system Index A-E
Alien Invaders - Plus!
Grade: D-
Publisher: Magnavox (1978)
Reviewed: 2020/3/28

screenshotboxWhen it comes to all the Space Invaders (Atari 2600, 1980) clones out there, Alien Invaders is hands down the one with the most exciting... box art. It features a gigantic space serpent with four snakes for arms (!) and what appears to be an entire city encased in its domed head! Whoa. If only that grandiose vision translated a little better to the small screen. The aliens are just generic human shapes, although if you squint I guess they look like little red ETs. Below each alien are cannons that resemble orange mushrooms - and are no less lethal! Beneath those is a row of green circles that serve as an impervious barrier (they suck). Your laser cannon at the bottom is shaped like a wide pyramid. When destroyed a little guy escapes who can run up to a remaining shield to form another cannon. So you essentially have four lives per round. It's hard to take aim at the aliens as they abruptly shift from side-to-side. Instead of a conventional scoring system (which would have been a good idea) your goal is to win ten rounds. You score a single point by clearing a screen of invaders, and they score by depleting your set of lives. You know it's a dumb system when you nail that mother ship at the top and don't have a damn thing to show for it. And then she regenerates! It all sounds perfectly awful, but the true test of any game comes when you actually try to beat it. It's no War of the Worlds, but Alien Invaders is certainly a challenge. Enemy cannons strike like lightning, and when the mother ship descends with that all-seeing eye, things get intense. I noticed that shooting just along the edge of each shield provides some much-needed cover. Upon losing all your cannons, your dude is just left standing there waiting to be shot. I did have one dramatic moment when I lost my last cannon just before hitting the last alien for the win. I ended up losing 10-8, but that might be for the best, because after beating Alien Invaders Plus there would be little incentive to play it again. And I'm still trying to figure out what the "Plus" is. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
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Our high score: 8-10
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Math Gran Prix (Atari 2600)
Flag Capture (Atari 2600)
Phalanx (Super Nintendo)
Astro Battle (Bally Astrocade)
Pirate's Chase (Bally Astrocade)

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 

If you like this game, try: Skiing (Atari 2600)
Downhill (Atari XEGS)
Mountain Madness: Super Pro Skiing (Intellivision)
Slalom (NES)
Mogul Maniac (Atari 2600)

Grade: A-
Publisher: Rafael Alexandre (2016)
Reviewed: 2017/9/30

screenshotThis is one of the most original Odyssey 2 games I've ever played. Combining live action with RPG elements, Amityville is half Dungeons and Dragons and half Haunted House (Atari 2600, 1982). As you step through a dark mansion the interior scrolls downward as a flashlight illuminates the area directly ahead. My friend Chris complained about some flicker in the background but I didn't really notice. The footstep sound effects are fantastic and there's even voice module support ("Danger! Attack!"). Just like in a real haunted house, you only get fleeting glimpses of the dangers that lie ahead. A horizontal strip across the center gives you a narrow peek, and intermittent lightning flashes illuminate the screen. Your goal is to find chests which contain diamonds and magic items. You'll also encounter spiders, bats, skeletons, and ghosts. The battles are surprisingly fun. You repeatedly "roll a dice" to reduce the monster's hit points as he slowly encroaches upon you. I wish you didn't have to wait five seconds between attacks, but I like the suspense. Magic items add a strategic element. The frog eye pushes a creature back a step, and the snake tongue can kill it with one blow. The vulture feature will award you with 150 points for sacrificing a turn. You can only hold one item at a time, and it can be hard to remember which one you're carrying. I love the attention to detail (666 score in manual screenshot) and not-so-subtle horror elements (upside-down cross on title screen). Amityville seems slow at first but I became obsessed with this ingenious little action-strategy homebrew. Still trying to reach 666! © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 640
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Haunted House II 3D (Atari 5200)
Namco Museum Volume 5 (Playstation)
Snake Rattle and Roll (NES)
Haunted House (Atari 2600)
Nightmare (Europe) (Odyssey 2)

Grade: C-
Publisher: John Dondzila (1998)
Reviewed: 2015/1/18

screenshotOriginally billed as the "first new Odyssey 2 game in 15 years", this was one of John Dondzilla's first homebrew projects and it looks the part. Amok feels like a rough draft of Berzerk (Atari 2600, 1982), as you run through of series of screens populated with robots that want to kill you. Sometimes they fire big white beach balls your way, and sometimes they just walk into the electrified walls. The AI is meant to be poor - watching them destroy themselves is part of the fun. Amok is faster than your garden-variety Berzerk clone. You can dart around quickly, but accidental collisions result in many deaths. You fire in eight directions, but the bullets come out of your head, making it hard to line up targets. After about 10 seconds an invincible bouncing head chases you off the screen, and you never know where he's going to enter. Upon starting each new screen, you have to wait for your man to flash about 5 times before you can move, which is annoying. Then you have to immediately start working your way towards an exit to assure your escape. In the case of the brutal fourth screen, sometimes even that strategy isn't good enough. The game suffers from sporadic bugs (especially with regards to collision detection) and stilted pacing makes it hard to get into the flow. Still, Amok fills a niche in the Odyssey 2 library, and its rough edges won't keep you from playing it over and over again. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 500
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Berzerk (Vectrex)
Insanity (Turbografx-16)
Berzerk Debugged (Vectrex)
Escape (Arcadia 2001)
Marauder (Atari 2600)

Armored Encounter/Sub Chase
Grade: C
Publisher: Magnavox (1978)
Reviewed: 2020/11/4

screenshotI was dismissive of Armored Encounter/Sub Chase in my initial review but I'm starting to come around. As you probably guessed this is two games in one. The tank portion is a head-to-head battle that bears an uncanny resemblance to Combat (Atari 2600, 1977) with similar tank designs, screen layouts, and even sound effects. You get 12 battlefields to choose from with various barriers and mine (!) configurations. Half the variations offer guided missiles, and with a little practice you can thread the needle for some precision kills. The problem is, after your tank is destroyed it's not relocated, making it possible for your opponent to land several successive hits. It is however possible to put your tank in reverse, something you can't do in Combat. One thing not readily apparently is how you only get 20 shots, which you'll almost certainly exhaust before the three minute time limit is up. During one battle my friend Scott M. pretended he was out of shots, only to start lighting my ass up when I came out of hiding! He is one sneaky bastard! Sub-Chase looks more like Air-Sea Battle (Atari 2600, 1978) with one player flying an airplane and the other navigating a sub in the water below. You fire guided missiles at each other while trying to avoid hitting ships crossing in the center. Strike one accidentally and you lose a point. The controls are tricky because you're throttling your speed and guiding a missile at the same time. As with the tank variations, this one is fun for a round or three. I don't think Armored Encounter can match Combat's level of fun but it's every bit as competitive. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
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2 players 

If you like this game, try: Combat (Atari 2600)
Sea Wolf/Missile (Bally Astrocade)
Air-Sea Battle (Atari 2600)
Robot War/Torpedo Alley (Fairchild Channel F)
Sea Battle (Intellivision)

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.
Our high score: 52000
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Atlantis (Atari 2600)
Space Invaders (Atari 5200)
Atlantis (Atari XEGS)
Bubble Bobble (NES)
Commando Raid (Atari 2600)

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.
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Our high score: 493
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Astro Battle (Bally Astrocade)
Demon Attack (Odyssey 2)
Berzerk Voice Enhanced (Atari 2600)
Gyruss (Atari 2600)
Space Frenzy (Vectrex)

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 

If you like this game, try: Baseball (NES)
Major League Baseball (Intellivision)
Dusty Diamonds Softball All-Stars (NES)
Tecmo Baseball (NES)
Super Challenge Baseball (Atari 2600)

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

If you like this game, try: Demon Attack (Atari 2600)
Off The Wall (Atari 2600)
Breakout (Atari 2600)
Brain Age (Nintendo DS)
Super Breakout (Atari XEGS)

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.
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Recommended variation: 1
Our high score: 99
1 or 4 players 

If you like this game, try: NBA Live 96 (Super Nintendo)
Nester's Funky Bowling (Virtual Boy)
Bowling (Fairchild Channel F)
Bowling (Intellivision)
NBA Live 96 (Genesis)

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.
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1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Las Vegas Blackjack (Odyssey 2)
Casino (Atari 2600)
Tiger Casino (Tiger
Fruit Ninja (Xbox 360)
Caesars World of Gambling (Philips CD-i)

Computer Golf
Grade: B-
Publisher: Magnavox (1979)
Reviewed: 2020/4/26

screenshotIt's difficult for me to imagine why I was initially so hard on Computer Golf considering it plays almost exactly like Golf (Atari 2600, 1980). Its 9-hole, par 36 course nicely captures the leisurely spirit of the sport. You control a blocky golfer who looks exactly like Lee Trevino. Each hole has a unique design but the only hazards are evergreen trees. Hit a tree and watch Lee Trevino shake his club in disgust. Man, this guy has some serious anger management issues! The course boundaries are kind of like the sand traps, since the ball has a tendency to get stuck in them. Once positioned for a shot, you hold in the button to "wind up" which determines how far the ball will travel. Make it to the green and you get a close-up for your putt. Fortunately the cup is pretty big and hard to miss. I've never been able to sink the ball on an approach shot, but I suspect it's possible. Up to four players can participate in a round. If there's a fault with Computer Golf, it's the fact that there's just only one course with the same configuration each time. That said, I had a good time trying to chip away at my best score. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 40
1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Golf (Atari 2600)
Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf (NES)
Golf (Arcadia 2001)
Chip Shot Super Pro Golf (Intellivision)
Leader Board Golf (Genesis)

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.
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Our high score: 643
1 player 

If you like this game, try: Star Voyager (Atari 2600)
Star Master (Atari 2600)
Nova Blast (Colecovision)
Rush 'N Attack (NES)
Star Trek (Vectrex)

Death Race
Grade: C
Publisher: Ivan Machado (2014)
Reviewed: 2015/2/17

screenshotboxBack in 1978 there was no Mortal Kombat (Genesis, 1993) or Night Trap (Sega CD, 1992) so parental advocates were forced to complain about Death Race instead. This 1976 Exidy arcade game challenged players to run down "gremlins" with race cars. Since these gremlins looked vaguely like people, community activists construed it as an all-out war on pedestrians! Nevermind the fact that there are no roads in the game. 37 years later Death Race has finally arrived home. The packaging offers fun artwork depicting two skeletons enjoying a joyride through a graveyard. Tucked inside the box is a clip from a Eugene Oregon newspaper condemning the game. Among the experts cited is a behavioral scientist (is that even a thing?) who explains the player "is no longer just a spectator, but now an actor in the process of creating violence." If only this game was half as twisted and demented as the article makes it out to be, I'd probably like it a lot more. In reality Death Race is a pretty tame head-to-head duel. Each 99-second contest begins with two cars on the bottom of the screen. The slick car designs and excellent steering hints that the Odyssey 2 might be a good candidate for an Indy 500-style racer. Running down the two scampering figures causes cross-shaped gravestones to appear in their place. It's a shame the voice module wasn't used to simulate screams. The crosses form obstacles that are really, really easy to get stuck on. The collision detection is unforgiving and it takes a few seconds just to get back up and running again. The head-to-head competition is moderately fun and you can also play solo for score. Death Race isn't much of a spectacle, but there's some novelty value here. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 26
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Indy 500 XE (Atari 2600)
Mortal Kombat II (Sega 32X)
Night Trap (CD) (Sega 32X)
Indy 500 (Atari 2600)
Mortal Kombat (Sega CD)

Demon Attack
Grade: B-
Publisher: Imagic (1982)
Reviewed: 2015/1/18

screenshotWhen it comes to video games, it doesn't get much more basic that Demon Attack. You move a cannon across the bottom of the screen shooting at waves of colorful, gyrating aliens that dance above. Aliens in advanced waves split into two small birds, which are tougher to hit and will attack kamikaze-style. The graphics are blockier than the Atari 2600 and there are only two large aliens per screen, but the gameplay feels the same. I love how the aliens materialize, and sometimes you can destroy them with an early shot before they even know what hit them. The default variation is straight shots, but since your missiles are relatively slow, I recommend the "tracer shot" variations that let you guide your missiles. Enemy bombs drop quickly, so you'll want to move immediately upon starting a new life or be instantly disintegrated. The harsh sound effect are limited to repetitive beeps and static. Demon Attack isn't anything spectacular, but it's always fun to see what the next wave has in store. Note: This game did not function correctly when the voice module was installed (kept restarting). © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: 2
Our high score: 3745
1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Demon Attack (Atari 2600)
Demon Attack (Intellivision)
Astro Battle (Bally Astrocade)
Condor Attack (Atari 2600)
Space Vultures (Arcadia 2001)

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 

If you like this game, try: Othello (Atari 2600)
Backgammon (Atari 2600)
Scrabble (Tiger
Quick Step (Atari 2600)
Command and Conquer (Nintendo 64)

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.
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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: NASL Soccer (Intellivision)
Realsports Soccer (Atari 2600)
Hockey/Soccer (Odyssey 2)
International Soccer (Atari 2600)
Mega Man Soccer (Super Nintendo)

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