To me the CV introduced a whole new passion to gaming. We had great arcade-to-home translations like Frenzy, Bump 'N Jump, Time Pilot, Zaxxon... and so many more. To date I don't think any other system has had such a mirror image of local arcades. For those of us without a computer back then, the CV gave us the home console versions of Gateway to Apshai, BC's Quest for Tires and Montezuma's Revenge. And not to be forgotten are the original games that we loved like Tarzan, 2010, and Antarctic Adventure. The CV had it all. The best from all formats brought together in a winning combination of titles that built a library of memories.
I was working in a record store in the local mall when the ColecoVision was hot. Fortunately for me that meant 2 big perks. One: first chance at all the games that came in. Two: employee discount! I can recall getting my hands on Root Beer Tapper, Spy Hunter and Illusions because of my job there. The store only received one copy of each at the time. We never got them back in and I never saw them at the mall toy stores either. I also vividly remember using all the salesmanship (or con artist BS) that I could muster to talk a guy "out of" buying the last Dragonfire by Imagic, that was selling for only 5 bucks, so I could buy it myself.
"I've played it. It's not a good game. It's nothing like the 2600 version. It's too hard to the point that it is unplayable." I told my skeptical target. "Even if it were free it still wouldn't be worth getting. If I were you, I'd get Pitfall instead."
Eventually he saw it my way and put the box back on the shelf. I promptly had him pay for his stuff, bum-rushed him out of the store and pulled the object of my desire off the shelf and into a hiding place in the stockroom. I miss those days.
It was also while working in the record store that I saw the tell-tale signs of the "Video Game Crash." Bulked out loose Atari 2600 carts tagged at 98 cents... Game displays being torn down to be replaced by something unimportant by comparison... Boxed games being packed up and sent to a dismal, rat-ridden warehouse somewhere on the outskirts of knowledge. I don't remember the year it finally hit bottom but I do remember it did not impede my enjoyment of the system. Hell, with games being sold cheap, it flamed the fires. It was raining bargains and quantity was quality. Load up and party! Suddenly, the source dried up and the party ended, but it was far from over.
I mentioned at the start my fond memories of Coleco gaming. To this day I still love to grapple with the pack-in game that came with the Roller Controller, Slither. That obscure arcade game that was seemingly dismissed as a Centipede clone and unfairly received a "done that" attitude from arcade patrons. When that game hit home, I hit home. Lunch breaks from work meant time to drive home and play, not eat. But not just Slither. I love 2010’s ability to instill fear and excitement in me as I pushed the zero key to attempt exit from IO's atmosphere. Will I escape or blow vital circuits? I found Montezuma's Revenge a major coordination/memory challenge that sparked a fierce competition between my brother and I. He finally won out. For those of you who have never seen it, the last level is played completely in the dark. Alas, this was my brother triumph and not my own. Even now as the family is scattered across the states, the game collection and melancholy memories are alike: intact.
I still desire to play the teaser games that were pictured on the box of the ColecoVision itself yet never released. I have over 17 years of pent-up hype running through my head and even though I know the titles don't exist, I want them. I will forever believe in the "enchanted box" that will open from the heavens and flood upon us the past games that fill our dreams. Someday I will play Coleco's Horse Racing where I can place bets on thoroughbreds and watch the excitement of the race "with realistic sound effects and authentic action." Or try my hand at Ripcord, "the daring sky diving game that puts you in charged of a parachutist." Free fall, pull the ripcord and dodge a sky "full of dangerous helicopters." And for anyone who is a fan of the 2600's Adventure, Coleco promised us Tunnels and Trolls, "The fantasy RPG for one to four players puts put you into an adventure of the most fascinating kind." These games were played in the minds of young men and women back in the 80's and remain there - and only there. How can any game fanaic not want to fall back into yesteryear and feed their cravings?
Strangely enough there was no competition between my ColecoVision and my Atari 2600. The CV was not a replacement. It was a welcome companion in my world of gaming. I was drawn to it by it's graphics. Specifically the way it displayed the score. Back in the early 80's the CV managed to copy the exact fonts of the current arcade rages. A small detail, but a detail that was very much overshadowed by the onslaught of the more obvious benefits the CV game library had to offer over any other system. In it’s time the CV delivered more eye candy to more game addicts than ever thought possible. By today's standard, the sounds and graphics of the CV are archaic and even unwelcome. No one wants to see a CV translation of the ever controversial series Mortal Kombat or go Cruisin' the World in the limited glory of this 8-bit system. However, it has to be recognized that the ColecoVision was a giant step forward in the realm of gaming and needs to be remembered as a major stepping stone in the evolution of gaming technology.
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