Coleco Vision

On December 24th, 1982 my parents gave me a Coleco Vision video game console. It was the hot, high end video game console of the day and we were really excited about it. The Coleco Vision remained the only video game console that we owned until I bought a Nintendo Game Boy for myself in the early 1990s and it was the only traditional “hook to your television” console that I owned until I bought myself the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1992 after hit had been on the market for about a year.

The Coleco Vision would have a major impact on my life as it was my first introduction to video games at home. When we got it we knew a few people who had the Atari 2600 system and the Coleco was supposed to be much more powerful than the 2600. The Coleco was also very expensive and did not sell nearly as well as Coleco had hoped as people found that they just were not able to afford the system. In total, only 170 games were ever made for the Coleco (in contrast, the Atari 2600 had over 900 games made for it.)

For the first Christmas all we had was the console itself which came bundles with Donkey Kong and one additional game, Zaxxon, which was the really hot “3D” game of the day that was used as the shining example of the Coleco Vision’s power.

By the time that our Coleco Vision was retired in the late 1980s we had amassed several game cartridges for the system:

Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong Jr.
Cosmic Avenger
Smurfs: Rescue in Gargamel’s Castle
Space Fury
Sir Lancelot

Turbo by Sega was one of the really amazing games of its time in that it used a real steering wheel, shifter and accelerator that you put under your foot in order to play. This was a very expensive game for its time costing, if I remember correctly, almost $100! This is more than many game consoles have cost over the years. It was a truly ground breaking driving game though. No other platform had anything to compete with it.

Smurfs: Rescue in Gargamel’s Castle was recently (circa 2006) rated by Microsoft’s MSN as one of the ten worst video games ever made and they might be right. Smurfs was a horrible game even for its time. But it was special in that it didn’t use a black background like so many games of its time did.

Wargames and Mousetrap were special in that they used plastic overlays to put on the twelve button Coleco keypad giving you a keyboard with which to command the game. Both games widely used the extensive keyboard for gameplay and, for the most part, used it well.

Donkey Kong was a port of the all ready classic arcade game and had weaker ports on other consoles but the Coleco version was almost identical to the arcade system. Donkey Kong was made by Nintendo and bundled with the Coleco Vision and served to make both companies famous. The Coleco Vision would go on to be THE console for Nintendo’s early games include Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong III and Mario Bros. These games were so popular at the time that in 1983 a cartoon on the Saturday Morning Supercade called “Donkey Kong” was made. I used to watch it and the Pac Man cartoon as well when I was young. These four early titles went on, of course, to spawn many Nintendo titles including the Super Mario Bros. series of games, Donkey Kong Country and other series that would exist on many consoles over the years.

LadyBug was my parents’ favourite game and dad played it quite a bit. LadyBug was more or less a Pac Man clone although the sound and graphics were a bit better and the swinging doors made for more interesting game play. MouseTrap was yet another Pac Man clone but making use of the Coleco’s unique gamepad to do some things that Pac Man could never have done.

Wargames was one of the most innovative games on the Coleco Vision console. Wargames was a strategy game before its time that truly took advantage of the Coleco’s game pad and made it really make sense. The game was not an arcade style game but was a new breed of games designed for home based play instead of arcade type play. This was definitely one of the best Coleco titles.

[This post was originally a “page” but that was not a good way to manage it so I changed it into a post instead.]

Leave a comment