The ColecoVision was released during 1982 and this console was the Coleco corporations second forray into the world of home video game consoles following the Coleco Telestar which was released with the First Generation systems like the Magnavox Odyssey. The ColecoVision console not only provided nearly arcade level graphics and game experience but also allowed for expansions from the consoles basic hardware. At its release the ColecoVision boasted twelve launch titles in addition to ten more games expected to be released within the year. The Colecovision game library would eventually reach 145 titles that were released as cartridges between its launch in 1982 and 1984. The ColecoVision also made the number 12 spot in the 2009 list by IGN of the best video game consoles for its accuracy in bringing arcade hits of the generation into the home.
One of the major achievements of the ColecoVision was the successful licensing of Nintendo’s Donkey Kong which was used as the official “pack-in” cartridge for all ColecoVision consoles and was wildly popular which helped to boost the system’s popularity due to the fact that the game was a nearly perfect port of the original arcade favorite. By the time that Christmas approached the year of the ColecoVision‘s release the console had sold more than half a million units and it could be said that its only real competition in the market was Atari’s 5200 which turned out to be less successful despite being a more advance gaming unit. Outside of the United States the ColecoVision was branded by CBS Electronics leading to the consoles being sold under the name CBS ColecoVision. By the time the video game market crashed in 1983 the ColecoVision sales had surpassed one million units although sales would decline during the crash and into the beginning of 1984 leading Coleco to focus more of its resources and attention away from the market of in home video games and its eventual withdrawal from the market entirely during 1985. The console managed to sell over two million units before its discontinuation during 1985 placing it amongst the most successful consoles of the second generation. During 1986 the ColecoVision was revived by a company called Bit Corporation which released a clone system under the name Dina which was sold in the United States by Telegames and called the Telegames Personal Arcade.
The body of the Colecovision included a rectangular plastic case which housed a motherboard, a slot to insert game cartridges on the right side, and connectors for a power supply and an RF jack on the back. The controllers were connected to the unit in recessed plugs on the top of the device. The controllers used for the ColecoVision were similar to those used for the Intellivision and were rectangular wide a numeric set of buttons, a set of side buttons, and used a 1.5in joystick in place of the circular control pad of the Intellivision. Each ColecoVision unit shipped with two controllers and the controllers were capable of accepting a plastic overlay which would map the controls for a specific game. All of the first party cartridges as well as the majority of third party cartridges used with the ColecoVision featured a 12 second pause before presenting the game selection screen as a result of a BIOS loop designed to show an on screen image of the ColecoVision brand. Some companies including Parker Brothers, Activision, and Micro Fun however chose to bypass this loop despite that fact that the bypass reduced the storage capacity of the actual game programming.
Expansions and Accessories:
One of the primary facets of the ColecoVision which was heavily advertised was the possibility to expand upon the original hardware of the console using Expansion Modules and Accessories through a port interface located on the front of the unit and ColecoVision lived up to expectations releasing several additions which were each sold separately from the actual device.
– Expansion Module #1– The first expansion released for the ColecoVision allowed the console to become compatible with its leading competition the Atari 2600 which allowed the ColecoVision to boast the largest game library of this generation of consoles. In addition to the compatibility module Coleco also created a clone of the Atari 2600 called the Gemini game console which allowed the use of combined joystick/paddle controllers.
– Expansion Module #2- The ColecoVision‘s second accessory was a driving wheel and gas pedal which was released with a port of the arcade game Turbo. The gas pedal functions as a simple on and off switch for the device, however a future release had a gear switch which gave players much more precise speed control in their games. This accessory was used through the controller ports and was compatible with games like Destructor, Bump n Jump, and Dukes of Hazzard.
–Expansion Module #3- The third expansion module released for the ColecoVision transformed the game console into a fully fledged computer which was referred to as Adam. This expansion came with a keyboard, a digital data pack (DDP), cassette drives, and a printer.
– Expansion Module #4- The fourth accessory for the ColecoVision was called the Roller Controller. This controller was retailed with a port of the classic game Slither which was a clone of the game Centipede. The only issue with the Roller Controller was that it was not compatible with the Adam leading to the release of an adapter for upset consumers. The Roller Controller was not only limited to Slither but was also usable with games such as Victory, Omega Race, and Wargames.
– Expansion Module #5- The final expansion for the ColecoVision was called the Super Action Controller Set and was a set of two joysticks which were similar in appearance to boxing gloves and was released with the game Super Action Baseball. Each of the joysticks included four different action buttons, a twelve button numeric keypad, and a “speed roller.” These controllers were compatible with a variety of games in addition to the one released with the set including Super Action Football, Rocky, Super Action Boxing, and a port of the arcade game Front Line.
– Unreleased Modules- It was rumored that there would be a compatibility module for the Intellivision however this module never materialized. Another module which was advertised but never made it into production was the Super Game Module which would have allowed for higher capacity games via the use of a Stringy Floppy Disc Drive though problems with reliability led to the module not being sold. It is also thought that the Super Game Module after failing to be successful morphed into the third module release which made the ColecoVision into the Adam.
Legacy of the ColecoVision:
In 1996 the first Homebrew game for the ColecoVision was released by Kevin Horton and the game was a port of Tetris and named Kevtris. The following year Telegames released a collection of ColecoVision games for Microsoft Windows called Personal Arcade Volume One and then released a followup to it in 1998 entitled ColecoVision Hits Volume One. Since then the console has been referenced by a number of modern television shows including VH1’s I Love the 80’s, South Park, Family Guy, and even Everybody Loves Chris.
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