(Sony PlayStation)

Intellivision Classics cover

Following the modest sales success achived with its 2600 compilation CD titled Activision Classics, the storied software publisher has decided to bring Intellivision games to PlayStation. Its 2600 disc was soundly criticized for having poor emulation, namely in the speed, colors and collision detection (ok, just about everything) and had a poor interface as well. It also lacked any historical information -- no interviews of legendary designers such as David Crane and Steve Cartwright. Has Activision gotten its act together with its second attempt?

For starters, the conversion of the classic games has been greatly improved. The emulation engine is infinitely better, and it's hard to believe that it was developed by the same folks that created the 2600 emulator (Livesay Technologies). Therefore, the games are pretty much the exact same as the way you remember them -- even the Intellivoice ones such like Bomb Squad and B-17 Bomber. There's no point in talking about the graphics and sound of this product, given that it's intended to be an accurate depiction of early 1980's video games. Yes, it's crude by today's standards, but folks who purchase this product should know darned well what they're buying before hand.

Space Spartans

This collection of Intellivision games is augmented by a nice history section containing video clips of interviews with the Blue Sky Rangers, who are the group of programmers and designers that worked at Mattel Electronics during the early 1980's. Clearly, some nice bonuses are in store for nostalgists and historians alike.

As in the 2600 pack, Intellivision Classics contains 30 games that were released for the console. The complete line-up is as follows:

Armor Battle, Astrosmash, Auto Racing, Baseball, Basketball, Boxing, Checkers, Chess, Football, Frog Bog, Golf, Hockey, Hover Force, Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack, Night Stalker, Pinball, Sea Battle, Shark! Shark!, Skiing, Sharp Shot, Snafu, Soccer, Space Armada, Space Battle, Space Hawk, Spiker! Super Pro Volleyball, Stadium Mud Buggies, Star Strike, Sub Hunt and Tennis.


Several of the titles, especially the sports games, have been renamed due to licensing issues. Major League Baseball is now Baseball while NASL Soccer (yes, that league is long gone) has been given the generic title Soccer. Sadly, however, many of the big name games have been left out. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Tron Deadly Discs and Kool-Aid Man are among those that will be sorely missed among die-hard Intellivision-aries. One would think that Activision could have changed the title of AD&D (how about Dragon?) or could have altered Tron's graphics so the resemblance would not be obvious. I enjoyed Intellivision as much as the next guy, but I find the choices of titles to be somewhat questionable. For instance, Checkers and Chess -- while they may have had relevance during the system's heyday -- should have been replaced by more viable title such as Utopia, Horse Racing or Space Spartans in my opinion.

What's worse, given that this is an Activision-published product, you'd expect Activision to include its own Intellivision games, right? Wrong! Beamrider, Dreadnaught Factor, Happy Trails, Worm Whomper and Stampede should have been prime candidates for inclusion. And since Activision now owns rights to all of Imagic's properties, why not add Demon Attack, Microsurgeon and others? Perhaps the white shirts at Activision had no idea that their company did games for systems other than the 2600? Who knows.

Star Strike

The final complaint -- and this part was obviously out of the hands of the developer -- is in the control department. Unlike the Atari 2600 which had a joystick and one fire button, the Intellivision's controller consisted of a 16-direction disc pad, a 12-button keypad (like ColecoVision and Atari 5200) and four fire buttons. The PlayStation's analog joystick on its dual shock controller takes care of the directional control, but there was no getting around the button limitation. The number pads can be called upon by pressing L1 and L2 simultaneously, but this is very cumbersome and makes some games impossible to play as a result.

Bottom line is that you can do much better with Intellivision Lives!, which is a similar compilation released for the PC and Macintosh. It has a lot more games than its PlayStation counterpart and even lets you check out some never released stuff such as Party Line and Hypnotic Lights. While Intellivision Classics holds its own in the emulation department, one can't stop but wonder what might have been had the Activision and Imagic titles had been included in the disc.

Title Intellivision Classics
Publisher Activision
System Sony PlayStation
Graphics 5
Sound 7
Gameplay 5
Overall 5
Reviewer Keita Iida

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