The Intellivision II (Is it even worth it?)
Videogame consoles are rarely ever small, it doesn’t matter which generation you’re looking at whether it be the first, the eighth, or anywhere in between, these things are monstrous. But a game console rarely ever stays large, as technology get’s better and smaller, the consoles shrink with it, couple this with revised designs, and cheaper parts, and you have the birth of the slim console. A slim console is a console that is sold several years after its original release in a smaller more condensed package, the most startling of these would be the Playstation 2 Fat to the PS2 Slim which is about a quarter of the size. Almost every major console has a slim variant, with a few exceptions, either the console wasn’t successful enough to last long enough to get a slim variant, example being the 7800 or the Jaguar, or the company that made it just didn’t bother, lookin’ at you Original Xbox and Gamecube. Usually a slimmer more trimmed down console is an excellent idea, since it allows the company to then breathe new life into the aging console, though I’ll admit that there are a few that I just don’t get, mainly the Fairchild Channel F II which was released in 1979 four years before it’s official demise in 1983 even though the final officially released game was released in late 1981, and the Wii slim which didn’t need to happen since the thing was small enough to begin with.
As you know I’m a retro collector at heart and modern games and consoles don’t interest me all too much, with several exceptions, so I’m always overjoyed when I can get my hands on something that I’ve never seen before, whether it be a game, controller, or an entire console, much to the chagrin of my wallet. So you can imagine my joy when I finally got my hands on an Intellivision II console, which is the slim variant of the Mattel Intellivision, hence that first paragraph. I can see the appeal of the INTV2, the original is an absolute beast, resplendent in faux woodgrain, beveled edges and gold detailing; it reeks of the 1970’s. The INTV2 is tiny by comparison, being about as long as the original is wide, and gone is the woodgrain and gold, this thing matte grey in color with red and black detailing on the front and controllers, with nary a beveled edge in sight. Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo took inspiration from this thing when designing the NES. One final thing I appreciate greatly is the lack of any RF shielding (at least on mine) which means I don’t have to de-solder the RF shielding from the cartridge port just to get to the board for any possible repairs, and the chips are socketed which will make any future repairs all the easier.
I do have a few issues with the INTV2; some are small and others not quite as much. First off is the stupid almost proprietary power supply, thankfully you can use an Atari 5200 power supply instead but that isn’t too much better since most people don’t just have those lying around and prices on Ebay are less than fair, it is likely that you’ll pay more for the power supply than you will for the console itself. My second complaint is the power/reset button; they are one and the same, to turn the console on you simply press the button, to reset the console you simply press the button, and to turn the console off you simply press the button but a little longer maybe 5 seconds, this makes quickly swapping games impossible, perhaps this is nitpicking but it does get annoying. My third problem can actually be split into two parts, controller one and controller two, these things are absolutely dreadful, the numpads give almost zero indication of which button you’re pressing since there is no little bubble to press down on, only the hard plastic of the back of the controller, there are small ridges around each number but when you have an overlay in you can barely feel them. The side buttons are just the worst, they are hard plastic, with less travel than the numpad on the top of the controller, I seriously can’t tell if I’m actually pressing them down or not which leads me to press them even harder which makes the hard plastic dig into my fingers. Thankfully I have some Super Video Arcade controllers to swap with if things get too painful on my poor wittle fingoes. My final complaint is probably the least important, which is why I’m saving it for last, the controller bays on the top of the console cannot actually hold the controller cord properly, due to the age of the rubber of the cords, it is impossible to actually make the controllers rest flush with the console and they will always be popping out a little bit (post pictures of your INTV2 below looking perfect just to prove me wrong).
Honestly the only reason you should grab one of these is if you just don’t have any room left on your shelf for the original, Super Video Arcade, or the System III. The INTV2 is more expensive than an original or SVA, and its reliability, at least in my case since I seem to have the death touch, remains to be seen. The controllers are hot garbage that I can’t even open up due to them snapping together and not using screws, I’m afraid that I might break the plastic. Honestly the only real positives I have for the thing are that it looks cool and is small, otherwise it’s either the same or inferior to the console that preceded it. The Mattel Electronics Intellivision II takes two steps forward and one step back, and should only be bought if you actually well and truly really needed it, which I actually did. Don’t expect to pay less than 60 dollars for a working console likely without a power supply, you’ll probably get a bunch of 25 cent common as dirt games with it as well, if it doesn’t have a power supply then you’ll probably have to pay around 20 more dollars for either an aftermarket or 5200 power supply. You’re looking at around 80 dollars for a working Intellivision II with two working controllers, a power supply and a couple of games you likely already have, you can get an original or even a System III for half that if you bide your time. I was lucky and dug my console out of my local game store’s basement, he let me have it with a power supply for $31.64 apparently it’d been sitting in his basement for the better part of a decade and he was just happy to get rid of it. So for the first time I condemn a console to the Collectors Zone, unless you actually well and truly really need it.