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Games are rated relative to other games for the same system.

Intellivision Reviews S

Grade: D+

screenshotYou have to be intrigued by an old-school title as complex and sophisticated as Safe Cracker. At first glance this looks more like a driving game. Your goal is to break into safes at various embassies around Washington DC and transport stolen goods back to your hideout. You can drive around freely, and the buildings and parks look impressive thanks to the slick isometric perspective.

It's a shame the steering controls happen to be the most awkward, least-intuitive ever devised. Making a simple 90-degree turn requires a painful combination of button-pressing and diagonal movement. White cars serve as traffic, but they tend to drive down the center of the roads, which are pretty narrow to begin with! Touching another car or hitting a curb will cause you to instantly explode. A half-ass GPS displays colors for each direction (red for northwest, green for southeast, etc). Would a simple arrow have been too much to ask for?

You might expect the actual safecracking to be tedious but it's actually the best part of the game. You hold the "quick dial" button to run up numbers between 0 and 100. When you hear a beep, you use the slow dial control to finely adjust. When you need to decipher three numbers in 20 seconds, tension runs high. You also have the option to blow a safe open, but that will put the cops hot on your tail.

Getting back to your hideout is monumentally difficult. Navigating the streets is hard enough without other cars shooting at you! In fairness, you can fire back from the front or rear. There's a lot of substance here but Safecracker doesn't do itself any favors with its confusing controls and steep learning curve. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: med
Our high score: 3,040
1 player 

SameGame and Robots
Grade: B+
Publisher: Mike Hayes (2005)
Posted: 2010/11/11

screenshotThe title of this game is ironic, considering it's one of the more original titles published under the IntelligentVision label. In fact, I don't think I've ever played anything like SameGame before. It's a deceptively simple puzzler that's strangely addicting. The idea is to clear out a grid composed of a random configuration of three types of symbols. Selecting a symbol causes it and any identical connected ones to disappear. The board then collapses down to fill in the gaps, creating a very dynamic playing field.

You play for high score, and each game only lasts a minute or two. You'll want to target large clusters to score big points. I love how the point values literally float across the screen to your score on the right. Two variations of SameGame are included, and after you play a game or two, you'll be hooked. My friend Chris mentioned, "I could definitely see us sitting around playing this game". He also found it quite amusing when the screen displayed "one moment..." as if it were loading data from a CD-ROM!

This cartridge also includes a turn-based, strategic game called Robots. The idea is to move a cursor around a board and clear the screen of converging robots using bombs and warps. It's so deceptively simple that some may be tempted to write it off as a throw-away bonus game. Actually it's quite addictive once you learn how to make the robots collide with each other.

As icing on the cake, SameGame and Robots supports the voice synthesizer, which is a great feature. Between stages the game tosses out comments like "let's play" and "level complete" in a metallic, robotic tone. It even pronounces your score! I love it!! More than the sum of its parts, SameGame and Robots is perfect if you're looking for a few minutes of instant entertainment. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: Pro
Our high score: 1596
1 player 

Scooby Doo's Maze Chase
Grade: D-
Publisher: Mattel (1983)
Posted: 2009/12/18

screenshotThis plodding maze game is a disappointment, especially considering it requires the Intellivision ECS (computer and keyboard) attachment. You control a nicely animated Scooby Doo who must snatch three ghosts wandering around a maze while avoiding a single skull. There are ten mazes to choose from, and you can even create your own. The maze options are nice, but what the game really needs is a skill select, because Maze Chase is incredibly easy and tediously slow.

Scooby is only slightly faster than the ghosts, so snagging all three isn't as hard as it is time-consuming! That skull isn't terribly hard to avoid, and once he starts closing in you can drop a bone in his path to stop him in his tracks. Between stages a submarine sandwich meanders around the maze for a few seconds, and touching it nets you an extra bone.

The maze is trimmed with some interesting graphics like a tree, gravestone, and clock. Thunder claps and an ominous organ can be heard throughout the game, and these are so good you'll wish Mattel had saved them for a better game! Sadly, they are just window dressing for an ultra-lame, mega-generic maze title with minimal entertainment value. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 12,150
1 or 2 players 

Sea Battle
Grade: C-
Publisher: Mattel (1980)
Posted: 2000/9/17

screenshotAt first glance, Sea Battle seems like a very dull strategy game with uninspired graphics and complicated controls. Once you get the hang of it however, Sea Battle is a sweet combination of strategy and arcade action. Most of the strategy occurs at the beginning of the game, when you deploy and position four fleets of ships on a large map. Your fleets move slowly around the map, but once you enter enemy range, you get a close-up view of the action. The battle controls are complicated and require some practice. One button is used to aim, and another to shoot. The battles would be a lot more exciting if the controls weren't so awkward. Still, Sea Battle has the potential for fun if you can find a friend willing to give it a fair shot. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
2 players 

Sewer Sam
Grade: F
Publisher: Interphase (1983)
Posted: 2010/9/26

screenshotWhen you turn on this game you're greeted by a truly pathetic rendition of "Pop Goes the Weasel". It does not inspire confidence. Sewer Sam is a novelty title that relies on that pseudo-3D "tunnel" effect achieved by cycling the color palette. In this case it conveys the illusion of trudging through endless boring sewers. Sam himself is an unattractive fellow decked out in an orange jumpsuit.

As you venture forward you're approached by birds, spiders, rats, crocodiles, and snakes. Why are there birds in the sewers? The crocodiles make perfect sense because people returning from vacations to South America bring back baby crocs and flush them down the toilet all the time. As with most classic games, a crocodile is harmless when its mouth is closed.

Sam is armed with a gun, but can only fire six shots before having to wait several seconds to reload. It's possible to scuttle up the walls to escape snakes, but since they just camp out below you, what's the point? Every now and then a doorway appears, allowing Sam to move to a different sewer. Your goal is to locate and destroy three submarines.

The thing is, you need to be armed with a rocket launcher to destroy a sub, and since the sewers are randomized, it's anybody's guess where the hell that thing is located. The gameplay is monotonous and confusing. I often died for no apparent reason, and the worthless instruction manual didn't provide any clues. Sewer Sam offers a smattering of original ideas, but they never really add up to anything worthwhile. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 2,975
1 player 

Shark! Shark!
Grade: A+

screenshotSharks have fascinated me since childhood, so I'm a sucker for any game with the word "shark" in the title. This one has it twice (with exclamation points no less) so you know I'm all in. Shark! Shark! may well be the greatest Intellivision game of all time, as long as you do one thing. Whenever you start this game you need to promise me you'll initiate "fast mode" by pressing the disc. If you select one of the slower variations via the keypad this game can be a real slog.

Perfect for a hot summer day, Shark! Shark! takes place in the cool depths of the ocean blue. You control a tiny yellow fish swimming freely around the screen. Other fish of all shapes, colors, and sizes soon emerge and lobsters creep through swaying seaweed. Your goal is to consume other fish of lesser or equal size, causing your fish (and score) to gradually increase in size. Growing lets you consume larger fish but also makes you a bigger target for jellyfish and seahorses. Losing a life returns you to your original size, so enjoy being a big fish while you can.

The controls allow you to dash forward, but only after you've released the directional pad, which can be a little counter-intuitive. Audio effects include harmonized music and realistic bubble sounds. Ominous tones indicate the approach of the large, menacing shark. He's an intimidating presence but he can be defeated. If you manage to nip at his tail enough times he will die and his carcass will sink to the ocean floor. That's easier said than done as he can turn on a dime and snap you up in his jaws!

The two-player mode adds a whole new dimension as it's possible to eat the other player! This leads to shorter but more exciting contests. For years I forged a "gentleman's agreement" with friends that our fish would not eat each other, but those days are long gone. No more Mr. Nice Fish!

I find it interesting how various creatures in the game will independently swim around and consume each other, creating a fully functional, self-contained ecosystem. Lobsters will jump up to snag low-swimming fish, prompting my friend Chris to exclaim "Was I just eaten by a crustacean?!" When a game prompts grown men to spout nonsense like that, you know it's got to be something special. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: SLN 19,500
1 or 2 players 

Sharp Shot
Grade: B+
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
Posted: 2007/8/23

screenshotNow this is a pleasant surprise. At first glance, Sharp Shot seems like a lame collection of mini-games inspired by other, better-developed Intellivision titles. But despite its shallow nature and simplistic controls (one button!), Sharp Shot proves oddly compelling. Its gameplay is clearly derivative, but you could argue that it incorporates the best aspects of other action games.

The Football variation challenges you to score as many touchdowns as you can from the five-yard line within a minute. Since you can't move your quarterback or the receivers (they move on their own), timing is everything. It sounds awful, but it's madly addictive. The second game takes a page from Space Battle. Each player has a set of non-moving crosshairs, and you simply fire when alien ships fly through them. It's possible for a single explosion to take out other nearby ships. Is it just my imagination, or is player one at a disadvantage? It seems like he doesn't get nearly as many ships to shoot!

Sub Shooter resembles Sea Battle but plays more like Atari 2600's Air-Sea Battle. Your sub patrols the bottom of the screen as you unleash three torpedoes at a time towards ships moving above. I like how the ships sink instead of simply flashing and disappearing. Sharp Shot's fourth variation is something completely different. Each player is represented by an arrow moving back and forth across the bottom of a maze with angular corners. By firing arrows and ricocheting your shots, you can target various monsters walking around the maze. Should a monster snag the "treasure" on your side of the screen and return to the top, you lose a point.

Sharp Shot is a heck of a lot better than you'd expect. The games are simple as hell, but they are fun and there's definitely some skill involved. It helps that the games are so short, making you want to play repeatedly to beat your high score. Sharp Shot manages to be better than the sum of its parts. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: football
Our high score: SDZ 70
1 or 2 players 

Grade: B+
Publisher: Mattel (1980)
Posted: 2018/1/5

screenshotSkiing does a great job of capturing the exhilaration of careening down the slopes halfway out-of-control. Evergreen trees lining the trail look nice against the white powder, and I love the satisfying "whoosh" sound as you round each gate. The top of the course features a scenic mountain backdrop and a bright red finish line awaits you at the bottom.

The steering controls are nearly effortless as you lean from side-to-side while trying to control your momentum. Making contact with a gate will slow you down and penalize your time. Occasionally you'll need to jump over a rocky ridge using the lower side buttons, and it's exciting when you barely clear the rocks. The upper buttons allow for tight turns but I feel like it's more important to keep my fingers on the jumping controls. Due to lousy controller design you can really only commit to one or the other.

In addition to the downhill course there's the slalom which requires a more deliberate approach as you weave through tightly-spaced gates. The value you enter for slope (1-16) is critical as it determines how fast you can go. I recommend 8 as it's fast enough that you'll never get stuck in a rut. Your score is the best of three runs and it's fun to shave seconds off your best time. I just wish you didn't have to hit the reset button to play again! Other than that annoying oversight Skiing is a fun, well designed game. Boots and goggles are optional but recommended for realism. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: downhill slope 8
Our high score: 59.6 sec
1 to 6 players 

Slam Dunk Super Pro Basketball
Grade: B+
Publisher: INTV (1987)
Posted: 2004/6/4

screenshotHoly cow! This basketball game has amazing depth for an old-school title. Slam Dunk Super Pro bears a striking resemblance to Mattel's NBA Basketball (1979), but the similarities stop there. This cart has so many features you'd think it was a Playstation game. No real teams are included, but you can draft fictional players and customize your own roster! Each player has unique attributes, and you have a fixed budget with which to assemble a team.

Although the look of the game hasn't improved much over NBA Basketball, Super Pro is noticeably faster and far more fun. Players move up and down the floor smoothly, and you really can slam-dunk. The list of features is extensive. You can shoot three-pointers, call time-outs, substitute players, and examine player statistics during the game. You can even get fouled while in the act of shooting. In the one-player mode, there are five skill levels to choose from.

The controls are fair, but passing is more confusing than it should be, and I wish they hadn't differentiated "set shots" from "jump shots". I hate how you can't adjust the duration of each game, and the default 48 minutes is awfully long. Super Pro Basketball is not glitch-free; sometimes a player will soar high into the air - but instead of dunking he'll head for the exit! Despite the problems, this is still one of the best sports games I've seen on the Intellivision. As usual, INTV went well beyond the call of duty with this quality remake. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Slap Shot: Super Pro Hockey
Grade: D-
Publisher: INTV (1986)
Posted: 2009/11/25

screenshotTime has not been kind to Intellivision hockey games. The sport generally translates well to video games, but fossils like Slap Shot: Super Pro Hockey are best left buried deep within the earth's crust. A marginal upgrade to NHL Hockey (Mattel, 1979), Slap Shot offers a CPU opponent option and an enlarged rink.

Unfortunately, Slap Shot is saddled with the same sluggish engine that sucked the fun out of NHL Hockey (Mattel, 1979). And believe it or not, the color scheme is even worse! I can count players of five different colors on the rink at a time! This time the players look like walruses, but they do move slightly faster.

Your shooting angles are severely limited, and your chances of scoring are slim unless the goalie falls down. Those are some impressive head-over-heels flipping animations, but the weak body checks hardly warrant such theatrics.

I really wish Slap Shot provided the option to adjust the game length, because playing this for 60 real-time minutes would be torture! I can only recommend Slap Shot to whoever enjoyed the original NHL Hockey game, if such a person does indeed exist. At least Slap Shot lets you play against the CPU, and we all know how misery loves company. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Grade: C
Publisher: Mattel (1981)
Posted: 2002/2/5

screenshotAtari veterans will immediately recognize this game as Surround. Each player guides a box around the screen, leaving a trail and trying to be the last one to run into a wall. Been there done that right? Well, yes and no. Snafu offers some interesting variations, including diagonal movement, up to four simultaneous trails, and random obstacles. I can't get enough of the music, which is easily the best I've ever heard on the system. It's a far cry from those boring beeps you hear in most Intellivision games. Snafu isn't an exceptional one player experience, but it's pretty good with two players. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
1 or 2 players 

Space Armada
Grade: D-
Publisher: Mattel (1981)
Posted: 2010/3/31

screenshotSpace Armada was Mattel's answer to Space Invaders, and while the game might look like a million bucks (in 1981 currency), it plays more like a buck-fifty. The graphics are the highlight, with sizable aliens that come in four different varieties. Across the top are slimy purple creatures with dangling tentacles. The next row is composed of yellow "stomping" machines, followed by more traditional green aliens with antennas. Across the bottom are orange bird creatures with powerful talons! Aliens drop bombs that slither down the screen and explode on contact.

Space Armada is pretty good until you start playing it. The controls are jerky and inexact, and pressing the side buttons to shoot is uncomfortable as hell. Thank goodness you can hold them in to engage auto-fire. The collision detection is not good. Shots typically pass half-way through an alien before killing it, and some shots inexplicably destroy two at a time!

The barriers don't incur damage exactly where you shoot them, which makes it tough to strategically poke holes. The aliens can actually overlap with the barriers, and that just doesn't look right. In later waves the aliens are invisible, sending the fun factor on a downward spiral. Nobody enjoyed the "invisible invader" variations in the Atari 2600 game, but there's no way to avoid it here. Space Armada looks good, but the more you play it, the more you wish you weren't. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 4990
1 player 

Space Battle
Grade: A
Publisher: Mattel (1979)
Posted: 2020/8/13

screenshotThe level of sophistication displayed by this space simulation is nothing short of remarkable. Space Battle presents you with a radar display showing several alien squadrons closing in on your base. Making excellent use of the keypad you can independently deploy up to three squadrons (blue, white, and gold) to intercept the alien forces. Upon making contact you switch to a first-person view.

Here you guide a crosshair around the screen, leading your shots to blast alien craft whirling about. Enemies resemble Cylon starships from Battlestar Galactica and their movements are anything but predictable. Just when you think you have a bead on one he'll spin around and change course. Rotating and scaling was considered a big deal in the 1990's so it's pretty astonishing to see the technology used so effectively in a 1979 (!) title.

Enemy explosions can take out nearby ships, and once I witnessed a chain reaction that destroyed four ships with a single shot! Between battles you can redirect your squadrons to address the most serious threats. When multiple battles are happening concurrently the computer takes control although it's only minimally effective. The action becomes more intense as your squadron is whittled down. Can you beat the odds? Space Battle is a showcase title for the Intellivision, blending strategic maneuvering with twitch shooting fun. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Space Hawk
Grade: C+
Publisher: Mattel (1981)
Posted: 2000/3/26

screenshotAt first glance, I thought Space Hawk was incredibly lame. You control a guy floating around space in a jet pack, shooting bubbles at alien ships that appear one at a time. But there are two things that save this game from mediocrity: the "auto-fire" and "drift" modes. The auto-fire saves your thumb by constantly shooting for you, and the drift mode keeps your man moving, even after you stop thrusting.

As in Asteroids, It's always fun to thrust across the screen halfway out of control. One thing that puts a damper on the action however, is the fact that you can't touch explosions without losing a life. Since your man is moving at high speeds, this leads to many undeserved deaths. It would have been great to pass right through the explosions. Still, Space Hawk is a respectable little shooter. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: fastest
Our high score: 1540
1 player 

Space Patrol
Grade: A+
Publisher: Left Turn Only (2007)
Posted: 2009/8/22

screenshotIt's truly astonishing what some of today's programmers can do with classic hardware. I've seen some great homebrews in my time, but Space Patrol falls into the "Are you [expletive] kidding me?! Get the [expletive] out of here!" category. This is the kind of game that will have your friends exclaiming in disbelief, "This is the Intellivision?!" Space Patrol is basically the best Moon Patrol clone you'll ever play - even surpassing the excellent Atari 5200 version.

Its gameplay consists of guiding a moon rover over a planet surface while blasting bomb-dropping UFOs in the sky and jumping over hazards on the surface. The fact that you have to do two things at once is what gives the game its challenge and intensity. Moving your vehicle further to the right increases its speed, making it possible to take longer leaps over multiple obstacles. Your ship's missiles cancel out incoming projectiles, and this is vital to your survival. Some aliens actually bomb the surface to create craters, so stay alert for that.

Space Patrol also features new hazards like "smuggler" ships that sneak up from behind and shooting turrets that appear in your path. The animation is remarkably smooth and the visuals are extremely attractive. Your vehicle, while blocky, exudes an old-school charm, and I love the way its wheels bounce independently over the terrain. Whoever programmed this was really good, because each of the three backdrop layers moves at a different rate. I also like the high-resolution "explosion" effects. The lettered checkpoint system gives the player a sense of accomplishment, and there are even continue options and high score screens!

Sound too good to be true? What if I told you there was a stage select that lets you play on the Moon, Mercury, Mars, or Pluto?? Now how much would you pay? Hell, I can't even complain about the controls, which are responsive and easy to grasp. A nice set of overlays comes with the game, although they didn't quite fit into my controllers. Space Patrol totally caught me off guard. First-rate homebrews like this prove that classic consoles can be every bit as fun as modern machines. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: Moon/Beginner
Our high score: 482,750
1 player 

Space Spartans
Grade: B
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
Posted: 2000/3/19

screenshotAtari 2600 players will recognize this immediately as a Star Raiders clone. Space Spartans is your typical first-person shooter where your mission is to destroy all the aliens while maintaining your energy, computer, and shields. The screen toggles between map and cockpit views.

Space Spartans may not get points for originality, but at least it uses voice synthesis to good effect. Normally this type of game would indicate the status of your systems using colors or symbols. In Space Spartans however, you get briefed by one of several voices. The voices sound clear and provide critical information, including warnings about damage and space station attacks.

You have fine-grained control of all of your systems, but there's an inordinate amount of button pushing involved. The combat aspect of the game is good but not great. Overall, Space Spartans is a little complicated, but provides enough intergalactic shooting satisfaction. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 3
Our high score: 14660
1 player. 

Spiker Super Pro Volleyball
Grade: B+
Publisher: Intelligent Vision (1989)
Posted: 2019/9/11

screenshotCited as the last Intellivision game to be released worldwide, Spiker was a fitting swan song. It proved the Intellivision hardware could run sophisticated sports titles on par with the likes of Kings of the Beach (NES, 1988). This game impresses on so many levels, beginning with the number of options. You play against the CPU or human, selecting one of six skill levels for each side. You can also field two or six players per team. While two-on-two might sound easier, in fact the six-on-six action is better because there's always a player in the vicinity of the ball.

The beach court is beautiful with rolling waves and distant sunbathers. The players are solid-colored and blocky, but their animations look great as they serve, dig, dive, and wind up for spikes. The well-designed controls let you automatically bump the ball by moving beneath it, and the game does a fine job of selecting the closest player. Super Pro Volleyball is challenging. Spiking requires perfect position and timing, and it's hard to get the ball over the net. It's also hard to anticipate where the ball will come down, as it tends to be slow and floaty.

Still the game has remarkable depth. Players rotate between serves. You get penalized for touching the net, and the net shakes when the ball is hit into it. The ball can also bounce off the top of the net in an unpredictable manner. Spiker's leisurely pace may test the attention spans of today's gamers, but from a technical standpoint this is outstanding. Note: I recommend playing on the Intellivision Flashback system which benefits from softer buttons. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Spina the Bee
Grade: C-
Publisher: IntelligentVision (2012)
Posted: 2012/4/11

screenshotHere's yet another lost Intellivision title that is only now seeing the light of day. Spina the Bee (originally entitled "Zzzz!") exudes the spirit of Spring with colorful flowers and pollination themes. I don't think I've ever seen a game like this before. You control a nicely animated bee on a side-scrolling screen of large flowers. Hey - that looks like a real bee!

The screen scrolls slowly but constantly, and you need to keep up. By hovering over a flower you extract pollen, causing it to change color. Carefully navigate so you don't touch the green leaves or stems, as they will cost you points. Spina's detailed graphics feature many varieties of flowers including dangerous Venus Flytraps.

Advanced levels add dragonflies, spiders, and raindrops into the mix. I like the way raindrops splash on the flowers. The game's background "music" features buzzing sounds played at different octaves, and the theme song sounds like it's being sung by a chorus of bees. You can't knock the audio and video, but the control is another story.

Your bee is pretty agile at the start of each level, but quickly becomes weighed down with pollen. It starts to become a chore just to keep your bee aloft, and applying constant pressure to the controller will kill your thumb! Between stages you're presented with a nice honeycomb screen showing your score breakdown as well as the high score. Spina the Bee comes up short in the fun department, but it's still a good-looking and interesting addition to any collection. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 1930
1 player 

Stadium Mud Buggies
Grade: C-
Publisher: INTV (1988)
Posted: 2021/10/10

screenshotOn paper at least, Stadium Mug Buggies is amazing. Its pseudo-3D visuals and realistic physics are so impressive my friend Brad compared it to Super Off Road (Genesis, 1992). Mud Buggies bears a strong resemblance to Motocross (Mattel, 1983), except with larger vehicles, tighter controls, and far more options.

There are a whopping nine different event types including hill climb, drag race, tug-o-war, and donuts. You'll jump bridges, splash through water, and crush rows of cars. You can tailor every aspect from number of laps to the control scheme to difficulty level. You can race for best time or go head-to-head against a friend or CPU. What's not to like?

Well, since you asked, why is it so hard to tell the front of your vehicle from the back? While not a serious issue when playing solo, but it's extremely disorienting when you collide with an opponent and get spun around several times.

The shifting system is super confusing. The accelerate button doubles as your gear shift, and since there's no screen indicator you have no idea what gear you're in. I find my buggy randomly speeding up and slowing down. It's infuriating when you're struggling to reach the top of a hill, only to begin rolling backwards instead.

In the two-player mode when one buggy falls behind it gets sucked back onto the screen, making it feel as if you're dragging each other up the hills! When playing Brad I had to step away to answer the phone. Wouldn't you know, when I returned my buggy was in the same position, trailing closely behind his.

Stadium Mud Buggies is a technical marvel with convincing 3D graphics boasting changing elevations and rich environments. It's a shame the controls are so obtuse. The options menu includes everything but the kitchen sink, but it can take a while to find the right combination of settings for you. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: hill
Our high score: 77.2
1 or 2 players 

Grade: A-
Publisher: Activision (1982)
Posted: 2009/9/22

screenshotFor such a short and simple game, Stampede packs a lot of fun! This game was highly underrated in its day, but over the years I think people are starting to realize what an ingenious little game this is. You guide a cowboy on horseback up and down the left side of the screen, lassoing steer that approach from the right. Cattle of different shades approach at varying rates, and you can "nudge" groups of them to keep them in front.

The game ends when three pass you by, but you're awarded a "free steer" for every 1000 points (how many games can say that?) The tan-colored cattle are pretty easy to lasso, but those stationary "black angus" cows appear without warning, so you really need to be on your toes to snag them (a little luck never hurts either).

While this is a close approximation to the original Atari 2600 version, there tends to be less steer on the screen at any given time. Also, your lasso has less range here, which will give Intellivision fans a serious case of "lasso envy". The cowboy is high in resolution, but the steer looks somewhat pixelated. The audio is limited to the steady "clop clop" of hooves. Thoughtfully designed and well programmed, Stampede will have you playing until your thumb is sore. And since you'll be using an Intellivision controller, that shouldn't take very long! © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 2,658
1 player 

Star Strike
Grade: D
Publisher: Mattel (1982)
Posted: 2000/4/13

screenshotStar Strike generated quite a bit of hype in 1982. With its pseudo-3D graphics, it brought to mind the awesome Death Star trench scene from Star Wars. I recall watching a commercial for this game and being extremely envious of the system's graphic capabilities. You view your tiny ship from a third-person perspective, and your goal is to bomb five targets in the trench.

Star Strike's gameplay is predictable: two aliens appear behind you and shoot a few times before moving into your range. Don't concentrate too much on those guys though, because bombing the targets is your main goal.

The worst part of this game is waiting for the single target you haven't hit yet to cycle back around. Once you hit all five, the planet disintegrates below you. If you're unsuccessful, you'll witness the Earth being destroyed in the distance, which is also pretty cool. The graphics are nice for a 1981 game, but Star Strike's gameplay is definitely weak. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Grade: D+
Publisher: Parker Bros (1983)
Posted: 2007/2/3

screenshotIt took a few years for the Atari 2600 version of Empire Strike Back to win me over, so I was hoping this version might also grow on me. No such luck! Upon turning it on, you're treated to a rendition of the Star Wars theme that's almost on key. Hey, it's the Intellivision - we'll take what we can get! The object of this side-scrolling shooter is to keep a parade of advancing Imperial Walkers at bay on the ice planet of Hoth. This game might have been a lot of fun if not for the choppy animation and imprecise controls.

Your Snowspeeder and the approaching Walkers are slightly more detailed than on the Atari, and I love the mechanical sound effects that accompany the stomps of the huge Walkers. Holding down the side buttons engages rapid-fire, allowing you to unleash a steady barrage of missiles. Unfortunately, keeping the Walker in your sights is frustratingly difficult thanks to the clumsy, unresponsive controls. You can't maneuver very well at all, and once Walkers begin unleashing their heat-seeking missiles, your Rebel ass is toast. These Walkers only require 30 hits to take down (compared to 48 on the Atari), but trying to nail their "weak spot" is nearly impossible.

The scrolling effects of the hills and valleys are rough, making it difficult to land on a level area to initiate repairs. And why did the programmer paint the sky that putrid shade of yellow? Intellivision owners clearly got the short end of the stick with this one. For the record, my friend Jonathan holds the record for lowest score in Empire Strike Back for the Intellivision, netting a paltry 12 points in his very first game. Needless to say, I derived more enjoyment from mocking him than playing this game. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

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Recommended variation: 3
1 or 2 players 

Grade: A
Publisher: Arnauld Chevallier (2004)
Posted: 2010/11/11

screenshotIntelligentVision produced several impressive homebrew titles for Intellivision, and this is probably the best of the bunch. Stonix is a very sophisticated version of Breakout, very much along the lines of Arkanoid. As soon as you lay your eyes on the title screen, you know this is a quality product. The well-designed menus, easy-to-read text, and futuristic music are appealing. There's even an option to enter a password.

Each stage offers a colorful brick configuration, including a few that appear video game-inspired. Your "deflector" can be a little slippery to control, but that just adds to the challenge. Stonix is less forgiving than other Breakout clones. If the ball hits either edge of the paddle, it will bounce downward and you'll lose it. As you knock out bricks various power-ups rain down, allowing you to collect bonus points, extend your deflector, catch the ball, or initiate multiple balls.

One power-up even arms you with a cannon so you can blast chunks out of the wall directly. On top of that, there are flying objects that collide with the ball and alter its trajectory. With so much going on, there's rarely a dull moment. The futuristic background music has a subtle reverberating quality that's very effective. Stonix is expertly programmed and a perfect fit for the Intellivision console. You hardly need an appreciation for classic gaming to enjoy this outrageously fun title. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 1513
Save mechanism: Password
1 or 2 players 

Sub Hunt
Grade: C-

screenshotOf all the classic consoles the Intellivision had the most sophisticated games, often focusing on strategy over fast action. In Sub Hunt you control a fleet of four submarines on a mission to destroy convoys of ships. You begin with a high-level map that lets you position your subs into the path of the convoy. The game then switches to your short-range radar, employing first-person navigation and a periscope view.

To properly play Sub Hunt you'll need both the instructions and keypad overlay. This game is super complicated! One reader wrote in offering a few tips like positioning your sub in the path of the convoy and shutting off your sonar and engines for maximum stealth. The game gets fun once they begin destroying ships. Watching them sink into the depths while leaving behind a plume of smoke is satisfying.

Taking out the destroyer is apparently key to victory, but I could never zero in on that bad boy. There were times I was taking hits like crazy but could not locate my attacker! The manual suggests using the reverse button but it wasn't very effective and there's no way to tell how much damage you've sustained. Sub Hunt is a complex, realistic simulation that requires patience and experimentation. I don't think it's a bad game; it just requires a higher level of commitment than I could muster. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Super Chef BT
Grade: A-
Publisher: IntelligentVision (2013)
Posted: 2014/8/17

screenshotSuper Chef BT is an enhanced version of the Intellivision Classic Burgertime (Data East, 1982). It's easy to upgrade a mediocre game, but how do you improve upon one of the best games for the system? Well, you add about 70 new stages and randomize them! Uh... yeah, that should do the trick! The excellent graphics of the original version are back, along with all the strategy involved with outsmarting hot dogs, pickles, and eggs while building mega-sized burgers.

Most of the enhancements are minor (more item graphics, new sounds, new messages), but the fact that pepper is more ubiquitous is the best part. The new ability to "freeze" all enemies seems pretty useless considering it costs two peppers to use. Super Chef BT is a blast to play but I couldn't help but notice a few missed opportunities.

As in the original game, there is still a pronounced lag associated with spraying pepper to immobilize enemies. Also, I dislike how the bad guys still respawn in the middle of the screen. If they re-entered from the side at least you would have a fighting chance. That said, this homebrew offers a heck of a lot of burger-making goodness, and isn't that what we all want? My friend Chris described Super Chef BT as "just plain fun", and that pretty much sums it up. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 27,550
1 or 2 players 

Super Cobra
Grade: D+
Publisher: Parker Bros. (1983)
Posted: 2019/5/27

screenshotOnly recently did I discover Super Cobra was even released for the Intellivision. It's one of the more rare titles for the system and definitely mediocre. In the arcade Super Cobra was an explosive side-scrolling shooter. You piloted a chopper through rocky caverns, blowing up rockets and fuel depots along the way. Home consoles struggled to duplicate its intense shooting action and the Atari 2600 edition was a joke.

This Intellivision version doesn't look terrible but it controls poorly. Your helicopter is rendered in a single color, and it's relatively large with a spinning propeller. The caverns have a granular appearance and are lined with cannons, guided missiles, and dancing aliens. In the arcade you could shoot forward and drop bombs at the same time, but here you can only do one or the other.

Even if you could do both, it would be absolute torture with the Intellivision controller. The instructions give you the option to use the keypad to fire, but that causes your helicopter to jerk around unpredictably. Perhaps to compensate for the marginal controls, you begin with at 6 to 9 lives depending on the skill level.

One unique aspect of Super Cobra is how your score and fuel supply continuously scroll sideways along with the screen along with the scenery. I suspect this was probably done to simplify the programming. When you die the entire screen flashes and makes a lot of banging noises. Equally annoying is the demo mode that kicks in after each game. How do I exit that? Super Cobra looks presentable on the Intellivision I'm afraid its controls are nothing short of punishing. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 10409
1 or 2 players 

Super NFL Football
Grade: A-
Publisher: Mattel (1983)
Posted: 2012/10/9

screenshotThe Intellivision has some great football games, but this is the ultimate. Unreleased until 2012, the game requires the ECS module (with keyboard attachment). Super NFL Football has considerable depth and offers a few features even modern football games lack. First off, you can customize your playbook and save it to a tape drive - if only somebody owned one of those things!

Creating your own plays was innovative for the time, but the default playbook is more than sufficient. The option menu offers some nice customizations, including the ability to set quarter lengths. You can have the CPU control one or both teams. Once everything is set up, you type the word "football" to begin play. My friend Scott wise-cracked, "What happens if you type hockey?" Thankfully you can ditch that clunky keyboard once play is underway.

Unlike most classic football games that feature a "flat" field, Super NFL boasts skewed yard lines and scaling players to convey a modest illusion of depth. I love the attention to detail in this game. You can kick field goals, punt, or go for two-point conversions. The ball has a shadow so it's obvious when a quarterback overshoots his receiver. On kick-offs the receiving team can "kneel down" for a touchback. And when the ball hits the ground it actually bounces around! Okay, it looks more like a fish flopping around, but I love the random element.

There are fumbles and even pass deflections - some of which are actually caught! Each team has a full set of time-outs, and statistics are presented at halftime and post-game. The only thing missing are the cheerleaders! The action on the field moves fast, making it easy for runners to skirt through the line or fake out defensive backs. My only complaint is that it's hard to tell if a pass was caught or intercepted. There needs to be a special noise to indicate a turnover. After each score a comprehensive drive summary is displayed. Heck, even Madden 13 doesn't have that!

It takes a while to learn Super NFL Football, mainly because the instructions don't include the plays. Experimentation is required to learn the formations, and an annoying buzz hassles you when you hit the wrong keypad button. The game is not bug free. I've seen a player run in the wrong direction on his own, and one intercepted two-point conversion was ruled a safety. These glitches are the exception to the rule however. Super NFL Football is a real treat for classic football fans. Once you warm up to it, you'll be amazed. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Super Pro Baseball
Grade: B+
Publisher: IntelligentVision (2016)
Posted: 2017/8/27

screenshotSuper Pro Baseball feels like World Champion Baseball (Mattel, 1983) on steroids. The title screen plays a nice rendition of "take me out to the ballgame" to get you in the spirit of things. There's no set-up menu because Super Pro is a no-nonsense kind of game. You press 1 or 2 (for number of players) or 3 to watch the CPU play itself. The pace of the game is brisk to say the least. Heck, you can throw another pitch before the runner who just got tossed out even has a chance to run off the field!

Pitches move twice as fast as the original game, so batters need to be quick on the trigger. Statistics like balls, strikes, innings, and score are only displayed if you press enter, which makes the display look a lot cleaner. According to what I've read online the main impetus for this game was to provide a more challenging CPU competitor ("the computer really makes you work for the outs"). Was this really a problem? The computer always kicked my ass!

Whether you're playing against the CPU or a friend, outs are hard to come by. This is an offensive-minded game so expect a lot of balls bouncing off those invisible outfield fences. As its name implies Super Pro Baseball is for experts, so casual fans should stick to World Champion Baseball. Then again, once you get used to Super Pro's turbo speed, it might be hard to go back. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Super Pro Decathlon
Grade: D
Publisher: INTV (1988)
Posted: 2024/7/23

title screenYou gotta love Super Pro Decathlon's title screen. Nothing depicts the spirit of competition like a drunk white guy streaking in his tighty-whities. It's the next best thing to a bare ass in an official Intellivision release. The game also presents an image of a Greek temple along text challenging you to "achieve the ultimate score". I think Colin Jost already covered that when he landed Scarlett Johansson.

The game lets up to four players compete or you can practice the ten events individually. Practice mode incorporates brief "coaching" screens, but the instructions aren't crystal clear. Do you rock the directional pad, tap it, or roll it? Are you supposed to tap the jump button, or hold it in? You really need to experiment to figure it all out.

Your well-animated athlete is a black guy in white jockey shorts (a recurring theme). Running the 100m dash involves rapidly moving the directional pad which is much less fun than wagging a joystick. My friend Sudz discovered the most effective technique was to run your finger around the directional pad in a circular motion. Unfortunately this results in a painful medical condition he coined "finger burn". No bueno! Upon reaching the finish line your guy bends over and breathes heavily. Sometimes it's the little things the count!

The jump events are broad jump, high jump, triple jump, and pole vault. Some of these have multiple lines printed on the run-up track, making it hard to tell when you're supposed to take your leap! My pathetic high jump attempts left my guy flopping on the pavement like a fish. Sudz however managed to clear the bar and land on the soft yellow sponge, prompting him to label this event "sponge worthy".

The throwing events (shot-put, discus, javelin) are probably the most fun because they're short and sweet. The 110m hurdle is a pain because the Intellivision controller is not conducive to tapping the directional pad while hitting buttons. The 400m is a pain in the more literal sense. I gotta hand it to my man Sudz. He gave the controller hell over the course of this lengthy, excruciating event. When asked about his manhandling of the controller, he stated "Show it no mercy, for it will show you none."

Except for some olympic-style music there's little fanfare in Super Pro Decathlon. When the competition ends, the screen just cycles through all the event results. I will give the game credit for realism however. Each of these events is every bit as grueling and exhausting as the real thing! Note: Reviewed on an Intellivision Flashback console. © Copyright 2024 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: SDZ 3855
1 to 4 players 

Super Pro Football
Grade: A-
Publisher: INTV (1986)
Posted: 2003/10/21

screenshotIf you thought NFL Football (Mattel, 1979) was good, you'll flip over Super Pro. The game begins with a flashy intro showing a stadium, scoreboard, and even a blimp flying overhead! The field and players look just like they do in NFL Football, but when the play calling screen appears, you'll realize this is not your father's football game (well, actually it is but that's beside the point).

On offense, you choose between nine formations, and individually program the routes of both receivers through a string of button presses! It would be tedious to program both receivers before every play, but you can skip this step by keeping the same routes from the previous play. It's possible to be creative, setting up streaks, hooks, slants, or anything else you can imagine. You can even have your receiver stop momentarily and then start running again.

On defense there are nine formations and the option to blitz or set pass coverage. On top of all that, you can even view live stats or call a timeout! Once the action is underway, the biggest surprise is how the football has a shadow and moves on an arc. Passing is somewhat choppy and inexact, but the kicking game is very good. Blockers actually block (sometimes), and you can run out of bounds.

After a score, you're treated to a pair of commentators talking silently at a desk as various statistics flash on the screen. Heck, with all these bells and whistles I'm surprised there's no halftime show. As ambitious at Super Pro Football is, the increased realism does take a slight toll on the fun factor.

Entering plays and pass routes is time consuming, and it takes a lot of practice to become proficient in the passing game (although the CPU seems to have no problem). And where's the play clock? You can let the clock run indefinitely if you want to. Super Pro features ten difficulty levels, a challenging CPU opponent, and the most sophisticated gameplay you'll find in a classic football game. But I'd only recommend it to patient, strategy-minded football fans. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Super Pro Tennis
Grade: B+
Publisher: Intelligent Vision (2013)
Posted: 2014/8/3

screenshotSuper Pro Tennis marks the welcome return of the side-view of the court introduced way back by the original Tennis (Intellivision, 1980). Super Pro offers a number of minor improvements (faster pacing, more options) but the main draw is the new single-player mode. It plays great and is available at several skill levels. There's very little "dead time" in this game. Once you move into position to receive, the CPU automatically serves (no extra button pushing required).

Super Pro builds upon the solid foundation of the original game, which was extraordinary to begin with. Serves and volleys can be hit hard or soft, resulting in a nice risk-reward dynamic. The players scurry quickly around the court, and a shadow makes it easy to determine the trajectory of the ball. The wide viewing angle means the ball has to travel farther, allowing you enough time to properly position your player. It's wise to play deep, and players often linger near the edge of the screen where they are barely visible.

The gameplay is fun but I wish the lob shot were more effective, as it never goes deep enough. The set-up could be more intuitive as well. For some reason selecting the number of players and difficulty has to be done with the right controller - and that's after the players have taken the court. It's confusing at first, but I'll give Super Pro Tennis a ton of credit for effectively resurrecting an underrated classic. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Swords & Serpents
Grade: B+
Publisher: Imagic (1983)
Posted: 2000/6/10

screenshotThis is a rare game with more arcade action than your standard dungeon crawler. Player one plays a warrior, and if there's a second player, he's a wizard with the ability to cast spells. As you traverse a dungeon maze from an overhead viewpoint, you'll seek out scrolls, treasure, and a key needed to enter the next level. Although the levels aren't particularly large, it can still be tricky to locate the key.

Your warriors move a bit slowly, but the control is generally excellent. On your quest you'll face off against phantom warriors and wizards. Fighting involves touching the enemy with your sword, which makes an appealing "clank" sound. A status screen keeps track of your loot. Should you make it through all four levels and encounter the serpent, you'll be in for a real treat. Swords and Serpents is fun enough to keep you coming back for another try. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

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