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Title Range: A-E

Alien Invaders - Plus!
Grade: F
Publisher: Magnavox (1978)
Reviewed: 2001/1/27

screenshotCan somebody please tell me where the "plus" is? This is just a second-rate version of Space Invaders. The graphics are awfully bad. There are only two rows of aliens; one row resemble people, and the other look like mushrooms. Only the large, one-eyed mother ship looks like any thought was put into it. The game plays slightly different from the classic Space Invaders. Your mission is to clear ten waves. When your cannon is hit, you turn into a little person. You can then run under one of the three invincible shields and turn it into a backup cannon. That means you get four cannons for each life. Multiply that by the ten "men" you get -- that's 40 lives per game! The game is challenging, but only because there's a moving shield in front of the invaders, and the choppy movement of your targets makes it impossible to aim at anything. You just keep shooting and moving and hope for the best. Sonically, the game provides the standard Space Invaders cadence. The only score you're given is the number of waves you've cleared. There are no extra variations or two-player modes. Very poor! © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Alpine Skiing
Grade: C
Publisher: Magnavox (1979)
Reviewed: 2014/2/4

screenshotAlpine Skiing is a tough nut to crack. When you turn it on and the words "slalom", "giant slalom", and "downhill" slowly begin to cycle on the bottom on the screen. You're supposed to pull back on the joystick to select the event you want. It's a weird, non-intuitive design decision considering the Odyssey has a full keyboard for crying out loud! The screen is divided for two players, but you can just ignore the right side when playing solo. It's neat how the skiers "assume the starting position" before the "go" signal. The object is to navigate through blue and red tree-shaped "gates" and reach the finish in the shortest time. Your skier moves slowly but if you hold in the button he speeds up dramatically. Go easy on that button, because if you miss a single gate you are disqualified! Pretty harsh! Tripping over a gate causes you to lose control temporarily, and that usually means a missed gate (and disqualification). The razor slim margin for error forces you to move at a controlled, deliberate pace. The vertically-aligned gates are especially tricky (hint: cut them closer to the top). I like the whooshing sound as you turn, but it's hard to develop any rhythm or momentum. I like the challenge and split-screen of Alpine Skiing, but the execution could have been a lot better. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: Slalom
Our high score: 44.1
1 or 2 players 


Amok!
Grade: B
Publisher: John Dondzila (1998)
Reviewed: 2001/12/20

screenshotBilled as the "first new Odyssey 2 game in 15 years", Amok provides this system with a much-needed adaptation of the 80's arcade classic: Berzerk. Your goal is to clear mazes of robots and then escape before an invincible bouncing head (Evil Otto) pounces on you. The action is fast, so fast in fact you can even outrun Otto! And boy, is this game tough! There were certain mazes that I just tried to escape from without even bothering to shoot any robots. The objects aren't animated (just static images), and the collision detection screws up occasionally, but it's a small price to pay. Amok will keep you coming back for more shooting action. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
1 player 


Armored Encounter/Sub Chase
Grade: F
Publisher: Magnavox (1978)
Reviewed: 2001/4/10

screenshotCheck it out - it's Combat for the Odyssey 2! If there was ever a case of blatant copyright infringement, this is it. The tanks look exactly like their Atari 2600 cousins. There are several maze and shooting configurations, but no "tank pong" variants, which were the best part of Combat. I noticed a major problem with the gameplay. When a tank is hit, it does not relocate to a different spot, making it vulnerable to several more cheap hits in a row! Pretty cheesy! In addition, there's also a really bad submarine jet shooting game included that looks like an Air/Sea Battle wannabe. This cartridge gives me newfound respect for Combat. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

2 players 


Atlantis
Grade: A-
Publisher: Imagic (1982)
Reviewed: 2001/5/10

screenshotThis simple yet popular shooter plays surprisingly well on the Odyssey 2. The graphics aren't quite as detailed as the 2600 version, but they are smooth and colorful nonetheless, and the gameplay is just as good, if not better. Your city consists of two pyramids, two generators, and a bubble dome. Two cannons, one on each side of the screen, are used to destroy invaders. You don't have a middle cannon like the 2600 version, but you do get something called a "Blitz Bomb". It's basically a smart bomb (wipes out everything on the screen) which you can use once per wave. It really adds some much needed strategy. It's useful because once you take a hit or two, everything tends to go to hell pretty quickly. When the game is over, the Cosmic Ark does not make an appearance, which makes sense since that game was never available for the Odyssey 2. Atlantis is a one-player game, but you can choose between four skill levels. Check it out. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Attack of the Time Lord
Grade: B-
Publisher: Magnavox (1982)
Reviewed: 2007/8/9

screenshotFeaturing awesome voice synthesis and fast-paced shooting action, my friend Scott coined Attack of the Time Lord as "Space Invaders on human growth hormone". Indeed, this may be the Barry Bonds of Odyssey 2 games, pushing the system to its limits. Before each wave, the Time Lord materializes in the form of a small, red, talking head. With the voice module plugged in, he'll predict your impending doom with ominous lines like "Conquer the earth", "Kill the human", and "Attack and destroy". How cool is that? Attack's gameplay involves moving a triangular cannon left to right, firing at "time ships" that emerge from a vortex in the center of the screen. These ships zip around in swirling formations, attempting try to drop what appears to be bird poop on your cannon. You only fire one shot at a time, but it clears the screen very quickly, giving the game a rapid-fire feel. Still, that last time ship is usually a real pain in the ass to shoot down. The game is fun for a while, but with extended play it reveals itself to be a bit shallow and monotonous. As waves progress you'll contend with homing missiles, but otherwise nothing much changes. Attack of the Time Lord isn't the most addictive shooter in the world, but its slick graphics and cool presentation definitely make it worth checking out. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Baseball
Grade: B-
Publisher: Magnavox (1978)
Reviewed: 2010/5/11

screenshotCompared to Homerun (Atari 2600, 1978), Baseball for the Odyssey 2 is pretty amazing! You get all nine players in the field and there's even a home run fence! The animation is smooth and the controls are responsive. The pitcher can curve the ball at will, but sadly he can't control the speed. When at bat you can direct your hits (allegedly) by swinging early or late. On defense you can shift your outfielders, which adds a strategic element. Then we get to the fielding, which is where things start to get a little dicey. Whenever you catch a moving ball, it's considered a fly out, yet baserunners can take off at any time without penalty. While this clearly violates the tag-up rule, it also spices thing up by rewarding aggressive baserunning. Throwing the ball around the bases is easy, but the throws are far too soft. It's especially aggravating when you're trying to throw out a runner at home and he's running as fast as the ball! The general pace of the game is brisk, allowing you to play nine innings in about 20 minutes. The audio is minimal, save for the "take me out to the ballgame" song, which is by far the most horrendous rendition I've ever heard in my life. There's no single-player mode, but Baseball's easy-going style makes it fun to play against a friend. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

2 players 


Blockout!/Breakdown!
Grade: C-
Publisher: Magnavox (1980)
Reviewed: 2010/5/11

screenshotMy initial scathing review of this game was somewhat misinformed, but in my defense Blockout/Breakdown may be the most counter-intuitive game ever made. On the surface, it looks like an unattractive Breakout clone where you bounce a ball against four chunky layers of blocks. The manual tries to heighten the excitement by describing the paddle as a "power bar", the ball as a "blockbuster", and the wall as a "fourth dimension barricade" Overdo it much?? Umm, is this even the same game?? What sets Blockout apart is the tiny characters who reside in each row. They are called "demons" but they assume that "generic man" shape you see in all these Odyssey games. By moving these demons side-to-side, a player (or CPU) can systematically reconstitute the wall as the other tries to break through it. It's Breakout - with defense! Unfortunately, the control scheme for moving these demons was clearly designed by Satan itself (mental note: new icon needed!). You move the demon in the third row by default, and holding in the button lets you control the top one. The remaining two demons are controlled via the up-diagonals or down-diagonals. It's hard to wrap your brain around this, and without studying the instructions I would have never figured it out on my own. Once you grasp the controls Blockout isn't half bad. Yes, it can be aggravating to see the wall rebuilt as fast as you can destroy it, but you can't deny the challenge. Blockout/Breakthough is an interesting attempt to re-imagine Breakout as a two-player experience, and to that end it serves a purpose. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 1/2
Our high score: 47/33
1 or 2 players 


Bowling/Basketball
Grade: F
Publisher: Magnavox (1978)
Reviewed: 2001/2/7

screenshotYou have to be concerned when more than one game is included on a cartridge, since this usually indicates neither game could stand on its own. Unfortunately, two bad games do not make a good game; two bad games make a very bad game! The bowling and basketball games here are minimal to say the least. In bowling, you start with a ball moving from side to side at the end of the lane. You initiate the roll and apply the spin. The square pins simply disappear, giving you no chance to knock down spread formations. That's a problem, because half of your rolls result in splits! Basketball isn't any better. The graphics are downright embarrassing! Two static players move side to side on a flat "court". The holes you shoot at look nothing like baskets. This makes the Atari 2600 Basketball look like NBA Live. Painful! © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 4 players 


Casino Slot Machine
Grade: D
Publisher: Magnavox (1978)
Reviewed: 2004/1/4

screenshotNormally these old slot machine games aren't even worth a second look, simply because success depends completely on luck. But if you're ever in a situation where you're forced to play one under threat of bodily harm, Casino Slot Machine isn't the worst option. The graphics are functional, though unspectacular. The machine has three rows of symbols, providing five possible ways to win (including diagonals). You can set your bet amount and select which of the five rows you'd like to bet on. The symbols that appear in each slot are blocky fruit, sevens, and bells. The actual winning combinations are listed in the manual, and they seem pretty arbitrary to me (orange, orange, bar?). Once the machine stops spinning, the winning rows are highlighted and your winnings are tallied. I fell behind early, and kept trying "one more time" hoping to "hit the jackpot". Not bad for such a plain looking game with zero strategy. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 


Computer Golf
Grade: D
Publisher: Magnavox (1979)
Reviewed: 2001/5/10

screenshotThe instructions describe this game as "an extremely realistic nine hole electronic golf course!". Compared to WHAT? Give me a break. Take the mediocre Atari 2600 Golf, remove the water and sand traps, slow down the gameplay, and you're left with this. Each boring hole has only trees as obstacles. You even have to drag your slow golfer across the course after each hit. One of the holes is short enough that you could actually make a hole-in-one. This is very dull affair. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 


Cosmic Conflict
Grade: C-
Publisher: Magnavox (1978)
Reviewed: 2005/3/26

screenshotEven for an Odyssey 2 game, Cosmic Conflict seems awfully skimpy. A rudimentary first-person space shooter, the object is to shoot down 15 enemy ships while consuming the minimal amount of energy. I like how the instructions specify that the actual units of energy are in "megajoules", as if that makes a difference! Cosmic Conflict's aiming controls are responsive, and since your targets move in straight paths, it's easy to line them up in your crosshairs. Aggressive tie fighter-shaped ships slowly scale in and can inflict harm if you don't blast them in time. Most enemies however are harmless cargo ships drifting slowly across the screen. The first time I played Cosmic Conflict, I shot down all 15 ships without breaking a sweat. Whenever you complete the game, it displays this text: "Message from commander: Enemies retreating". I was thinking, "that's IT?" My first instinct was to raise the skill level, but believe it or not, there's only one! In fairness, Cosmic Conflict was released long before all of those sophisticated Star Raider clones emerged. It isn't a bad game, but it's definitely shallow and leaves you wanting more. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 


Demon Attack
Grade: B
Publisher: Imagic (1982)
Reviewed: 2001/5/10

screenshotHere's another solid effort by Imagic. The graphics are very similar to the Atari 2600 version, except the aliens are blockier and there are fewer on the screen. The game plays very well, and contains several options including guided versus straight missiles and special co-operative modes. This is a quality title, but many may find the gameplay too shallow. You just shoot the aliens and avoid their bombs. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Dynasty
Grade: D
Publisher: Magnavox (1979)
Reviewed: 2005/3/26

screenshotDynasty is okay, but I liked it better when it was called Othello, Reversi, or any of the titles this ancient board game has been sold under. Played on an 8x8 board, two players alternate placing chips down, trying to "conquer" the most squares. It's simple to play, unquestionably fun, and there's even an interesting "directional dynasty" variation that alters the strategy a bit. Unfortunately, Dynasty's computer opponent is less competitive than I had hoped. I beat the CPU handily on my first try and watched him make some rather unintelligent moves. This oldie doesn't have a lot to offer. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


Electronic Table Soccer
Grade: D
Publisher: Magnavox (1980)
Reviewed: 2003/6/22

screenshotTable Soccer is basically a poor man's Foosball game for the Odyssey 2. It takes advantage of the Odyssey 2's unusual controllers to operate three lines of soccer players at once. Press left-up or left-down to control the goalie, up or down to control the middle line, and right-up or right-down to control the line on the right. The large white ball is automatically caught by any player it touches, although holding the button deflects it instead. This scheme makes it possible to pass the ball around, creating some strategy. While the game is certainly playable, I never really felt comfortable with the control scheme. In addition, the slow movement of the ball and constant catching tends to suck the excitement out of the game. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 



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Screen shots courtesy of The Odyssey 2 Homepage, Classic Gaming.com

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