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A History of Gaming Platforms: Mattel Intellivision
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A History of Gaming Platforms: Mattel Intellivision

May 8, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 9 of 9

After Mattel Electronics closed in January 1984, the newly formed Intellivision, Inc., bought all remaining inventory for major toy store and mail order liquidation, including the remaining supply of cartridges from the Intellivision's third-party software providers.

With sales going well for the streamlined company, Terry Valeski decided to try marketing new games. These games included World Series Baseball (now supporting one or two players), Thunder Castle (action role-playing), World Cup Soccer (one or two players), and Championship Tennis (one or two players).

The first two games were completed at Mattel Electronics but never released, and the last two were completed by a former Mattel Electronics office in France; it had previously been released only in Europe by Dextell Ltd. The success of these new releases spurred Valeski to buy out Intellivision Inc.'s assets and form INTV Corp., to more aggressively pursue new Intellivision releases and reprints.

To save money, the company's new releases and reprints were produced with thinner boxes, contained no quality controller overlays (or, when absolutely necessary, reduced-quality overlays), featured cartridge labels and instructions that were printed in black and white, and often failed to renew licenses, necessitating a name change for the affected titles.

Despite intense competition in the reinvigorated video game market, INTV held its own until 1990, releasing 21 additional games in total, six of which were coded from scratch rather than built off pre-existing code. These six originals included sports games Chip Shot Super Pro Golf (1987), Super Pro Decathlon (1988), Body Slam! Super Pro Wresting (1988), and Spiker! Super Pro Volleyball (1989), and arcade translations Commando (1987) and Pole Position (1988).

The INTV System III featured nearly the same design as the original Master Component from Mattel.

Modern Activity

For such a long-lived system line that sold more than three million consoles, the Intellivision's homebrew market is rather weak compared with many of the other prominent video game systems of the era.

New hardware has thus far been limited to low production run cartridges that allow loading of ROM images and assist with programming, such as Chad Schell's Intellicart and Cuttle Cart 3.

New game releases appear slowly and have been mostly uninspired, though some of the latest games are starting to make interesting use of the Intellivoice or the three extra sound channels provided by the ECS, as well as better programming techniques.

At this time, Intelligentvision is perhaps the most prolific publisher of homebrew cartridges for the Intellivision, taking great care with the color packaging and overlays, and releasing puzzle and strategy games such as Stonix, Minehunter, 4-Tris, and Same Game & Robots.

With a decade of releases in its mass market prime, Intellivision systems and variations are easy to find and relatively inexpensive, often selling with many games and an Intellivoice for well under $50, though care must be taken that the controllers are in working condition. The ECS add-on is rarer and often goes for about $70. The music keyboard add-on often goes for a little more than the ECS alone.

The Intellivision can be an easy and fun system to collect for with a variety of loose and boxed games readily available for purchase and play on the various systems.

Since the Intellivision Keyboard Component had such a limited production run and many were recalled, that particular add-on is among the rarest items for any system. As expected, the software is even rarer and comprises the BASIC Programming Language cartridge and the Conversational French, Crosswords (I-III), Family Budgeting, Geography Challenge, Jack LaLanne's Physical Conditioning, and Spelling Challenge cassettes.

Besides the TV games and official Intellivision emulation compilations released by Intellivision Productions for modern platforms, and select game availability on the computer-based GameTap subscription service, a variety of other unofficial emulators are available that can deliver a good approximation of the real system experience. These emulators include Bliss, Intv, and Nostalgia, with many also doing a good job of emulating the functionality of the ECS and other add-ons.

The Intellivision had new games in development right up to the closure of INTV, with the unfinished classic computer conversion of Choplifter!, shown here, and the finished, but unreleased, Deep Pockets: Super Pro Pool & Billiards, both featuring 1990 copyright dates.

While dwarfed in popularity and nostalgia by the legendary consoles from Atari and Nintendo, Mattel's Intellivision was a solid contender for its time and home to many impressive and highly playable games, particularly in the sports genre. The platform's innovative add-ons and associated software make it a desirable target for any serious collector.

Article Start Previous Page 9 of 9

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