This review bears no relation to the Kiss album from 1979 with the same name. That album came out in 1979 and now it's after 2000, man. For you Kiss fans, it doesn't take x-ray eyes to see that despite their charisma they could be accused of dirty livin'. If you get the joke then you sure know something. Yes, even in hard times, I've got a magic touch. Hah! I know, I'm hysterical, but save your love for the Odyssey^2.
I've been reorganizing my "house of doom" into a single "wall of doom", i.e. trying to get all of my videogame stuff on display and immediately accessible. I'll have some pictures of this work in progress for another entry so please look forward to it. In the meantime, it's about time I fire up the Chronogame machine and do some old games.
Dynasty (Odyssey^2, 1979)
Like the APF MP1000 game, Catena, before it, Dynasty is a videogame version of the board game known as Othello to some and apparently Go to others. I've heard so much about the ancient game, Go, but I've never actually played it to confirm just how closely it resembles Othello. Regardless, the Dynasty manual says it is based on Go, but if any of you have played Othello then you know this game.
Like Catena, there is a computer opponent for you in Dynasty. I'm certainly not a ranked Othello player but I know when I'm facing an inferior opponent and the computer player for this game was pretty easy to beat.
Graphics-wise the colors of the opposing armies are easy to distinguish, and they even supply a different colored version for TVs that could only produce a black and white picture. Hmm, some of you young folk out there might not understand what I mean by that.
Once upon a time, TV was only in black and white, though, technically, it was actually "greyscale". At one point, color TV was available, but Black and White TVs were still cheaper to produce and purchase. An Atari VCS has a switch to convert its games to black and white for easier visibility on a black and white TV set. Some of the later games may ignore this switch and use it for other features (I don't remember which ones do), but originally, it was for the cheaper black and white TVs that a kid probably had in their bedroom. Y'know I had a black and white TV in my bedroom, but I don't think I ever played my Atari VCS on it. Damn, what a missed opportunity.
Aside: I do remember watching my in-room B&W TV set late night on December 8, 1980. I remember The Tonight Show getting interrupted by a special report that told me John Lennon had been murdered outside a New York City hotel. True Story.
Anyway, it is pretty cool that there was a black and white version of Dynasty on the cart in case it was hard to distinguish the default colors on a black and white screen.
Gameplay is painless. When it is your turn, you move a cursor around the board and select the spot in which you want to place your "army". The CPU does the same, but, of course, does it much quicker. The manual boasts that it can make 100,000 electronic decisions a second! For some reason, I don't think this will be the last time I hear that boast about this system.
Another feature of Dynasty is that, in two player mode, it allows a timer to be set for a more advanced player, a timer that only runs during the advanced player's turn. So, if I were to play my son, I might give myself a time limit of maybe three minutes and my son would win the game if I didn't beat him in three minutes. It's a nice feature and one that wasn't in the APF version.
The sound effects are inoffensive and harmless, there really is no animation to speak of, but the graphics serve their purpose just fine.
All in all, there's nothing to dislike about this game other than the slightly IQ challenged AI. If I really wanted to play me some Othello, I'd probably rather get the board game itself and play someone face to face, but lacking an opponent, this game serves its purpose well.
Next entry, I think I'll check out Alpine Skiing.
Computer Intro, part 0000
As I play through the 1979 Odyssey^2 games, I'm going to try to spend a little time each entry looking at Computer Intro, a cartridge that will supposedly allow me to program simple games into my Odyssey^2.
First of all, let me commend this system for the Computer Intro manual (recently purchased from Zach Meston, thanks Zach!). The manual is a friendly, simple introduction to Assembly Language programming. How many books were out in 1979 that were actually friendly introductions to Assembly Language progamming? The introduction explains a lot of neat things about computers, how big they used to be, how much smaller they got, how much faster they'll get and how much information they'll be able to handle someday. (I think their estimates are based, in part, on Moore's Law, which would be appropriate since there were Intel chips in the Odyssey if I'm not mistaken.)
The first example starts off by diving right into hexadecimal programming (!!!). It has you start a program with the opcode "60" which is for "Load Register 0." This thing lets you talk to the freakin' processor!! Is that cool or what? When I think about the money my parents spent on the Atari Keyboard Controllers and my copy of Atari Basic Programming, I cringe at how much more I would've learned had I been given an Odyssey^2 with a copy of Computer Intro. This is pretty exciting stuff and I say that with no irony in my tone what-so-ever.
How many people around here got their start programming on an Odyssey^2 back in the day?
Anyway, very excited about this. How come this wasn't called "Computer Intro!" ? (Where's the exclamation point?)