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

Odyssey 2 Reviews B-C

Grade: B-
Publisher: Magnavox (1978)
Posted: 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.

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 things 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 

Grade: C-
Publisher: Magnavox (1980)
Posted: 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/Breakdown 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 

Grade: F
Publisher: Magnavox (1978)
Posted: 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 

Casino Slot Machine
Grade: D
Publisher: Magnavox (1978)
Posted: 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 

Computer Golf
Grade: B-

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 

Cosmic Conflict
Grade: C-
Publisher: Magnavox (1978)
Posted: 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 

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