Intellivision Reviews M

Major League Baseball
Grade: C+
Publisher: Mattel (1979)
Reviewed: 2001/4/14

screenshotThis 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.
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2 players 

Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man
Grade: C+
Publisher: Mattel (1983)
Reviewed: 2005/6/4

screenshotWhen 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 sword fight 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.

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Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: EV 246,350
1 player 

Microsurgeon
Grade: D
Publisher: Imagic (1982)
Reviewed: 2006/3/5

screenshotWay 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, shooting 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
Our high score: 520,000
1 or 2 players 

Mind Strike
Grade: C
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
Reviewed: 2012/4/11

screenshotAs 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.

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1 or 2 players 

Minehunter
Grade: C-
Publisher: Ryan Kinnen (2004)
Reviewed: 2010/11/11

screenshotHave you ever played the little Minesweeper game that comes preloaded 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.

Recommended variation: 10x10
Our high score: 5241
1 player 

Mission X
Grade: D
Publisher: Data East (1982)
Reviewed: 2001/11/9

screenshotMission 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.

Recommended variation: hardest
Our high score: 6920
1 player 

Motocross
Grade: D+
Publisher: Mattel (1983)
Reviewed: 2010/9/26

screenshotMotocross 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 construct a simple track far more forgiving than any of the prefabricated 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 

Mountain Madness: Super Pro Skiing
Grade: A
Publisher: INTV (1987)
Reviewed: 2018/1/5

screenshotThe Intellivision always boasted an impressive roster of sports titles and the late-arriving Super Pro titles provided an exclamation point. Skiing (Mattel, 1980) was a superb game in its own right, but Mountain Madness: Super Pro Skiing is truly sensational. The number of options is nearly overwhelming. After entering the number of players you select between downhill, slalom, and no-gate variations.

Downhill is recommended although the narrow gates of slalom will keep expert players on their toes. For arcade action try the no-gate variations which let you freely weave around the trees. There are 32 courses to choose from and you can even preview them ahead of time! Choosing variation 33 ("helicopter" mode) randomly generates a course for you. This is an intriguing option as you'll encounter plenty of rugged, unpredictable terrain during each run. If that's not enough option 34 lets you design your own course.

When choosing a slope value (1-16) I find that 8 delivers the brisk pace you want for downhill, but stick to 1 for the slalom. The controls feel fluid as you carve through the snow with the top side buttons letting you perform tight turns. Pressing the keypad buttons allow you to jump and I love that. Since that's not mentioned in the manual I suspect it may be a feature of the ROM I'm using on my LTO Flash cart. Super Pro's graphics are nearly identical to Skiing, but there are also patches of loose snow (slowing you down) and ice (can't turn) to contend with. With sophisticated gameplay and a mountain of options, Super Pro Skiing is almost as good as the real thing. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: Course 1, slope 8
Our high score: 43.6
1 to 6 players 

Mouse Trap
Grade: A-
Publisher: Coleco (1982)
Reviewed: 2007/2/3

screenshotWhen 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: 3
Our high score: 5200
1 or 2 players 

Ms. Night Stalker
Grade: B-
Publisher: IntelligentVision (2014)
Reviewed: 2014/12/7

screenshotThe original Night Stalker was an intriguing maze shooter hampered by a plodding pace and awkward controls. This homebrew attempts to rectify those issues and replaces the generic main character with a Lara Croft-style heroine. With her lithe body and flowing hair, she's probably the sexiest chick I've seen in an Intellivision game (granted, there's not much competition). I love the title "Ms. Night Stalker" which manages to pay homage to the old school while being patently absurd at the same time.

Ms. Night Stalker is a lot faster and more fun than the original. Bullets are larger, there are more enemies on the screen, and you don't have to wait for the action to heat up. Bats put you to sleep and a spider roams the screen constructing random webs. Robots fire aggressively and some even have shields. I was excited about the nine selectable maze layouts, but it turns out they are all very similar. It would have been nice if the maze changed between rounds, but instead you play the same one for the entire game.

Attempts to improve the controls were largely unsuccessful. Firing via the keypad is still awkward and not very responsive. I hate how she has to stop to fire her weapon. You now have the option of using the four side buttons to fire, but that's confusing and buggy (can't fire downward). If you let a friend do the shooting via the second controller the game is much easier.

Despite its flaws Ms. Night Stalker is a pretty intense shooter, especially when two enemies converge and you have to make split-second decisions. I love how your bullets penetrate multiple foes, and your adversaries can even shoot each other. The explosions are terrific. This may not be the end-all-be-all Night Stalker, but it's a step in the right direction. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: BSCandVGC
Our high score: 20,200
1 or 2 players 

Ms. Pac-Man
Grade: A
Publisher: IntelligentVision (2014)
Reviewed: 2015/2/3

screenshotIf you can't imagine getting worked up about a 33-year-old arcade game, wait until you try Ms. Pac-Man for the Intellivision. This is fantastic! The graphics are very close to the arcade, lacking only small details like ghost eyes and Ms. Pac-Man's lipstick. The visuals are smoothly-animated and flicker-free. Bonus items like pretzels, donuts, and bananas look pretty amazing as they putt around the maze. The sound effects are dead-on and the cute animated intermissions are included as well.

Playing this game will make you appreciate just how tough the original arcade game was! By the time you reach the second maze, a power pill only turns the ghosts blue for a scant few seconds! The control is the most pleasant surprise as Ms. Pac-Man navigates each maze with ease and grace. My friends noted this was the first time we've played an Intellivision game without somebody complaining about the controls! Scott ranks this achievement "right up there with curing cancer!"

The robust options screen lets you configure many aspects of the game, and best of all, there are alternate sets of mazes available (including random). There are over 20 mazes total, and some are extremely creative. The single flaw with Ms. Pac-Man is somewhat glaring; there's no border on the top or bottom of the screen. This is disorienting at first, causing you to think you might exit on the bottom and re-emerge on top. It's a forgivable oversight however, especially once you realize this is probably the best pure, arcade-style game for the system. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: normal
Our high score: 31,680
1 or 2 players 

Mystic Castle
Grade: A
Publisher: IntelligentVision (2016)
Reviewed: 2017/10/7

screenshotThunder Castle was a showcase title for the Intellivision with artistic graphics and renaissance-style music. Forging through elaborate, ever-changing mazes, you battled dragons, wizards, and demons in forests, castles, and dungeons. Its only flaw in my humble opinion was its sluggish pace. Mystic Castle addresses that problem in a big way by putting a little pep in your knight's step.

Instead of being forced to trap enemies at dead ends, you can now chase one foe down after the next. It almost seems unfair at first, but keep in mind that unlike the original game you can always crank up the difficulty. The faster pace makes the controls feel more responsive. With his renewed confidence your knight can sometimes destroy two wizards at a time. Sometimes I even camp out in front of the castle and slay the next dragon as it emerges!

Mystic Castle also incorporates "remixed" maze designs to keep things fresh. In advanced stages the magic bats (which energize your knight) blend into the scenery, but this just adds to the challenge. Mystic Castle hits all the right notes, making a great game even better. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: archer
Our high score: 14,100
1 or 2 player 


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Screen shots courtesy of Video Game Museum, Games Database, Moby Games