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Video Game Uber Fun Fun List: Colecovision

Author: Philippe
Posted: 06 Nov 2005

I'm going to let you in on something. It's a dark secret I've held for quite some time. Here we go. All cards on the table, people.

I've never ever completed more than one side of a Rubik's Cube. I suck at Rubik's Cubes. Fuck Rubik. in 1982 he was a lot more hated than he is now. Why, you ask? Well, my darlings, that was the year that he cursed the world with that godforsaken Cube. It was also a year built around music videos, Martha Quinn, and the very first time that I was brought to see a movie. (Said movie, of course, being E.T. It may well be the first movie you saw as well, assuming, of course, that you were born in or just before 1979.) MTV was changing the music industry for the better (yes, it was a long long time ago). Times were good for me. I'd been out of diapers for a good year and a half. I'd been walking for a little over a year and the world was my oyster. But this article isn't about Philippe TCA's Uber Fun Fun Childhood. No, this article is about video games.

So break out the leg warmers and let's talk about the Coleco.

The Connecticut Leather Company Vision or Colecovision was released in 1982 and almost immediately started kicking everyone's asses. Despite the ridiculous controllers that came with the system, the fucker sold like hot cakes. Why, you ask? Coleco had two things going for it. Number one was the fact that with an add-on, you could play Atari 2600 games in addition to all of the titles that they themselves had released. Number 2 was that the system came bundled with a tiny little nothing of a game that only a few people have heard about: Donkey Kong. We'll get back to monkey man in a bit (or should I say donkey man?).

Back to point one. Upon release, the Colecovision instantly had the biggest game library of all time. In fact, because of the Atari game add-on they would at least always be ahead of the 2600. The people at Atari tried to sue Coleco, but to no avail. Atari had a history of just buying off-the-shelf parts and never doing much homework patent-wise. The lawsuit was thrown out and Coleco kept on going.

They also released a steering wheel and pedals which worked for their driving games and, quite possibly the most important thing of all, an add-on that turned your Coleco into an actual computer: the Adam.

By Christmas of its first year, the system sold over half a million units. The hell, you say? Discord! Confusion, you say? How could they possibly do that? I have no idea. I think the Donkey Kong game helped a LOT. That's just a theory, of course, but since I'm the resident expert, I'm going to say that it carries some weight. (Now, you could make arguments for Mitch being the resident expert, but since this is my article, I'm disqualifying him. Mitch, however, can feel free to write one of the Uber Fun Fun articles if he pleases, which would officially put him in the running.)

In any case, Coleco sold over six million systems in its run. That, my friends, is impressive and no mistake. Of course, 1984 was right around the corner and the video game crash happened. The bad boys from Connecticut Leather had to file for bankruptcy. Still, six million units in two years is spanktacular. Coleco, TTA salutes you. We love you. Peeps got nothing on you, ol' buddy. Yet how, HOW, can I possibly do justice to your kick assedness?

Why, let's write a small history of the company's foray into video games and then make a top nine list! Yes, that's good. I'ma go with that.

So, without further ado, the Uber Fun Fun List presents the top nine games for the Colecovision!

Coming in at the bottom of the top...
9. A game that almost nobody has ever heard of: Antarctic Adventure (Konami, 1984). It's a simple premise. You are a penguin and you don't want to be eaten by seals. You also either want to explore the world, or you are exploring the world for some reason that I don't know. Games of this era were sometimes a bit hard to understand. That is to say, you understood that you were a penguin, but you didn't quite know why you were on this fairly epic quest. I think I've summed up the game nicely, though. The game played sort of like a racing game with obstacles and it was a metric shit-ton of fun. One for the ages, certainly, but not enough to get past number nine. Certainly not as good as the next game on the list.
8. Turbo (Sega, 1982). Turbo was one of only two games that required use of the steering wheel controller. 'Twas a racing game which I found to be some monster fun. The backgrounds ranged from racing between buildings, racing between evenly spaced trees, or a mix of the two. The graphics were actually fairly good for this one. It felt like an extended version of the flight mini game in Wario Ware (does that make sense to anyone but me?). It's the dang steering wheel that earns it a spot on the list and if you ever manage to find both the steering wheel and the game, I'd say to grab 'em up quick.
7. Gorf (Bally/Midway, 1983). This game had a Space Invaders feel to it. It did, however, incorporate some other ideas into the mix. The first two levels were exactly like space invaders but the third level brought you into an odd behind-the-ship view of hyperspace. Then, in the fourth level, we found something truly excellent: a boss character. A tricky bastard with a single weak spot. Hit the weak spot and you've saved the universe...sort of. Like most games of this era, you just went back to a trickier and faster version of the first level. Still, it was nice to break the continuity of blasting alien waves for hours and, rest assured, you were playing this one for hours and hours and hours.
6. Evolution (Sydney, 1982). Evolution is one of those odd games that would make for a kick-ass and addictive flash game in todays market. You went through levels avoiding your enemy and grabbing up whatever it is you needed for the next level. For example, as an amoeba, you went through the level trying to find DNA. Grab enough DNA and you'd turn into a frog. (Just like real evolution! no wait...not at all like real evolution.) Still, it was weird and fun, so it shall be remembered and loved forever on the Uber list.
5. Time Pilot (Konami 1983). And so the wave of arcade ports starts to rear its head. I think, in fact, that every other game on the list is an arcade port. Luckily for the Coleco (as opposed to the 2600), the CPU could sort of almost handle the graphics and even came up with a few fairly accurate ports. Time Pilot was one of them. Your basic top down shooter; after every level, you'd jump forward in time to face a new era of enemies. From old planes, to jets and helicopters, to space ships. If I remember my history correctly, the guy developing the game (Yoshiki Okamoto) was given a bunch of money to make a driving simulation. Upon deadline he showed up with this bad boy. At first, everyone was angry (note that this is not a driving sim), but everything worked out because this ended up making quite a bit of bling for Konami.
4. Burgertime (Mattel, 1984). The last game to come out of Mattel for a long, long time. The game played quite a bit like Donkey Kong. You were a chef and what you wanted to do, see, was make some burgers and avoid the hell out of hot dogs. You made the burgers by walking across them and pushing them down to the bottom platform and, actually, if you take a look at the picture, you can pretty much figure out the game. (Is it any wonder that strategy guides didn't need to present themselves for years to come?) Beauty through simplicity. Of course, all of these games are really just dressing to following three games. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves.
3. Q*bert (Parker Brothers, 1983). Wow, Q*bert has a pretty interesting story behind it. It's so long and involved, in fact, that if you're interested you should head on over to Jeff Lee's history and check it out. It's an excellent read. As Q*bert, you jumped around in a weird MC Escher cube universe, changing the cube colors to better suit your artistic tastes for that level. It remains one of my favorite arcade games of all time and whenever I see one in an arcade (believe me, they're still there to be found), I always spend at least a dollar to flex my sadly under-used skills. Excellent game for all that and a fairly good port.
2. Spy Hunter (Coleco, 1984). A top-down racing game that provided my best friend Tommy Chappel and me a much-needed break from our insane desire to finish The Goonies 2. That, of course, was on the NES, but regardless the game rocked my world. I think I even made it to the boat level once and survived for about twelve seconds. Not only were you driving along, but you also got weapons -- Oil slicks and missles and various other things to destroy the enemy spies with! This game spoke to me as a child because I really liked driving and I liked killing people. I did both well.
1. And, finally, the number one spot. The granddad of all the Coleco games. What could it possibly be? Why it's Donkey Kong (Nintendo, 1982), of course! Yes, the game that gave the world its first taste of Mario, released exclusively for the Coleco. Now, admittedly, it was a very early incarnation of both Mario and DK. In fact, Mario didn't even have a name at this point. But this is the one that started Nintendo's huge rise to the top. It started a massive lawsuit from just about everyone who wasn't Coleco or Nintendo, as well. Universal pictures tried to sue both companies for copyright infringement. They claimed that they had stolen King Kong. The lawsuit actually ended when everyone found out that due to a few loopholes, Universal didn't even own the rights to King Kong anymore. Countersuit, and Nintendo won. The port was fairly faithful to the arcade mega-hit and the game definitely helped Coleco sell as many units as they did. This game pretty much defines "killer app." What else could I put in the number one slot? Nothing, you sack full of brigands. Hooray for giant monkeys!

And, so, we are at the end. Hope you enjoyed and I'll see you all next time!

P.S. - Mitch is not allowed to write any articles for the Uber Fun Fun List. (Though he is thanked for being one of the only people to make a top nine list whenever I ask for one.)

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