Following up on their profiles of the Commodore 64, Vectrex, Apple II, and Atari 2600, game historians Loguidice and Barton examine the lifespan of Mattel's cult '80s console the Intellivision, from Astrosmash to AD&D and beyond..
Founded in 1945 and having established itself in the toy making arena with its tremendously success Barbie doll line, Mattel made its entrance into the video game industry in the late 70s with a title that would eventually lead the company into the home console business:
In 1977, Mattel, under its Mattel Electronics line, produced the seminal Auto Race, the first all-electronic handheld game. It was crude by today's standards -- the visuals were represented by red LED lights and the sound consisted of simple beeps.
But the novel product was a huge success, spawning several other handheld games such as Football and Battlestar Galactica. These games sold millions and gave Mattel the confidence to move into the fledgling video game console market with the Intellivision Master Component.
After releasing the first games licensed from professional sports associations, including Major League Baseball and PGA Golf, Mattel continued to break from the routine of creating subpar licensed games:
"Although the strategy was to gain market share with familiar brands, Mattel's talented developers didn't actually follow the precedent of making lousy games and counting on the brand recognition alone to move product.
Mattel's lineup included the classic action role-playing games Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Cartridge (1982) and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Treasure of Tarmin Cartridge (1983), the educational The Electric Company Math Fun (1979) and The Electric Company Word Fun (1980), the popular action-packed TRON Deadly Discs (1982) and TRON Maze-a-Tron, and the ECS-enhanced Scooby-Doo's Maze Chase (1983) and Jetson's Way with Words (1983).
Mattel eventually shifted its development focus to mainly action games, but for a time, the Intellivision received several excellent releases that required cunning rather than quick reflexes. Besides entries such as ABPA Backgammon (1979), Horse Racing (1980), Reversi (1982), and USCF Chess (1983), there was the groundbreaking, critically acclaimed Utopia (1981), which enabled one or two players to rule an island in the face of constant man-made and natural disasters."
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