a tour de force of graphics, depicting the internals of the human body in remarkable detail. Its fascinating premise has you navigating a scrolling human body with a tiny probe, administering ultrasonic rays, antibiotics, and aspirin to diseased areas. The control scheme utilizes both controllers at once, and while it seems daunting at first, it's really not that bad. Basically, you just navigate using the left directional pad, and shoot at viruses, bacteria, and tumors (to name a few) with the right pad. You can move freely (albeit slowly) around the body, but traveling through blood vessels and veins is the quickest route. Leaving their boundaries will not only slow you to a crawl, but unleash tenacious white blood cells that drain your power. The Intellivision's 16-point directional pads really come in handy, letting you finely adjust your shooting angle. A status screen keeps you posted on the patient's vitals and the condition of each major organ from the brain to the intestines. I'll give Microsurgeon all the credit in the world for its originality and rich visuals, but while its gameplay tends to hover around "interesting", it never quite creeps into "exciting" territory. To be frank, I found it slow and tedious. While traveling within the arteries sounds reasonable, they tend to be extremely narrow, and usually don't offer a decent route to the next nasty. It's not hard to shoot stuff - there are targets all over the place - but your range is very limited, and certain maladies tend to reappear in other areas just as you destroy them. In addition, sometimes it's hard to figure out what you're supposed to do. In a few of my games, the heart was listed in "serious" condition, yet I couldn't find any baddies hanging out there. The game offers several difficulty levels and two players can cooperate, but Microsurgeon simply doesn't have the "fun factor" most gamers crave. Still, collectors and Intellivision fans should probably track this one down for its novelty value alone. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 3
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
As one of the few games released for the Intellivision ECS computer/keyboard, Mind Strike tries to appeal to the intellectual crowd. It's similar to Chess, except you move numbers
around a grid and capture your opponent's castle to win. To determine how far a number can travel, subtract its value from eight. Smaller numbers can travel further, but a larger number will prevail if it lands on the same space. You can also split
a number in two, or combine
two numbers into a more powerful one. Once you wrap your mind around the basics, you begin to realize that the options are mind-boggling. Mind Strike may be too ingenious for its own good. There tends to be a lot of waiting between moves as each player contemplates a myriad of possibilities. My friend George consistently beat me simply because he was more patient with his moves (not
because he is smarter). The game also has a "speed" mode where instead of taking turns, players just make their moves as fast as they can. Mind Strike is an interesting strategy title, but it's nothing spectacular. The rotating numbers provide some eye candy, but I suspect that could have been done on a regular Intellivision. In the game's defense, the "create a board" option requires a keyboard, and the CPU AI is probably pretty complex. Casual players should avoid Mind Strike, but cerebral gamers looking for a challenge should bump up the grade by one letter. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Ryan Kinnen (2004)
Have you ever played the little Minesweeper game that comes pre-loaded with the Windows operating system? Well, Minehunter is the equivalent game for the Intellivision. Your goal is to click around a grid while avoiding hidden mines. Selecting a square usually causes a digit to appear, indicating the number of mines in contiguous squares. Once you get a feel for it you can skillfully deduce the mine locations and select the remaining squares to finish the game. Hitting a mine brings the game to an abrupt end, accompanied by a few small explosions and screen-shaking effects. The good news is that Minehunter is a fine rendition of an addictive game. You can select from three "field" sizes and three skill levels. The controls are responsive enough as you move the cursor and poke around the grid. Each game is clocked, so even if you conquer a board you can still go for best time. Still, it's a little hard to get excited about a game that's been so ubiquitous for more than a decade. On the unlikely chance you've never played Minesweeper for Windows, bump up the grade by a letter. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Data East (1982)
Mission X is a really lame vertical shooter where you control a WWII bomber armed with missiles and bombs. The plane can cruise at high altitudes or buzz low as it's assailed by anti-aircraft missiles and enemy planes. So why is this game so frickin' boring?!? Well, first of all, Mission X is seriously lacking in the challenge department. You begin by bombing ground installations, and the ground-to-air missiles are very slow and easy to dodge. The graphics don't help matters; your targets are chunky, static, and uninteresting. The night stages are a nice touch though. You'll have to get pretty far into this game before you encounter ANY enemy planes, which finally let you unleash your missiles. These kamikaze planes are hard to avoid, especially if you try to shoot them! I usually enjoy this type of game (1942, Xevious), but I couldn't get into this one. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel (1983)
Motocross looks like a precursor to Excitebike
(NES, 1984), but it's more of a simulation than an arcade title. You get an isometric view of the dirt courses that wind and scroll in all directions. The angled perspective lets you make out hills and valleys, and this sense of depth is a pretty big deal for the Intellivision. Motocross incorporates realistic physics, which is impressive in theory but frustrating in practice. The good news is, when you ride up a hill at high velocity, you're going to catch some major air. The bad news is, when you approach a turn you'll need to slow down considerably or risk sliding into the foliage. That's a real problem when you take into account how unresponsive the brake controls are. The game does its best to reposition you on the road after a crash, but it's still a struggle to get back up to speed. Two control schemes are available, and I prefer the directional over the left-right option. Your score is the time it takes to complete the course. You can race against a second player or the CPU, but playing head-to-head is confusing. When one player falls behind, the leader stops dead in his tracks until the other guy catches up. The leader's clock halts in the process, but it's still a herky-jerky nightmare to watch. The windy tracks are entirely too long and each lap feels like a never-ending ordeal. You can set the number of laps, but anything more than one is pure punishment. One feature I nearly overlooked was the ability to create your own
track! The interface is simple, and in less than a minute I was quickly able to constuct a simple track far more forgiving than any of the pre-fabricated ones. Motocross is still laborious to play, but this groundbreaking feature really improved my opinion of the game. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: Track 3,1 Lap
Our high score: 78 sec
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Coleco (1982)
When it comes to arcade action on the Intellivision, this cartridge is more than respectable. Mouse Trap takes the basic Pac-Man formula and incorporates a number of interesting wrinkles. You play as a mouse (actually a mouse head
) being pursued through a cheese-filled maze by an army of cats. Pressing buttons on the keypad allows you to toggle blue, yellow, and red doors, altering the maze on the fly. You'll really need to get a few games under your belt before you can anticipate how the doors will swing. You'll also collect bones that allow you to transform into a dog at the touch of a button. I'd recommend keeping your thumb over this "dog" button, because eating cats racks up big points. Since they regenerate, you can even snag more than four (although their value maxes out at 900 points). Just remember to keep an eye out for the dangerous hawk that flies over the maze. Another interesting feature is the "in box" in the center of the maze that teleports you to one of the four corners. I really love the arcade look and feel of this Intellivision version. The colors are gorgeous and the characters are well-defined and flicker free. The tail-shaking cats and wing-flapping hawks look great, but I hate how the mouse constantly winks his right eye. I'm sure it was meant to be a clever animation, but it looks like he has a serious medical condition. As usual, the Intellivision controller doesn't do you any favors, but since your movements are slower and more deliberate than most maze games, it's not a serious liability. Once you get a feel for it, you can actually "tap" the disc to move one square at a time. Mouse Trap's minor key musical score has a certain "cascading" quality that's quite appealing. The sound effects are less impressive however, and when you eat a piece of cheese it sounds like static. Still, with four skill levels and thought-provoking gameplay, Mouse Trap should clock a lot of time on your Intellivision console. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 2
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Mattel (1979)
This sharp-looking soccer game has a large, side-scrolling field with well-animated teams featuring three players and a goalie. It's a shame NASL Soccer is no fun. You only control one player at a time, and these guys are slow
. Having the ability to run off one side of the screen and reappear on the other side is not realistic, but it is very convenient. Like many soccer games, this one can be murder on your thumb. The ball moves slowly, and it's difficult to control passes or aim shots. The goalie control is pretty good, but overall NASL soccer is a fairly miserable game. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel (1979)
You know we're talking about an old
basketball game when there are no
three point shots and no
dunking! Without that stuff, you'd expect the game to be pretty dull, and you'd be right. Intellivision's basketball features decent graphics but lackluster gameplay. The 3D court is viewed from a raised angle, giving you a good perspective of the action. The court has all the necessary lines, and the nets even have backboards. The large players are well animated but clunky-looking and single-colored. Each team has three players, but two are computer-controlled. Passing the ball is done by pressing one of nine buttons on the keypad, each corresponding to an area of the court. Yes, it's confusing as hell. You get two types of shots: a jump shot (for close shots) and a "set" shot (for long attempts). On defense there's a block button but the steals are executed automatically. I found NBA Basketball to be slow and boring. As with most Intellivision sports titles, it's two-player only, so you'll need to grab a friend, and you'll probably owe him a favor afterwards. I'm sure this game was impressive in its time, but it hasn't aged well. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel (1979)
Considering it was released in 1979, NFL Football was an extremely ambitious title that still impresses to this day. It features a wide variety of formations and plays, and you can even direct receivers. Punting, field goals, safties, and running out of bounds are all part of the action. The players are very well defined, and the screen displays all the information you need. It was many years before anything this sophisticated was available for any other game system. Entering pass plays can be a bit daunting at first, since you need to select a formation, receiver, and a "zone" to catch the ball. Expect to hear a lot of obnoxious buzzes when you're getting started, but after a while entering plays becomes second nature. Still, it's usually pretty obvious when someone has called a passing play. My friend Eric claims that it's even possible to pull a "trick play" if you're extra sneaky. NFL Football is generally fun to play but it does have a few issues. For one thing, it's very easy to intercept passes, since you just need to be in the "line of fire". Only one receiver goes out for a pass, so he's pretty easy to cover. Games in progress are oddly quiet because the crowd only cheers after a score and between quarters
(why? I have no idea.) The clock inexplicably stops after first downs, and once it's running it keeps going indefinitely, which can be a problem. Despite its shortcomings, NFL Football is still very entertaining when played by two competitive sports fans. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel (1979)
The Intellivision has a pretty solid sports lineup, but NHL Hockey is the ugly duckling
of the litter. The sport of hockey is fast and smooth, and let's face it, those are two qualities the Intellivision is not
known for! The rink only consumes about a third of the screen, and the tiny players look like three-legged bugs
crawling around! There's a tan home team and a green visiting team, so what's the point of the NHL license? Speaking of colors, I understand the need to highlight certain players, but could they have devised worse
color scheme? There are tan, green, brown, and purple
players scattered around the rink. The controls are initially uncomfortable, but after extended play, they are just painful!
Even when you manage to gain control of the puck, your player is so slow that your thumb will be sore
by the time you drag his listless ass across the screen. And as if shooting wasn't difficult enough, an impenetrable goalie blocks everything, so you can only score with a quick follow-up shot. Passing is pretty much out of the question. After getting called for a penalty, it takes forever
for your player to meander over to the penalty box, and once there, he slouches like a fat slob in an easy chair. Can we please get this guy a beer and a remote?!
I also find it amusing how the instructions boast of the game's "computerized scoring". Am I supposed to be impressed? C'mon - even Pong
had that! Like real hockey, the game is played in three 20-minute periods, but even a single full period of this would be hard to endure. My friend Eric had a funny story about NHL Hockey. The first time he played it against a friend, they played an entire game
before realizing they had been scoring on their own goalies!
© Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
I've taken a lot of flack about Night Stalker over the years, but I'm still not convinced it's a great game. I'll concede that there's more to it than meets the eye, but slow gameplay and unresponsive controls put a damper on the fun. There's only one maze layout, but I like its asymmetric design with the big spider web in the top left corner. You control a man running from robots, so who exactly is
the Night Stalker anyway? Robots come in several varieties, including a gray one that's a dead ringer for the robot in Lost In Space ("Danger Will Robinson!"). Complicating matters are annoying bats and spiders that paralyze you temporarily. Night Stalker is challenging but it takes forever for the difficulty to ramp up. To "run" you must apply steady pressure to the directional disk, and you're constantly getting caught up on the corners of the maze. You shoot by pressing keypad buttons, but inexplicably you can't move and fire at the same time. After every six shots you'll need to retrieve a gun which randomly appears in the maze. Night Stalker's cat-and-mouse gameplay isn't bad, but its plodding pace is a serious liability. Everything moves at the speed of a turtle - including the bullets! Night Stalker does have a few things going for it. Shooting a robot causes debris to rain over the screen, which looks pretty awesome. Advanced robots possess additional powers like shields which change the dynamics of the game. The black robot can even destroy the protective "bunker" in the center of the screen. There's considerable depth here, but your hands will pay the price for long play sessions. Notes: It's possible to play the game using two controllers at once. Also, you can "cheat" by firing at robots as they first appear in the lower left corner. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 17,20
Publisher: Imagic (1983)
This side-scroller looks like Defender, but contains elements of Missile Command. Your mission is to protect the four cities of the water-planet Hydron, and the game ends when these cities are leveled (or your ship is destroyed). Nova Blast's graphics are only average, but I do like how the background alternates between night and day. Waves of enemies take the form of kamikaze fighters and "water walkers". The number of onscreen enemies is impressive, but the framerate and collision detection pay a heavy price. Your ship is equipped with rapid-fire lasers (always a good thing) and an unlimited supply of bombs. Each city has a shield that can sustain one hit. One aspect of the game that's played up in the instructions but has little bearing on the gameplay is your ability to transfer energy from fuel tanks to recharge city shields. It sounds good on paper, but in reality there's no time to stop shooting. Nova Blast is one tough game, and it's hard to last more than five waves on medium difficulty. I could tolerate the choppy animation in the early going, but later waves became almost unbearable. Your thumb will also pay the price for this frantic arcade action. Nova Blast has its problems, but it still offers a level of shooting mayhem rarely see on the Intellivision. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Mattel (1980)
I'm truly amazed at how advanced
this golf game is. Each hole is finely crafted with curved fairways, sand traps, water, rough, and trees. Hitting the ball is remarkably similar to modern day golf games. After aiming, you need to time your swing perfectly or you'll hook or slice. Although your angles are limited, you can actually control the trajectory of the ball. You get nine clubs to choose from, and each behaves exactly like it should. For example, a wood won't get you out of a sand trap; you'll need to blast out using a wedge. If only Mattel could have included a close-up view for the putts. Once you get on the green, both the ball and hole are only one pixel wide, and that's hard on the eyes. Up to four players can play this game at once, and there are three modes including stroke play, match play, and best ball. Once you get the hang of PGA Golf, it's hard to stop playing. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Atari (1983)
Its generic black-and-white cartridge label and bare-bones title screen may not inspire enthusiasm, but this Pac-Man is pretty amazing. The first time I laid my eyes on its colorful, flicker-free graphics, I was floored!
The Intellivision isn't known for exceptional arcade ports, but this one is faithful to the arcade in every way. The maze design is practically identical to the original game, and it's easy to guide Pac-Man around the maze. It even feels
like the arcade, with a single skill level that's just right. The ghosts look suspiciously similar to their Atari 2600 cousins, yet they do not
flicker! All the trademark animations are here, including Pac-Man splitting in half when caught by a ghost (ouch). The bonus fruit is rendered in a resolution you would never expect to see on a classic system. That strawberry is rendered in 1080p!
And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, the intermissions
are included. The freakin' intermissions!!
What more could you possibly ask for?! All I know is, Intellivision collectors who don't own Pac-Man have some serious explaining to do. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 14,390
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Mattel (1983)
When it comes to classic pinball games, it gets no better than this. Intellivision's Pinball looks great and plays extremely well. The balls moves between three
colorful screens, each loaded with targets and equipped with two
sets of flippers! And Pinball plays as good as it looks. You can even bump the machine to apply body english, and the round ball (yes, round) moves smoothly and realistically. Above all, the challenge level is just enough to keep you coming back for more. I was hard-pressed to find any
faults with this fine game. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Activision (1982)
I was surprised to see that this Intellivision Pitfall is almost identical to the Atari 2600 version! The only noticeable difference is the way the vines swing, which looks more realistic in this version. As for the controls, a different button is used to release from a vine, which is unnecessary but not a big deal. I prefer the 2600 version because of the joystick controller, but there's certainly nothing wrong with this one. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1983)
It may be downright blocky compared to the Colecovision version, but Intellivision's Popeye still conveys the ample challenge and madcap fun of the arcade hit. Each of its three screens offers a colorful and imaginative new platform layout - including a neat pirate ship! Your goal is to snag hearts tossed by Olive Oyle that gradually float down from the top of the screen. Attempting to stop you is the slow but relentless Brutus. Complicating matters are "sea hags" that appear on the edge of the screen and toss bottles. The hags look a heck
of a lot like Sleestacks from Land of the Lost! Popeye is great fun to play, and while some may lament the lack of a jump button, it's part of what makes the game unique. Falling off platforms incurs no damage, but navigating steps can be tricky. It's hard to line up with them correctly, especially on the pirate ship. Popeye and Brutus are nicely rendered in multiple colors, but other obects don't look so hot. The steps in the first screen look awful
, and when Popeye walks on them he looks like a little old lady in a dress! Furthermore, when he punches it looks like he's trying to hurl a fireball
(or maybe a certain critic has been playing too much Street Fighter). A fair rendition of the Popeye theme plays throughout the game, but it restarts
whenever a sound effect plays, which is irritating. I can nitpick all day, but if you're looking for some true-blue arcade action for the Intellivision, Popeye hits the spot. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 1
Our high score: 25,700
1 or 2 players
Publisher: Parker Bros (1983)
I first encountered Q*bert at a local Burger King in the early 80's, and I was utterly fascinated by it. Controlling a round creature with a long nose, you hop around a pyramid trying to turn all of its squares to a certain color. I'm happy to say that Parker Brothers did a fine job on the Intellivision version. Not only does this look
like the arcade game, but none its elements were sacrificed. That's right, not only do you get the red ball, purple ball, and Coily, but there's even Ugg, Slick, and the green ball. The slick graphics are accompanied by some amusing sound effects, including the sound of Q*bert "cursing" when he gets hit. There are only a few minor problems. First, it's difficult to tell when an enemy is about to appear at the top of the screen, causing some cheap, undeserved deaths. Next, you have to hit the reset button on the console after each game, which is inconvenient. Finally, you'll sometimes struggle to determine where you're supposed to press the disk to make diagonal jumps. But overall this delivers some solid arcade fun. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Rocky & Bullwinkle
Publisher: Mattel (1983)
This was originally programmed back in 1983 but only recently made available to the public as a cartridge. If you're wondering why Rocky & Bullwinkle was never released, you've obviously never played
it. For a game based on a cartoon, it is entirely too complicated. The screen layout consists of an airplane and a helicopter flying across the top and a train traveling across the bottom. Each game begins with a lengthy song that you need to sit through before you can do anything. You get to control Rocky the flying squirrel who can freely buzz around the screen - with some difficulty
. The idea is to catch specific objects being tossed upward by Boris from the train, delivering them to Bullwinkle in the airplane above for points. The rules for collecting items are complicated. The normal variations require you to collect combinations of ill-defined objects like bracelets, necklaces, crowns, and gems. The math variations force you to build equations
using a series of numbers and math operators. Yeah - you read that right. It's about as fun as being kicked in the crotch
repeatedly. Rocky is a struggle to control, and you need to exert constant pressure on the side buttons to "grab" anything (hurting!
). Adding insult to injury, the helicopter disperses white dots that cause Rocky to lurch in random directions for 10 seconds at a time. The game has plenty variations, but I couldn't find a single one that was worthwhile. Rocky and Bullwinkle is only likely to appeal to collectors, and even they might want to think twice. Clearly some games are best left "undiscovered". © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 7-3-1
Our high score: 32,700
Publisher: Mattel (1981)
It may seem odd playing cards on your Intellivision in 2003, but let me tell you something, this game is fun
. Unlike standard card games which focus on Poker and Black Jack, Royal Dealer lets you play Crazy Eights, Rummy, Gin Rummy, and Hearts. The games aren't very hard to learn, and the instructions do a great job describing the basics. I didn't know how to play any
of these at first, but I learned quickly thanks to this game. All of the contests are single-player, but you can challenge up to three CPU opponents. Your competitors are three surprisingly well rendered ladies sitting at a table. Video card games can be confusing, but Royal Dealer has a superb user interface that makes it easy to manipulate your cards and know what's going on. It's a very quiet experience, except for some shuffling sound effects. I'm not a big card player myself, but I found myself drawn into this game. It's addicting and a fun way to learn how to play various card games. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
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