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Intellivision Reviews P-R

PGA Golf
Grade: B
Publisher: Mattel (1980)
Posted: 2001/2/17

screenshotI'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.

1 to 4 players 

Grade: A
Publisher: Atari (1983)
Posted: 2011/1/12

screenshotIts 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 

Grade: A
Publisher: Mattel (1983)
Posted: 2022/12/14

screenshotThis is one case where Mattel's Intellivision blew Atari clear out of the water. Pinball actually looks and plays like *gasp* real pinball! The table had to be stretched wide to fill the screen, but you get all your bumpers, spinners, drop-targets, lanes, and roll-overs. Hell, there are even multiple sets of flippers! And get this - the ball is ... (wait for it)... round. A round ball in a classic game?! What sorcery is this?!?!

Better yet the ball moves more or less with regards to actual physics. You can use the side-buttons to activate the flippers, but the designers were considerate enough to provide an alternate method. You can also press the "clear" and "enter" buttons on the keypad, which is so much easier on the thumbs! It's also possible to "nudge" the table via the directional pad.

As if the main table doesn't look impressive enough, under certain conditions a little hole appears near the top. Knock the ball into that and you advance from the "lower" board to a red "middle" board. Now you're looking at an entirely new layout! And yes, it's even possible to ascend to a third blue table! If I ever reach that I may have a heart attack out of sheer bliss.

If Pinball has a fault, it's that it's so freaking hard. There's a lot of room between the flippers, and the "drains" along the sides are like gaping holes. Then again, it's the challenge that keeps you wanting to play over and over again. I just... can't... stop!! Pinball has got to be most addictive Intellivision game ever. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 23,930
1 or 2 players 

Grade: B
Publisher: Activision (1982)
Posted: 2015/8/21

screenshotIf you're expecting an extra-awesome version of Pitfall on the Intellivision you'll be sorely disappointed. This is almost a carbon copy of the Atari 2600 edition, in accordance with some lame-ass policy Activision had at the time. The only noticeable difference is how the vines swing in a more realistic manner. Oh well, it's still a good game.

You control an explorer named Pitfall Harry who must survive screen after screen of jungle hazards. There are crocodiles, quicksand, rolling logs, snakes, and scorpions. Each screen is basically a combination of those elements. When swinging on a vine Harry unleashes a Tarzan-like yell. Occasionally you'll come across rewards like gold bars and diamond rings which are very lucrative in terms of scoring.

Hopping across crocodile heads is the most tedious aspect of the game. It's possible to hop across all three in a row without stopping, but your timing needs to be perfect. I rarely venture into the caves below because there's no treasure down there. I really wish designer David Crane had put something down there besides scorpions.

In terms of control, two separate buttons are used to jump on vines and release from them. Was that really necessary? Pitfall is timeless fun but it does get repetitive once you get the hang of the familiar patterns. I personally favor the Atari 2600 version of this game if only because I can use a comfortable joystick on my choice. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 29,285
1 player 

Grade: B-
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1983)
Posted: 2010/9/26

screenshotIt 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 Oyl 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 objects 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: 37800
1 or 2 players 

Grade: B
Publisher: Parker Bros (1983)
Posted: 2001/5/18

screenshotI 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 of 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.

Our high score: 7300
1 or 2 players 

River Raid
Grade: B
Publisher: Activision (1982)
Posted: 2019/5/27

screenshotThis Intellivision version of River Raid has a different flavor than its wildly popular Atari 2600 cousin. The first thing you'll notice is the bad-ass title screen - pretty rare for that era. The next thing you'll notice is the smoothly meandering river banks with island slivers that create branches. Trees fill in the land areas and these are more than just decoration.

Unlike the Atari version you can fly over the land as long as you don't clip a tree! This adds a new dynamic as you can now skirt the river banks or fly straight over an island. I also like the expansive bridges which collapse with a single shot, leaving twisted girders hanging off each end. Patrolling adversaries include the standard helicopters, ships, and airplanes.

The fuel barges resemble round tanks in the middle of the river, and that seems a little strange. You fly over them to replenish your fuel supply, indicated by a somewhat hard-to-read gauge on the right side. You'll occasionally encounter "demilitarized" zones in which enemies are sparse - but so are those valuable fuel depots. These areas are a test for your navigation skills as you must quickly navigate narrow passages. Hold your fire if you hear a warning siren; you don't want to accidentally destroy an upcoming fuel depot!

The directional disc feels responsive but it's easy to veer a bit too far to the left or right, crashing into the trees. And it's amazing how many ships you'll miss at point blank range! The game selection process is confusing because the keypad buttons don't match up with the variations. Variations 1-8 map to buttons 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, clear, 0. I only know this because I have the otherwise-unnecessary keypad overlays. Still, River Raid fans will want to own this version. It retains the same excellent gameplay we all know and love, but with a few new twists that change the way you think about the game. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 5
Our high score: 8950
1 or 2 players 

Rocky & Bullwinkle
Grade: F
Publisher: Mattel (1983)
Posted: 2012/1/8

screenshotThis 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 of 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.

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Recommended variation: 7-3-1
Our high score: 32,700
1 player 

Royal Dealer
Grade: B+
Publisher: Mattel (1981)
Posted: 2003/3/13

screenshotIt 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.

1 player 

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