Casual Photos: Magnavox Odyssey 300, Questprobe/Spider-Man, Foes of Ali, Rise of the Robots, Video Chess

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Today's second set of casual photos (Magnavox Odyssey 300 (1976); Electronic Arts' Foes of Ali (1995) and Absolute's Rise of the Robots (1995) for the 3DO; Adventure International's Questprobe Featuring Spider-Man (1984) for the Atari ST; and Atari's Video Chess Special Edition (1979) for the Atari 2600 VCS) are taken with my Panasonic digital camera, and, instead of telling a semi-coherent story to go along with the photos, I'll talk about each one in brief in turn. Photos to follow the commentary (I had some issues with my image processing software at work, so I was unable to finish cleaning these up).

The Magnavox Odyssey 300 (1976) is like the Lotus Esprit of the world of home Pong consoles, with killer looks to go with its long, flat frame. It requires six C batteries. By the way, be sure to check out the all-too-true proclamation on the box, "By Magnavox the originator of HOME VIDEO GAMES", which is of course referring to the original Magnavox Odyssey from Ralph Baer, which was released to the home market in 1972, the same year that Pong would see release in the arcades (and yes, it was Nolan Bushnell and Atari who would take inspiration from Baer's Odyssey, not the other way around).

Electronic Arts' Foes of Ali (1995), was a late release for the 3DO system and the type of technically impressive title that might have made a small difference in the platform's relative success had it been released earlier in the platform's run (along with a lower initial selling price for the console itself, but that's a story for another day). Foes of Ali can be thought of as the precursor or prototype for EA's later boxing games, like the recently released Fight Night Round 4. Even though Electronic Arts was one of the 3DO's primary backers, they didn't come through with enough franchise titles, particularly hockey, but they did originate many greats on the platform, most notably Need for Speed, which of course had the Road & Track license back then, and stellar sprite-based versions of FIFA and Madden.

Absolute's Rise of the Robots (1995) was another late release for the 3DO. I remember interviewing at Absolute shortly after graduating college around this timeframe and I was discussing how horrible Rise of the Robots was with them. In short, it was a multi-platform fighting game that looked great, played like crap, but sold a ton. I didn't get the job, but they were working on the sequel when I was there, which promised to fix all the issues with the first game. It didn't and Absolute didn't stick around as a company much longer.

Adventure International's Questprobe Featuring Spider-Man (1984) for the Atari ST is a Scott Adams text and graphics adventure, which means it has a simple parser, but not quite as bad as the early games, which barely accepted two word commands. I owned the Commodore 64 (C-64) version of this game, which had the Plus/4 version on the back of the disk. Presumably the Plus/4 version had more colors than the C-64 version, but I have yet to try it even though I've long since acquired working Plus/4 setups. I'm unsure of the actual release date of this Atari ST version (it's unlikely to be 1984, more like 1985), and all that's in the box is the comic and two backup disks (no originals).

Atari's Video Chess Special Edition (1979) for the Atari 2600 Video Computer System (VCS), is a "Special Edition" only because it was one of the early games that used a 4K ROM chip versus the usual 2K. Chess was a difficult proposition for early computers and videogame consoles due to memory limitations, but programmers typically found a way, though the CPU would often get bogged on higher difficulty levels thinking, sometimes making the player wait in the hours rather than the minutes for their turn. Some manufacturers even went so far as to require or include hardware add-ons with their chess software, like Philips with the chess cartridge and bundled add-on containing a microprocessor for the European version of the Odyssey2, which is compatible with the American console (I have that chess module/cartridge).

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Mark Vergeer
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Video review of Rise of the Robots CDi by the HalfBlindGamer

Thanks go to HalfBlindGamer!

Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Bill Loguidice
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Nice find, Mark, thanks! He

Nice find, Mark, thanks! He was spot on with his assessment of the game. It wasn't just the CD-i version that was ass though, it was ALL of them.

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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Ha! Rise of the Robots was

Ha! Rise of the Robots was one of the few games I remember playing on my brothers' SNES. It definitely looked slick, but yeah, the gameplay was wretched.

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davyK
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I had video chess - was

I had video chess - was really disappointed with it because the screen went blank during the computer's think time. Knowing how the 2600 works now I can see why it had to be like that but it was a downer at the time. I used a chess set and duplicated the moves on that. Still - it played a pretty good game - quite an achievement with the limited RAM available.

What was it with Special Editions with some 2600 games? There's no evidence to suggest they were actually different. Or is there?

Bill Loguidice
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Special Edition? Not so much...
davyK wrote:

What was it with Special Editions with some 2600 games? There's no evidence to suggest they were actually different. Or is there?

I mentioned it in the blog post, "...is a "Special Edition" only because it was one of the early games that used a 4K ROM chip versus the usual 2K." I could be wrong, but I believe that all of the games marked "Special Edition" were marked as such simply because they were 4K games instead of what was the norm for them initially, which was 2K. I only think a few games ever received "Special Edition", which makes sense from a marketing standpoint, i.e., it would be far too confusing for people.

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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nick g (not verified)
quest probe plus 4 version

hi when i was a kid i had the plus 4 version of the questprobe one and two. i can atest the it didnt have any graphic:( its great after all these years to see what i missed out when i was a littl kid:) great to see what scott adams was up to and what he's doing now. thanks for the vids

Bill Loguidice
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Questprobe - Text only and Text and Graphics Versions
nick g wrote:

hi when i was a kid i had the plus 4 version of the questprobe one and two. i can atest the it didnt have any graphic:( its great after all these years to see what i missed out when i was a littl kid:) great to see what scott adams was up to and what he's doing now. thanks for the vids

Perhaps you had a cassette version or something, Nick? (or maybe a stripped down C-16 compatible version?) The disk version of the Questprobe: Hulk game I have, for instance, is a flippy with the C-64 version on the one side and the Plus/4 version on the other. Both versions have graphics. Certainly Scott Adams released a variety of games in text only and text and graphics versions, and often time the same game just with later updates to a new implementation system, meaning most of his original text games saw later release in text and graphics versions (though sadly, with the same lackluster parser).

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clok1966
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more old thread resurections

more old thread resurections :) The 3Do is one system I think i have every box and manual for all the games I have still. I think iahve about 90 some for it ... I was a fan of the 3DO.. but I must admit I am a GRIEF buyer.. life is touhg I go purchase something I shouldnt.. be it a car, motorcycle or big tv.. I had just ended a 6 year thing and needed some way to take my min off it.. it was the days of FIRE sales on the 3DO.. I think i paid $400 ish for it and 7 games.. it came with one and you picked any 6 others.. I did like the system and played it for hours. When it was totally dead I picked up every game i could in bargin bins and Ebay..

Some favorites:
Slayer and Deathkeep ( i can see matt cringe when he reads this)
Gaurdian war
Imercenary
Road Rash (of course)
madden Football
Shock wave...

I really need to dig it out again.

Bill Loguidice
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The 3DO was always an

The 3DO was always an interest of mine, clok, from way back when it was first released at $699.99 and I sold it at Electronics Boutique. It had so much promise, but not a lot of it was ever fulfilled, with some high profile no-shows (that Star Trek NG game, the EA Sports hockey game, etc.). I'm happy to say several years back I was able to acquire one with a bunch of games and a still growing collection. It was the first serious, though a bit rough around the edges, portend of consoles having workable PC-like capabilities.

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