A History of Gaming Platforms: Mattel Intellivision
May 8, 2008 Page 7 of 9
For the Intellivision Master Component's first two years, the system came packaged with Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack (1979), which played great one- or two-player versions of the title games, complete with an animated dealer.
This was followed by a newer pack-in, Astrosmash (1981), one of the system's more recognizable titles in which asteroids and other objects fell from the top of the screen and needed to be blasted.
The game featured a unique automatic dynamic difficulty control that allowed even novices to get high scores. Shortly after the release of the Intellivision II, a coupon for the excellent conversion of Data East's popular arcade game, Burgertime (1983), was included as well.
The Intellivision is most famous for its extensive range of quality sports games, including Mattel's own Major League Baseball, NFL Football, NBA Basketball, NHL Hockey, and PGA Golf, all released in 1980 and among the first games licensed from professional sports associations.
Most of these titles played well with the control disc and made good use of overlays on the keypad for more sophisticated in-game options. INTV would later commission renamed updates for many of these games that introduced enhanced features and support for single players, though without the expensive licenses.
Besides sports and arcade licenses, Mattel gained the rights to many other properties, including Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, TRON, The Electric Company, and Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
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.
"Atari vs. Intellivision? Nothing I could say would be more persuasive than what your own two eyes will tell you. But I can't resist telling you more." (George Plimpton in a 1982 Intellivision magazine ad)
Most of the games set for release in 1983 were advertised as having "SuperGraphics." The label was intended to help bolster the Intellivision against attacks from the more advanced ColecoVision and Atari 5200 SuperSystem.
In reality, "SuperGraphics" was a marketing ploy, though the games did tend to use more sophisticated programming routines to generate better graphics and smoother game play than many of the system's previous titles.
However, the advertising did succeed in making the system's newer games seem a bit more exciting. This later batch of Mattel titles included the multiscreen Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man and Data East arcade translation Bump 'n' Jump.
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