INTELLIVISION LIVES! (PS2 / XBOX / GAMECUBE)
"3 1/2 STARS"
> Chris Baker
Consumers must make tough choices while being bombarded with publicity and reviews that make scores of games sound indispensable, regardless of a family budget. One week's $50 mega-game is followed by the next week's $50 must-have game, which is followed by another week of two more $50 four-star games.
Let me suggest a gem -- a few gems, actually -- that combine a bargain price with fabulous entertainment: revived games from the Mattel Intellivision brand, which enjoyed its heyday in the early 1980s.
We're talking about graphically primitive games with enormous retro appeal and, in some cases, an addictive quality that remains amazingly strong all these years later.
You can get this stuff and much more as Intellivision Lives! for either PlayStation 2 (out now) or Xbox (coming soon) at just $20. [T]here are more than 60 classic and unreleased games and a variety of extra material, including old Intellivision TV commercials.
If you're not yet tempted, spend some time on the Web site that also chronicles the Intellivision history: www.intellivisionlives.com . Of course, that could ignite another temptation. You may find yourself headed straight to eBay to bid on 20-year-old Intellivision consoles.
> Mike Antonucci
Two decades later, of course, Intellivision games are a largely forgotten historical curiosity rather than the bleeding edge of home gaming. But Crave Entertainment is banking on the hope that the underlying gameplay of the Intellivision library was solid enough to appeal to 2003's gamers -- many of whom are, in fact, younger than the system.
As it happens, their new collection, Intellivision Lives!, stands a good chance of doing just that.
Intellivision Lives! is an impressive package, compiling roughly sixty games for a wallet-friendly $20. The emulation is solid, and the games are presented via arcade machines within an amusingly kitschy virtual '80s pizza parlor. Although this gimmick has been used before (Namco Museum and Activision Anthology also made use of similar visual metaphors), "Hal's Pizza" is arguably the nicest take on the idea. It nicely captures the feel of the 1980's-era neighborhood pizza. More importantly, it works well as an interface: while the jukebox in the corner plays campy Intellivision-themed music, moving between hotspots is fast and intuitive and load times are negligible.
The zippy loading times complement the simple nature of the Intellivision's games, which is a touch of canniness by the developers; it turns the package into a painless pick-up-and-play experience. You can boot up your console and be 5,000 points into Astrosmash in the time it takes for Vice City's initial loading progress bar to crawl its way to the right side of the screen.
The sixty games are divided into more than half a dozen categories, including Space, Sports, Gaming and even Unreleased. Each individual title includes a bevy of options, such as stomach-churning wacky presentation modes, detailed online instructions and historical trivia. Additionally, every category features an unlockable bonus earned by achieving set scores on certain titles -- a nice touch, as it adds a concrete goal to the gameplay. The unlockables are mostly those old Plimpton commercials, which are interesting if only as a reminder of how sedate and tasteful gaming ads were before the Sega Scream.
In other words, there's a lot here to see and do. Still, the collection would be worthless if the games were garbage. By luck, quite a few are actually very good. Each category contains at least one enduring classic. Having come into this review with practically zero Intellivision experience, I was impressed by how many of the system's titles are still fun two decades later even without the warm rose tint of nostalgia. Games like Astrosmash, Night Stalker (a tense fusion of Pac-Man and Berzerk), Duncan's Thin Ice (think Qix meets Pengo) and Thunder Castle are all immensely addictive despite their obvious technical limitations.
Unfortunately, my objective perspective also gives me a clear sense of where Intellivision Lives! fails. I was completely unfamiliar with every single one of these games; there are no licensed titles here, no arcade ports, no third-party hits. The commitment to original content is admirable, but at the same time it fails to provide the immediate hook that familiar classics like Pac-Man or Pitfall would offer. And though certain games are sufficiently straightforward that anyone can jump right in and enjoy them, many are far too abstract or obtuse to appeal to a casual player. I pity the person who sits down and randomly selects Space Hawk or Vectron to serve as their introduction into the world of Intellivision.
Intellivision Lives! is still an excellent collection. Fans of the system should have no reservations about picking up a copy; it was put together under the supervision of several of the console's original programmers, and their love for Intellivision shines through in the detail and polish of the package.
More casual consumers may want to proceed with slightly less enthusiasm -- the crude graphics and rudimentary sounds of the world's first 16-bit system won't be to every modern gamer's tastes... Anyone willing to give these ancient games a fair try, however, will very likely find a few to their liking. Plus, there's a lot to be said for having so many games -- and so much history -- on a single disc.
> Jeremy Parish
|Intellivision Productions, Crave Entertainment, and Realtime Associates have teamed up to bring Intellivision to the Sony PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube consoles!
Intellivision Lives! drops the player into Hal's Pizza, a 360 degree 3-D environment. Arcade machines of different themes - Space, Sports, Battle, etc. - ring the restaurant. Each machine serves as an interface to the original Intellivision games, plus other exciting features. Over 60 of the classic games can be played, plus a number of games that were never released back in the '80s. The restaurant also features a jukebox that plays Intellivision-themed music.
"This takes what we've been doing with the Intellivision games to a whole new level," says Keith Robinson, president of Intellivision Productions, Inc. "We've always tried to put them in the context of when they were released - it adds that extra nostalgic boost to the experience. In our PC and Mac collections, we've done that with video clips and music and the overall design of the graphics. But now we can actually put you into an animated 3-D world that captures the feeling of 1982. It is 1982! The first time I scrolled around Hal's I started laughing. Pizza and video games. Yeah, I could live here."
The console versions were developed by Realtime Associates, the software firm founded by Blue Sky Ranger David Warhol (Thunder Castle). Realtime produced all the original Intellivision games published by INTV Corp. in the mid- to late-1980s. Intellivision Productions co-founders Robinson and Stephen Roney have been involved in each stage of development to ensure that the design and the game emulation are faithful to the original system.
Crave Entertainment is publishing all three versions in North America.
Play It Ltd. is distributing the PlayStation 2 version in PAL countries, including Great Britain, Australia, Italy, France and Spain.
|ORDER INTELLIVISION LIVES! ONLINE RIGHT NOW >
ALSO AVAILABLE WHEREVER COOL VIDEO GAMES ARE SOLD!
GAMES ON INTELLIVISION LIVES!
COMBAT + SORCERY
GAMING + STRATEGY
*Requires two players and two hand controllers. Some games require two hand controllers to start, even in one-player mode.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
A few of my favorite Intellivision games are missing.
Legal restrictions kept us from including some of the classic games that were based on movies or arcade machines.
I bought one and am having a technical problem.
Technical support is here.
|In 1999, Activision released a collection of 30 Intellivision games for PlayStation 1 titled A Collection of Intellivision Classic Games, commonly called Intellivision Classics.
While Intellivision Classics is no longer on store shelves, new copies can still be ordered from Amazon.com by clicking the link at right. While we recommend the new Intellivision Lives! for PlayStation 2 (above) which has improved emulation, more games, more features, and is an overall better value, we're including this link for those who want to add it to their Intellivision collection.
Intellivision Classics runs on both PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2.
Emulation software developed for this collection is running the actual code from the original game cartridges, so you are playing the games exactly as they played on the Intellivision console!
Armor Battle, Astrosmash, Auto Racing, Baseball, Basketball, Boxing, Buzz Bombers, Checkers, Chess, Football, Frog Bog, Golf, Hockey, Motocross, Night Stalker, Pinball, Sea Battle, Shark! Shark!, Skiing, Snafu, Soccer, Space Armada, Space Battle, Space Hawk, Spiker! Super Pro Volley Ball, Stadium Mud Buggies, Star Strike, Sub Hunt, Super Pro Decathlon, Tennis
Note: Armor Battle, Baseball, Basketball, Boxing, Football, Hockey, Sea Battle, Soccer, and Tennis require two players and a second hand controller.
Intellivision Classics also includes video interviews with several of the original programmers.