[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Magnavox Odyssey 2

May 11th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Magnavox Odyssey 2 Ad - 1981The Excitement of a Game. The Mind of a Computer. The Soul of an Edsel.

The Odyssey 2, released in 1978, ranks among the most misunderstood video game consoles. It boasted more CPU intelligence than the Atari 2600, but it lacked the licensed arcade titles and third-party developers to make it competitive over the long run. While its games were mostly clones of popular games on other systems, the console played host to a few interesting curiosities like The Voice, a speech synthesis module, and The Quest for the Rings, a beautiful board game that tied into the Odyssey 2 console.

The Odyssey 2 also included a built-in keyboard (a very poor membrane model), which I believe might be the only time such a thing has happened — unless you count certain home PCs as video game consoles.

[ From TIME, November 2, 1981, p.24 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What’s your favorite Odyssey 2 game? If you have one, that is.

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13 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Magnavox Odyssey 2”

  1. Eagles409 Says:

    KC Munchkin was a total Pacman knockoff that wasn’t too bad. I think Magnavox got sued because it was so close to the Pacman, but it was still a pretty good game. I remember the sports titles were terrible and the voice module was useless.

  2. Moondog Says:

    My cousins had one of those. I recall a game called Pickaxe Pete, or something like that. It reminded me of Donkey Kong.

  3. Alexander Says:

    I only have the standard 3 games… but out of those 3, Crypto-Logic would have to be my favorite. It makes a great party game with friends.

  4. Jason Scott Says:

    I’m currently working on a Javascript porting of MESS with some very talented people. It’s NOT perfect, don’t try running it in Firefox (it pulled out a performance/coding bug that crashes your browser) but maybe Chrome, but I have set up a page where you can read about KC Munchkin and then play it in a browser.


  5. Donn Says:

    I’ve never really heard of this thing, but I totally dig the fantasy map that appears to go with the game on the screen, me being an Ultima guy.

  6. Eagles409 Says:

    Thanks Jason, I’ll check that out.

  7. Thomas Says:

    The first console I ever played, but over here it was called Philips G7000. My first favourite game ever was Showdown in 2100 A.D. Oh the two player duels we had. eventually he got a NES and we forgot all about it.

  8. Richard Says:

    I had quite a few games for this machine, even the chess game and the music game (with plastic keyboard overlay)
    Did you know you could eject a cartridge while playing tankbattle and with the videopac still on, insert the kc munchkin cartridge? You would get tanks firing ghosts. Real fun!

  9. Sam Prus Says:

    my family was a big fan of Take The Money and Run, which if I recall correctly introduced me to multiplayer gaming as you could run the maze with a friend, and glitching, since we discovered a way to move through one of the walls to the other side. I didn’t learn about finances, as it takes place in the “Land of Keynesium”

  10. mousse Says:

    Here in Italy the Odyssey2 was called Videopac and was rebranded as Philips.

  11. Odyssey2rocks Says:

    my favorite system of all time. Lots of unique original titles that can’t be found on anything else. The games were alot of fun 😀

    favorite games were Pick Axe Pete, Monkeyshines, and KC Crazy Chase

  12. Scott S. Says:

    “It boasted more CPU intelligence than the Atari 2600…”

    This comment is based on .. what? In this case, having the latest CPU available was of no benefit to the O2. Both are 8-bit. The O2 has a slightly faster clock and RAM, but the VCS has more ROM, resolution, colors, sound channels, etc. What little advantages O2 has certainly didn’t translate to their games. The fact the O2 has a keyboard was meaningless as it was never fully used (and the VCS eventually got its own keyboard via a 3rd-party company). The VCS was also able to reproduce digitized voice w/o any adapter. The O2 did have at least 2 3rd-party software developers – Imagic and Parker Brothers – and it was lucky to even have that many.

  13. Benj Edwards Says:

    I honestly don’t know why I wrote that, Scott. Maybe I was trying to imply it could create slightly better graphics (even that is debatable), which isn’t necessarily related to the CPU if there are helper chips.

    Oh well, it was three years ago.

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