Two games, one cart! Again!
Bowling! Odyssey^2, 1978
First off, in my book at least, ANY game in the 1970s that allows for four players gets my thumbs up. Not necessarily WAY up, but definitely "up".
Bowling! allows for up to four players. It uses a similar bowling formula that we've seen before on both the RCA Studio II and the APF MP1000: Oscillating ball at the bottom of the alley, press the button to send it and then use the controller for a one shot chance to hook the ball at just the right moment to knock down a number of pins. I can't say whether the pins simulate any sort of physics in terms of, "if pin A falls at a certain angle then pin B falls", and I haven't been able to get a spare on a split to test if I can "slide" a pin across the alley to knock over another pin. Again, it's my attention span we're talking about here. If I had a longer attention span, I'd still be playing Morrowind.
Two skill versions: League and Pro. Pro just has a faster moving ball, both while it oscillates and after you release it. For graphics, I'd say that the Odyssey^2 Bowling! has the prettiest color schemes. Each player gets their own themed screen. (See amalgamated Warhol-esque quad-shot below.)
Alas, the programmers did seem to have to make a sacrifice in allowing this to be four player and that's in the scoring. A strike is worth 30 points and a spare is worth 15. If you know how scoring in bowling works, you're likely to go, "eh?". See, normally, a spare in a frame means you take the ten points from the spare along with however many pins you knock down with your next ball and it gets added to the frame in which you got the spare. A strike would normally score similarly, except you add your next two balls to the strike's frame.
The Bally Professional Arcade handles its Bowling's special scoring just fine, but the RCA Studio II and Odyssey^2's version do not. I don't know if this was a design decision or a programming limitation. (Storing the "spare or strike" flag while other players took their turns might have been tough? I don't know.) It might have been a way to simplify the rules of scoring for a population that might not be at all familiar with the sport.
Anyway, Bowling! gets a "not bad!" but in all likelihood, we'll never play it again.
Basketball, Odyssey^2, 1978
Basketball brings together Red and Blue again! With arms and legs!As a way to kill about 15 minutes of time, this game is kinda fun, just don't call it Basketball, call it "Run with the ball and try to throw it into that box-thing on the wall." Your on-screen avatars don't even dribble, they just carry the ball from one side of the court to the other and shoot at the basket when you press your action button. The shots are random in velocity, so just because you make a shot from one place doesn't mean you can go back to the same place and make it again. That random element adds the bit of unpredictability to the game that prevents solid pwnage, and makes it possible for even the most hand-eye coordination challenged to have a shot at making a basket.
I would have to say that the first Odyssey Basketball was more fun than this game, whether one calls it "Basketball" or not. (Atari's Basketball, in my opinion, beats them both.)
Someday, in the future, I'm going to have to do comparisons of all the games that showed up in multiple forms on the systems of this era. I may do that before the dawn of the "third-party" era, or I may wait until the Crash.
Next game cart contains the incomparable Matchmaker! Buzzword! Logic! though I feel like I've talked about these before . . .