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almightytodd

Colecovision Envy?

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I was 17 years old when the Atari VCS first appeared, and it became our "family" Christmas present for 1977 (Heavy Sixer SN#17718K). By 1982, I was a struggling college student, with a wife, kid in diapers, and another one on the way. In short, I was in no financial position to be chasing after the latest home-gaming trend.

 

But I still have intense memories of walking into some store somewhere, and seeing a Colecovision being demonstrated. I had seen the Atari 400 and 800 computers, and noted that they seemed to be a lot like the Apple II in many ways; except just a little bit better in every area of performance. I had heard rumors of the new Atari gaming console, and understood it to be basically an "Atari 800 without a keyboard". I thought to myself, "Gee, sounds expensive". In just a passing scan of the available games for the 5200, it seemed like they were the same games as were available for the 2600, except with better graphics; not very inspiring.

 

So when I actually saw the graphics and game-play of a Colecovision, it was like, "Wow! That looks just like the picture on the screen of a machine I would have to feed quarters to in order to play." I was never a big fan of the coin-op version of Donkey Kong - it seemed unfair to me that I had to start again at the very bottom each time Mario "died", regardless of how close I was to the top. But the fidelity of the translation from arcade to home-machine was quite impressive. Also quite impressive, was the news that an add-on module would be available to make this new machine compatible with all of the existing Atari 2600 games. Very cool.

 

So now, years later, I have inherited our family's original Heavy Sixer, and also picked up a couple 7800's along the way. I also have a few plug-n-play units and a Flashback 2. But the truth is, I'm more likely to play classic games and the new home-brews through an emulator, than fire-up one of the old systems or the FB2.

 

I've noticed that there is some activity in the home-brew scene for Colecovision, and I understand it has the development advantage that it can be programmed in C. I see that there are a few forums devoted to Colecovision here at AtariAge. A Google-search reveals that there are other forum sites out there talking about the Colecovision, but they don't seem to have much in the way of activity (http://www.neoncherry.com/retrogamevideos/...php?forum_id=50 for example).

 

I guess what I'm getting at here, is I'm wondering if these feelings I have about the Colecovision are common/typical? Am I faithful to the 2600 because it was the first (successful) home system? Or is it because it was the system I grew up with? I don't know that I'd have any interest in trying to get a Colecovision from an ebay seller, as I've heard it's hard to find a unit that remains in working order. And even if I were able to find one, then there's the matter of finding carts for it. Having dozens (hundreds?) of titles available as ROM downloads makes it hard for me to justify spending money on something that doesn't even qualify as nostalgia, as I'm wouldn't be reclaiming something that I once had - more like getting a late taste of something I always wanted.

 

What is the Colecovision connection here at AtariAge? Is it a technicality, since one of the selling points of it was that it could be expanded to be Atari-compatible? Or do other "Atarians" like myself suffer from "Colecovision-Envy"? Or is it something completely different; like maybe a sense of empathy for Colecovision enthusiasts who found themselves orphaned by some of the similar kinds of corporate-thinking mistakes that led to the fall of Atari? Is the Colecovision the system that Atari should have built? Or would things have worked out differently if the talks between Atari and Nintendo for distributing the Famicom in the U.S. with an Atari name badge hadn't fallen apart?

 

I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts.

 

Thanks,

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I grew up with a 2600 and envied anyone with an INTV or a Colecovision.

 

But to answer your question, I don't think it's envy.

We Atarians just like the Coleco, too.

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I also remember a friend having one as a kid and thinking it was cool, but I've got my hands full with the 2600 and NES not to mention the PS2 stuff I still want. I've thought about the Vectrex too but maybe later.

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I only knew one friend with a ColecoVision back in the '80s. He had only a few CV games as well as the 2600 adpater. Whenever I'd visit we always just used the 2600 adapter and played 2600 games. He had a bunch of those. In fact, I can't recall playing any of the original CV games, though I'm sure we did.

 

He also had an Apple //e. So we spent a lot of time playing Ultima and Wizardry.

 

I've got my own CV now and must say the games are great. I'm not evious of anything, just like collecting the old game systems from my childhood.

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I had a 2600, then a 5200. I never had the urge to own a Colecovision back in the day. While it's true most of the 5200's lineup were redone 2600 games, that's what everyone (at least that I knew) wanted...to see improved graphics arcade games. The CV's lineup was also a lot of games that were redone 2600 games also, and many of the ones that weren't were just knockoffs of other games (Ladybug, Mouse Trap, Space Fury, etc...) The only person I knew who had one was one of my cousins, and I wasn't impressed with the games they had, like Donkey Kong, Zaxxon and Smurf, and a few other (that I can't recall) titles. Donkey Kong and Zaxxon are pretty bad ports, and Smurf was so hard nobody hardly ever played it! More often than not when we were going to her house to spend a day on the weekend I wound up bringing my 5200 and playing that instead.

THAT SAID, a few years ago I *did* get a CV, and it's really a great system after all. Frenzy is an amazing port, Galaxian is excellent, Bump N Jump, Turbo (which I finally got the driving controller and didn't like it at first but it grew on me!), hell even Gorf is not bad. Definetly worth getting, although you are right Ebay isn't the best place. Don't worry about being or not being nostalgic just because you didn't own one back in the day. I didn't and I love my CV and it gets a lot of use.

Best thing to do if you want to get one is be patiend and watch for someone selling one here at Atari Age or Digital Press.

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I'll admit it. I had some Colecovision envy. I got an Atari 1982 2600 when I was 9 in 1982. It was a black Vader edition. I was pretty happy with, but one of my best friends and closest neighbor won a Colecovision in a raffle. I was blown away by how close it was the the arcade games. What was really messed up was he didn't even really want it that much. The Colecovision was the 2nd prize. The 1st prize was a 10 speed bike and he said he'd had rather won that and of course my mom bought me a 10 speed around that time. There's no way we'd been allowed to trade plus I need a bike anyway. While I never owned a Colecovision I played my friend's a good bit years ago and still play some Colecovision via emulator on my PSP today.

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Reading these forums, I always realize that I was the richest little poor boy, despite thinking otherwise. My mom and extended family really took care of me on the video game front. I wish they had invested in one decent PC early on rather than a horde of consoles.. but... I guess I'm just a whiner.

 

I had a 2600, a 5200, and a Colecovision/Adam... to me, these three, the INTV, and the Atari 400/800 represent the golden era of classic retro gaming. The Vectrex is in there, as is that Milton Bradley cart based LCD portable deal... but they were both so odd, so off the beaten track, that you know, hardly anybody saw them or got a chance to play with them much, if at all, back in the day. You can also count the Odeysee 2 and a few other consoles in there... but really, those ones above, they were the major contenders. I had friends who had INTVs, 400s, 800s, I had the 2600, the 5200, the CV... I spent a lot of my childhood in front of these various consoles, and I have a lot of nostaligia for all of them. So for me, it is a nostalgia thing.

 

Regarding CV titles... they had the 2nd shelf titles, for sure, but as a kid, you didn't really care, in the arcade, or at home. I loved finding dusty, out of the way, hole-in-the-wall shops and venues that had weird arcade machines... Crazy Kong, Puck Man, Venture, Armor Attack... bootlegs and 2nd tier games. A lot of those CV titles were very entertaining games. Pepper II, Mousetrap and Venture were great. Gateway to Apshi (which wasn't available on the 5200)... Donkey Kong, while it hasn't aged well, was the closest you were going to get at the time on a home game console, and it was THE game at that time. Turbo, Dambusters, Wargames were all good, engaging games. BC's Quest for Tires. You'll hear it said around here a lot, the CV library compliments the 5200 library well, and I agree completely. I think the 5200 titles hold up best over time, and that the gems in the 5200 library make the gems in the CV look rather tame (Space Dungeon and Qix both come to mind as excellent titles that the CV just never quite came close to).

 

At the time, I think that both of these very expensive systems didn't hold up very well, especially compared to how rock solid the 2600 was. They both died (the 5200 sticks, the CV/Adam just rattled apart like an 80s era detroit car)... and I remember thinking in the unsophisticated terms of a 12-14 year old... "They've gotten too far ahead of themselves and more concerned about profit than quality". I'm sure it wasn't exactly in those words, but it was something I realized on an intuitive level. So I put the games away and stopped buying or playing... along with a large segment of the population. I mean, in the same way, I always realized that the INTV was at a disadvantage because it was a computer made by a toy company and a big corporation, also. The Atari was a toy made by a computer company started by nerds and computer geeks, and the difference showed in so many ways. Mattel/INTV always approached the market in a "What do our demographic studies show will maximize profit" manner. You could tell that early on Atari was approaching it more from a "This is cool and what *I* would want" strategy.

 

From a modern perspective, looking back, I've got 'em all, now. I've got the Vectrex, I've got the CV, the 5200, the 7800, the 2600, and a bunch more. I mostly play emulation on a PC, despite this. Some of it is nostaligia, some of it is to have the things I wanted but never owned (like the Vectrex, Atari 800xl or the INTV). I think it flows naturally that if you're a fan of the Atari retro gaming scene, you're likely to be interested in the competition from that time too.

 

Oh, and Smurf Rescue is *wicked* easy once you get over the original learning curve. We used to play it endlessly on level 4, when I was in my gaming prime, because anything less was too darned easy.

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Is the Colecovision the system that Atari should have built?

 

I think so. We never had the 5200 in Canada, so CV was really the only "next step" until the Nintendo arrived. We always wished that the Atari had better graphics, and here was a machine that had it -- nice, slick, great colour... I still think the graphics are pretty amazing, especially considering the time.

 

When the CV came out, I thought that Atari would come back with something, but they never did. I got into computers and away from consoles, and sort of gave up caring at that point (I guess like so many others...)

 

~G

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no Coleco Envy here - I had already gotten into home computers before I played on friend's a Coleco.

 

I do recall being annoyed with the Coleco's Splash Screen w/delay when first turning it on.

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I still remember seeing the CV for the first time at Babbages back when it first came out. The sales guy was showing off Donkey Kong. I couldn't BELIEVE how much it looked and sounded like the arcade game. Being a 2600 owner, you learned to "look the other way" when it came to arcade graphics faithfulness on the 2600. Seeing the CV just blew me away. I would always love my 2600, but I new that one day I would own a CV as well. Sadly, it wasn't until 1999 that I actually owned one. Opening that shipping box and hooking up my very own CV was a childhood dream come true :)

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Reading these forums, I always realize that I was the richest little poor boy, despite thinking otherwise.

 

I feel the same way, my uncle lived with us in 1977 and he bought us an Atari, we were the first ones that I knew that had one and every game he bought was GREAT no matter what it was, seems like he bought new games every payday. He also bought one of the first VCR's I remember the first show we ever recorded was "That's Incredible". Years later when the Colecovision was released my parents bought me one but I had to wait till they got their tax return so it was in March I think so they had been out awhile, I loved the Graphics on Donkey Kong BUT Donkey Kong being my all time favorite game made it hard to get past the fact that they put Kong on the Right side of the screen instead of the left, why would they do that? Also I didn't like the controllers that much. Unlike the Atari I only ever owned a handful of games for the Colecovision but at one point we had 100's of Atari games SIDE NOTE: in 1985 my uncle sold his Atari and all the games to a friend of mine for like 50.00 which seemed like a good deal at the time, I think I got 10.00 for bartering the deal. Who could have guessed 20 years later I would catch the classic gaming bug!

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If by "ColecoVision envy", you mean the desire to satisfy your curiosity about something you feel you missed out on, then I'd say it's perfectly natural. I experienced the same thing years ago, only in reverse: I was a Coleco kid, and at a certain point, I began to feel "2600 envy", as there were lots of 2600 games that looked fun (Asteroids, Gravitar, Joust, the SwordQuest games, etc. etc.). Today, I can still say I prefer the ColecoVision, but I have much more respect for the 2600 than I had when I was a kid.

 

The ColecoVision has lots of wonderful games, but if you have no real experience with the system, you should try lots of CV games via emulation before making a decision about getting the real thing. If Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr, Pepper II, Burger Time and Venture (among others) do not convince you that the CV is worth owning, then nothing will.

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I'll admit, when the 5200 and CV first came along, I still had the 2600 and kept it out for awhile... I still played the occasional supercharger game... but, it wasn't long before I decided that the 2600 was just too dated to compete and packed it up and sold it.

 

Now... today, I still feel this way to a certain extent. The 2600 library is FULL of turkeys, and even the BEST games tend to pale compared to the best that the 5200 or 2600 can produce. It seems that on the 2600, I prefer the *very* simple, very engaging games. Things like Adventure, Haunted House, Quadrun... I've been on a real Circus Atari kick... just a nice, simple, addictive game. I've learned to appreciate the 2600 games for what they are, and you could certainly argue that the 2600 had a set of uniqe titles like Skydiver and Human Canonball and Warlords that are great multi-player titles...

 

I think that remains one of the strengths of the 2600, and where it faltered in part. The 5200 and CV really moved the emphasis to solo gaming on arcade ports. The 2600 tried to compete there, and it just couldn't, really... but looking back, the CV and 5200 never had the family-room titles that the 2600 did.

 

Not that this is hard and fast. The 2600 had a great library including arcade, adventure, puzzle, and other titles, too. And modern homebrewing illustrates that it *is* possible with enough memory to make a pretty good version of almost any arcade game available at that time... But in general, the 2600 looked real aged next to the 5200 and CV.

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I think that remains one of the strengths of the 2600, and where it faltered in part. The 5200 and CV really moved the emphasis to solo gaming on arcade ports. The 2600 tried to compete there, and it just couldn't, really... but looking back, the CV and 5200 never had the family-room titles that the 2600 did.

 

The solo gaming vs. family/group experience aspect is a really good point. This is an observation that has been made by many here and I believe was one motivating factor in Darrell's creation of the Medieval Mayhem game. I think the idea of bringing people together to share in the videogame experience is the reason behind the huge success of the Wii.

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I believe was one motivating factor in Darrell's creation of the Medieval Mayhem game.
Yep - MM came about after having a great time playing Warlords with my nephews and their friends.

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The solo gaming vs. family/group experience aspect is a really good point. This is an observation that has been made by many here and I believe was one motivating factor in Darrell's creation of the Medieval Mayhem game. I think the idea of bringing people together to share in the videogame experience is the reason behind the huge success of the Wii.

 

 

I think the *reality* though is that most video games traditionally have been solo events, and that the Atari 2600 "family gaming" paradigm never really had the impact it could have. Instead, it became escapist fantasy titles for 10-30 year old males.

 

I'm not sure if the Wii will be able to change that. But, you can't fault Nintendo for trying. At least they're making an effort to breath some new life into a stale industry.

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I picked the ColecoVision because, hey, Atari was going to do games for it. It's too bad Pac-Man for the CV never saw the light of day until about 20 years later.

 

But anyway...when I was at St. Vincent's Home in Fall River, MA, I pretty much envied anybody who had either a game system or a handheld game to play there. All I had at first was a Fabulous Fred light game from Mego. It was around Christmas of 1982 that I got Tomytronic TRON, which I enjoyed until it got stolen shortly after I came back from Christmas vacation, and I ended up waiting until summer 1983 when I got the game again for $15. By that time, I wanted to get an Intellivision for playing the TRON games they had on that system, but I had to wait until summer of 1984 when I started working for money to get things like that. I ended up getting an Intellivision II and a handful of games for it, including the TRON games and Atarisoft's Centipede and Pac-Man. It was when I got the Adam Family Computer System in 1985 that I became the envy of my fellow students at the New Boston Road group home I was staying in in my last year at St. Vincent's.

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no Coleco Envy here - I had already gotten into home computers before I played on friend's a Coleco. I do recall being annoyed with the Coleco's Splash Screen w/delay when first turning it on.
Back in the day, the CV splash screen was no more annoying than the oh-my-god-when-will-it-end loading screens for C64 disk-based games (or even worse, tape playback on it or the VIC20). Every now and then, they wouldn't end ... the hard drive had errored or overheated. Granted, the payoff was greater for the C64, but to this day I think I could blindly freehand, pixel-by-pixel, the classic cube-sphere-cone EA boot sequence.

 

Which is not to say that the delay wasn't silly on the CV, but I recall having more patience for such nonsense back then.

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When I had my original 2600 (around '82 I think) I was envious of my friend's Coleco.... Until I got my Atari 800 that is. ;) Anyway, now I have everything and more I ever wanted on the Atari, and I love it! I also got a Coleco and a bunch of games because I remember playing them too. I have to say that the Atari gets a lot more play, and not just because I owned it back then. The controller on the Coleco is horrid and makes the games a lot less fun to play. Also, the Coleco has mostly arcade knock offs, which I have much better versions of in a variety of formats. The Atari, on the other hand, has lots of original games that are still fun to play, and (for me) just aren't the same unless I'm playing on a TV with the original conrollers etc.

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It was around Christmas of 1982 that I got Tomytronic TRON, which I enjoyed until it got stolen shortly after I came back from Christmas vacation

 

 

Tomytronic made a game called Shark Attack that was released in Japan as JAWS 3-D, I have seen this this game go for over 300.00 on ebay, man I would love to get my hands on this game being a huge JAWS fan.

 

post-7957-1175516392.jpg

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no Coleco Envy here - I had already gotten into home computers before I played on friend's a Coleco. I do recall being annoyed with the Coleco's Splash Screen w/delay when first turning it on.
Back in the day, the CV splash screen was no more annoying than the oh-my-god-when-will-it-end loading screens for C64 disk-based games (or even worse, tape playback on it or the VIC20). Every now and then, they wouldn't end ... the hard drive had errored or overheated. Granted, the payoff was greater for the C64, but to this day I think I could blindly freehand, pixel-by-pixel, the classic cube-sphere-cone EA boot sequence.

 

Which is not to say that the delay wasn't silly on the CV, but I recall having more patience for such nonsense back then.

The Sega Genesis version of Williams Arcade's Greatest Hits has like 30 seconds of credits screens (in addition to the 3-second license screen at boot), all completely unskippable. After all, the Genesis/Mega Drive really is basically a 16-bit ColecoVision. (minus the keypads)

 

At least the C64 had an excuse because of its lame serial disk drive interface. You wouldn't have had so much patience for a cartridge version of a given game.

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no Coleco Envy here - I had already gotten into home computers before I played on friend's a Coleco. I do recall being annoyed with the Coleco's Splash Screen w/delay when first turning it on.
Back in the day, the CV splash screen was no more annoying than the oh-my-god-when-will-it-end loading screens for C64 disk-based games (or even worse, tape playback on it or the VIC20). Every now and then, they wouldn't end ... the hard drive had errored or overheated. Granted, the payoff was greater for the C64, but to this day I think I could blindly freehand, pixel-by-pixel, the classic cube-sphere-cone EA boot sequence.

 

Which is not to say that the delay wasn't silly on the CV, but I recall having more patience for such nonsense back then.

Only played the CV a few times, but that was enough to find it annoying. I ported ColEm to OS/2(to get audio routines for MasterGear) and included a hacked bios w/out the delay.

 

At that point all the games I had for my VIC 20 were on cartridges, w/out a loading delay.

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Anyone with decent hardware skills has probably installed an EPROM by now with that damn startup screen patched out. On mine I have it check for the fire button. The good part is that It's Only Rock And Roll becomes slightly playable. (I also can hit a button at the "no cartridge inserted" screen to bring up a controller tester.)

 

And any homebrewer with any self-respect uses the startup bypass code in their games. I just know that the screen was put in on the orders of someone in marketing, and the bypass was put in by an engineer who knew the 10 second delay was stupid.

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I've really noticed that, in retrospect, I don't have a lot of clear favorites that beg to be replayed on the CV lineup, as compared to the retro-Atari consoles. Most often I'm interested in Pepper 2 when I feel an urge to CV-it.

 

But, it seems like the CV actually had a lot more titles that were interesting with TIME invested into them. Dambusters, Wargames, Pitstop I and II and Gateway to Apshi all come to mind as titles that required a little more effort to learn, and really lend themselves specifically to having a CV controller (alas, there is no Stelladaptor-CV).

 

In retrospect, though, after 30 years absent from those titles, I don't feel a huge motivation to relearn them like I knew them as a kid, any more than I do on the Atari consoles with say, Star Raiders, for example.

 

Sitting down to something like Countermeasure for a quick blast of "pick it up and go" nostaligia is a simple thing. The Coleco titles were often a little more complex. They really wanted to leverage overlays and the keypads and the super-action sticks and the expansion sets. Which made the games a blast at the time... but makes them a little too much effort now. Which is why Pepper-2 is one of the good ones. Simple, straight forward... Zaxxon, I suppose, Donkey Kong, Smurf Rescue... QBert... Venture. The CV isn't devoid of good titles... and sometimes a title is better on the 5200, sometimes it is better on the CV... that always seems to be a crapshoot. I find myself writing things like, "The 5200 invariably had the better versions when they existed for both platforms" thinking about something like Montezuma's Revenge... then I think about BC's Quest for Tires and I go, "But it clearly wasn't that a 5200 title HAD to be better". (I know, the 5200 version is a modern 8 bit conversion, but the point remains).

 

I think we lose site of the fact that at that time, games were designed to exploit the strengths and avoid the weaknesses of the hardware platform they were native to... even in the arcade. So certain games that were in the Arcade on hardware closer to the CV platform would translate better to the CV... and vice versa for arcade titles that existed on something more similar to the Atari hardware. Today... a system in the arcade, your PC at home, your PS3, your XBox 360, or PS2, or your Xbox... they've all got the hardware to give you GENERALLY the same experience on any basic concept, presented more or less the same (sure we can split hairs about the PS3 and X360 and their environmental effects... but really... a 3D engine FPS is a FPS, from Quake 3 to Doom 3 to Call of Duty 3 to anything that we'll see in the near future.)

 

Today, it doesn't really matter, I guess, is my point. Go with the brand you like, your experience will be about the same. But back then, one offered one distinct flavor, one offered another.

 

And I guess THAT is the reason to be interested in the CV even as an Atari "fanboy".

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