- Atari was riding high as market leader in the first true console war and Mattel was making some ground attracting gamers with its more high-tech Intellivision. Coleco was a company that did well in the mid '70s with its Pong clones but had begun to fade from relevance since then. That was until that summer when they launched the ColecoVision in North America. The Atari 5200 and GCE Vectrex came out later in the year.
Graphically, the ColecoVision was noticeably more powerful than the previous consoles, and more capable of doing arcade games justice. Atari had already the console rights to many of the big arcade games of the day but Coleco managed to get Donkey Kong, and wisely chose to have it as the pack-in title. It was kind of like the Dreamcast in that it started of selling pretty well but after a couple years it faded, was discounted, and abandoned aside from a few stray titles. Coleco lost a ton of money on their ADAM computer variation as well.
I never owned the system until later but an uncle of mine got it shortly after it came out so I got to play many awesome games during its heyday.
Its library of games is very high quality but it does have one flaw, a lack of exclusives. Most of the best first-party games are arcade ports and most of the best third-party games are ports from other home systems.
While this does lessen the impact of the console to someone playing it today, I don’t consider it obsolete by any means. In some cases, it has the best version of a game, in some cases it has a lesser version that’s different enough to still be worth playing, and in some cases I do find a version obsolete. Still, in general, I find the older I get, the more I like playing various versions of games because of the slight differences.
Arguably the coolest add-on on the market back then, the Expansion Module #1 allowed ColecoVision owners to play Atari 2600 games on their system. The graphics do have a slightly different look to them but it’s still very close to the real Atari experience.
20 quality ColecoVision games:
Donkey Kong Jr.
Even better than the first one. I still go back to this port despite having access to better looking versions.
Mr. Do’s Castle
This is still underrated, and one of the best pre-Tetris puzzle games out there. It’s about linking all the pipes so everything flows together. The pseudo-Asian music is catchy, too. The game originated on Atari 8-bit but the graphics are slightly improved in the C64 and Coleco versions.
The underrated sequel to Berzerk.
There’s no Pepper 1 as far as I know so I don’t understand the naming. Great Amidar-like game, though.
I still say this game has the best “you have just died” tune.
Ah, the era where out of shape, moustachioed blue collar game heroes besides the Mario brothers could thrive.
This plays as well as any of the computer versions. The only thing it’s missing is the level editor from Boulder Dash Construction Kit.
2010: The Graphic Action Game
B.C.'s Quest For Tires
More detailed than the 2600 original.
I loved this puzzle game as a kid (although I had the C64 version which is a bit nicer looking). It was one of the few games the teachers would let us play in class.
I still think the C64 and Atari 800 versions are best (some prefer the more realistic style and easier jumping of the SMS remake) but this is still a great port.
Smurf: Rescue in Gargamel’s Castle
This was a sort of hint of what was to come in the platform genre. Like Pitfall!, it’s flip-screen, but it’s a step closer to Pac-Land and Super Mario Bros.-type scrolling mascot platformers.
It was never much for looks so it doesn’t suffer any downgrade from the computer versions. It’s basically a take on the maze chase genre but instead of roaming a maze freely, you control an extending arm that needs to pull back if anything’s going to touch it.
I should note that the VIC-20 port of Omega Race is my favourite shooter. The Coleco version doesn’t have the same level of smoothness in its gameplay and isn’t in its league. On the other hand, it does have some exclusive modes which interest me, most notably two-player simultaneous mode.