Odyssey², a home video game system by Magnavox 1978

Odyssey² and controllers

Odyssey² - The Keyboard Is the Key

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Magnavox 1978

Continuing Odyssey

Even though they pioneered home videogame consoles with the original Odyssey, Magnavox, a subsidiary of Dutch high-tech conglomerate Philips as of 1974, has to play some serious catch-up after the advent of programmable systems like the Channel F and VCS. Their answer is a redesign of a machine originally prototyped by the company in 1977, featuring 24 built-in games. Called the Odyssey² (O²), the system is re-tooled as a programmable machine and debuts for a suggested retail price of $199.95 in 1978. Seven game carts are available at launch, selling for $19.95. Also available is Computer Intro, which teaches users the basics of assembler and machine language programming for the low, low price of $24.95.

Inside the is an Intel 4-bit 8048 CPU, running at 1.78 MHz. It is touted as The Ultimate Video Game System, mainly on the strength of its innovative, but ultimately under-utilized, 49 key alphanumeric membrane keyboard. Making things annoying for anyone who might want to use the flat keyboard for programing, it also flies in the face of a regular keyboard layout by not having the Return/Enter key in the normal place, but in a row above the alphabetic keys right next to the reset button.  Still, the selling point of the keyboard forces Atari to release membrane keypad add-ons for their VCS for use with mathematical games and such. The falls short in other, more important categories; it has lower resolution graphics than the Atari VCS and only one audio channel, compared to its rival’s two. Another problem are the joysticks hardwired right into the machine, so that when the sticks wear out or break (which they often did), there is no choice but to take the whole contraption back to the dealer. This is later fixed in a remodelled Odyssey² with external joystick ports. The marketing strategy for the unit also leaves something to be desired. Unable or unwilling to heed lessons learned from the sales problems of their first Odyssey, distribution of the is again initially limited to authorized Magnavox dealers, severely limiting its sales potential.  The system has fairly better luck in Europe, where Philips markets it as the Videopac G7000. In fact, two other Videopac models are produced for the European market, the G7200 featuring a built-in monitor, and the G7400 which is the equivalent of the mysterious Odyssey³ (see below).

Pages from the manual of the Odyssey 2, a video game system by Magnavox

A colourful congrats! greets buyers of the O2 in the console manual, 1980

Page from the manual of the Odyssey2, a video game console by Magnavox

The family unit enjoys the video game unit, 1980

Designing Couple

Magnavox hardware engineer Sam Overton creates most of the initial game titles for the , including passes at most of the staple sports games like football, basketball and golf. However, North American Philips (NAP) decides that video games aren’t such a great way to sell television sets, and six months after the launch of the Odyssey² pulls the plug on the Game Group in an overture to pulling the machine off the market completely. Ed Averett is an electrical engineer and sales representative at Intel, supplier of chips for the Odyssey². When he hears that the system might be cancelled, he convinces his employer that keeping the  afloat will also keep open an avenue to sell Intel chips. Thus, Averett starts making games for the console from his home in Chattanooga, Tennessee as a freelance developer, along with his wife Linda, also an electrical engineer. They create about half of the 50 games eventually produced by Magnavox, receiving a royalty for each cartridge sold in lieu of a salary. The Averetts face some extremely limiting technical confines developing for the , such as a measly 2K of ROM available in each cartridge. The “Challenger Series” line of games bumps this up with 4K carts, but they still fill up fast.  With Ed designing the games while his wife programs, they crank out each game in about three months, amounting to some of the most creative home video games of the era. One of the Averetts’ creations becomes the crux on which the rises, only to eventually drop into oblivion.

The Krazy Chase

K.C. Munchkin! is created to capitalize on the immense success of arcade wunderkind Pac-Man, with the title of the game being a clever take on the name of NAP’s head of the Consumer Electronics Division, Kenneth Charles Meinken, Jr.. As Ed Averett is completing the game, Mike Staup, head of home game development at NAP, investigates the possibility of obtaining a home video game licence of Pac-Man for the. Finding the rights unavailable, NAP feels that the gameplay is safely different from Pac-Man to avoid a lawsuit against its own game, although it does tell Averett to change some aspects to further distance the game from the arcade hit, such as changing the colour of the main character from yellow to blue. The company also forbids any reference to Pac-Man in marketing materials… although retailers can’t help name-dropping the arcade sensation in their advertisements for Magnavox’s game. NAP releases K.C. Munchkin! in 1981, and it rapidly becomes the ‘s killer game, causing people to buy the system just to play it. And play the game they do: in its first two months on the market, K.C. Munchkin! outdoes the sales figures of every other game combined, including some that have been on the market two years. The popular game features such enhancements to the Pac-Man formula as pellets that move around the maze, and a rotating monster cage…. as well as the ability for users to build their own mazes.

Midway, owning the Pac-Man arcade rights, and Atari, owning the home video game rights and releasing its inferior version that same year, are not amused. The resulting flurry of litigation is enough to have people following the case snapping their necks back and forth as if watching a particularly intense rally in PONG. In November of 1981 Atari and Midway sue Magnavox and NAP over copyright infringement and unfair competition via the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, seeking an injunction to prevent the sale of K.C. Munchkin over the crucial Christmas season. While not successful at that time, a judge eventually agrees that the graphic elements of Munchkin are close enough to infringe on Atari’s licence, and sales of Averett’s game are halted. NAP then appeals to a Chicago district court, where Judge George N. Leighton rules that the different facial features separate the games enough, along with K.C.‘s moving maze as opposed to the static landscape of Pac-Man. He allows a temporary stay on the previous decision, and sales of Munchkin resume. Finally, this stay is challenged by Atari and Midway and overturned in 1982 in a Chicago federal appeals court which focuses on the visual similarities between the two games. Such aspects as both characters having a wedge for a mouth, similar sounds that play as they gobble the dots in the maze, and how both disappear when eaten themselves are focused on, as opposed to the overall gameplay. The court rules that while the games are not entirely identical,  “K.C. Munchkin captures the ‘total concept and feel’ of and is substantially similar to PAC-MAN.” It also doesn’t help that the Plaintiffs produce plenty of examples of retailer newspaper ads and store sales staff referring to K.C. Munchkin as “like Pac-Man” and “Odyssey’s Pac-Man“.

Of course, NAP has no real control over this type of independent promotion, and had specifically forbid such claims in advertisements for their game, but it still goes a way to show damage for the plaintiffs. NAP attempts to take the matter up with the U.S. Supreme Court, who refuse to hear the case. With an injunction in place, NAP can sell remaining stock in stores, but must notify dealers that no further orders can be made for their best-selling game, and the never really recovers from the loss. As for which version is better, it’s certainly debatable. On a basic level, for a game dedicated to eating things, Pac-Man has an entire maze full of dots to munch on, so it’s arguably more satisfying. Then again, K.C.‘s quarry personifies “fast food”.

K.C.'s Krazy Chase!, a maze video game for the Odyssey 2 video game console

Revenge is a dish best served with green trees. K.C.’s Krazy Chase!, 1982

Averett strikes back in October 1982 with the utterly amazing K.C.’s Krazy Chase!, with our intrepid K.C. rolling through a forested maze trying to eat the tail of a creature called a “Dratapillar”…a thinly disguised poke at Atari. Smaller legged creatures called “Drats” also chase the titular character around. While being a debut action game for The Voice speech attachment (see below), and easily one of the most graphically complex and enjoyable games of the pre-1980 home videogames, K.C. Munchkin! comes too late to save the .

Click the button to play K.C.’s Krazy Chase on the

This is The Voice

Magnavox is quick out of the gate with their speech-synthesizer, set to be released in the 4th quarter of 1982 with the name Voice of Odyssey. Eventually shortened to just The Voice, it is a large $99.95 add-on that fits over the top panel and cartridge slot of the , with its own slot to accept game carts. Containing the same General Instruments speech chip as Mattel’s Intellivoice for their Intellivision console, Magnavox’s version holds a vocabulary of over 100 word spoken with a male voice, along with various sound effects and musical cues.  Audio is produced through its own speaker and volume control, so users can adjust the loudness of voices independently of the game audio emitting from the TV. Outside of the canned expressions contained in The Voice, additional words can be formed by the device through the use of vocal sounds pieced together to produce human speech, although such assembled speech sounds much more mechanical. It is due to this process that it has the unique ability to  speak out words typed using the  keyboard.

Voice add-on for the Odyssey 2, a home video game console by NAP

It can talk! It can talk! It can talk! It can talk! It can siiiiiiiiiiiing no it can’t sing

The Voice, a speech synthesis add-on for the Odyssey 2 video game console

Slap The Voice onto your Odyssey 2 console and let the talking commence! 1982

For the  and its voice add-on to accomplish this task, one has to purchase the first cartridge available for the unit, Type and Tell! Running this cartridge will put a 12×6 matrix of blocks on the TV screen. When a letter is pushed on the keyboard, it will appear in the next block and a cursor advances to the right. The space bar can be used to separate words, and once the user has constructed a word or sentence, they can hit the Enter key to have the console speak it back. While this is the only function of the cartridge, the manual helpfully suggest four games that people can play while making their  talk. At a retail price of $39.95 for Type and Tell!, the novelty of having your console attempt to speak seems a bit pricey. Other games like K.C.’s Krazy Chase also utilize The Voice in their gameplay, but the voice unit isn’t mandatory for the game to operate; only if the user wants the simple voice prompts that spur the game on, such as “Watch Out” or “Incredible”, along with an appropriately krazy laugh from K.C. as he finishes a maze . 

The Quest for the Rings video game for the O2

The Quest For The Rings, first of the Master Strategy games for the Magnavox Odyssey 2

Reaching for the Rings

The Odyssey² is named Official Video Game of the 1982 World’s Fair. No doubt this choice is facilitated by the fact that the 1982 World’s Fair is held in Knoxville, Tennessee… which also serves as the HQ for Magnavox. Fifteen Odyssey² displays, complete with Magnavox TV, console and a selection of around six games each, can be found at the America’s Electrical Energy exhibit. Events include the Pick Axe Pete Pick-Off tournament, which results in one pound of gold (then worth around $6,000, as of this writing currently $16,372) awarded to contest winner 10-year old Tony Scardigno, hailing from Weehawken, NJ..


Neither this hoopla, nor The Voice, nor the Computer Intro cartridge (a program designed to teach assembler and machine language) help to jump-start the Odyssey²‘s dwindling market share. The Master Strategy series of games are a grand hope of redemption for the console, produced by Stephen Lehner and Ronald Bradford of Wilmette, Illinois. Operating a design firm called Lehner Bradford and Cout, they are pretty familiar with Magnavox video game systems; they had done graphic design work for the original Odyssey, including advertising material, all of the game box art, and even the infamous mylar TV screen overlays. The firm had also designed the “vanishing point”  logo and did nearly all of the package graphics work for the newer system. Programming for the Master Series is done by the prolific Ed and Linda Averett. It is the opinion of Lehner and Bradford that Magnavox is underutilizing the key feature of the  that separates it from the competition, its keyboard. Little has been done with the keyboard innovation, aside from input in some educational games and the video game console first of being able to input your name with a high score, introduced in 1981’s UFO!. The Master Strategy games aim to correct that oversight.

The Quest for the Rings, a video game for the Odyssey 2 video game console

Strategy Series game The Quest for the Rings, for the Odyssey²

A 1981 ad spread for The Quest for the Rings, a video game for the Odyssey 2

4-page ad for The Quest for the Rings, Electronic Games 1981

The Quest for the Rings, a strategy video game for the Odyssey 2, by Magnavox

The physical game elements included with The Quest for the Rings, for the Odyssey²

Manual cover for The Quest for the Rings, a strategy game for the Odyssey² video game console

Manual cover for The Quest for the Rings, 1981

J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy Lord of the Rings books inspire the first entry, titled The Quest for the Rings, with a suggested price by the manufacturer of $49.95. The player has a choice of four characters to play: A wizard, warrior, changeling or phantom….along with the possibility of another player acting as the Ringmaster. Adventuring gamers are tasked with finding 10 magical rings hidden within the 23 castles located on a physical game board included in the box… a feature common to the Master Strategy series. Battles in the game, against creatures like dragons, orcs and the Spydroth Tyrantulus, are played out on the TV screen. The Quest for the Rings goes on to win a 1982 Arcade Award for Most Innovative Game from Electronic Games, the premiere videogame magazine of the time.

Another title available in the Master Strategy game series is military strategy game Conquest of the World, tasking users to take over the globe. The game utilizes an accurate weighting system for each country that is claimed by Magnavox to have been developed from a formula created by the deputy director of the CIA. Also included in the series is high-stakes financial simulation The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt… itself a winner of the Most Innovative Videogame ‘Arkie’ award from Electronic Games in 1983. Appearing between 1981 and 1982, each of the three games have extended memory, complex packaging and include plastic and metal game pieces used on a highly detailed game board packed with the game which players use as a supplement to the onscreen action. A lot of interaction with the keyboard is also required. Keeping in the spirit of the Wall Street game, it is debuted at the 1981 Winter CES in Las Vegas accompanied by a heavily guarded 15′ high display featuring a stack of one million 1 dollar bills. A fourth Master Strategy game, called The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with gameplay based on the famous board game Clue, begins development for the Odyssey³ /Command Center (see below) but is never completed. The popularity of the Master Strategy series is enough to entice Magnavox to commission a full-colour magazine dedicated to the console and its games. Odyssey Adventure is a quarterly magazine that runs from Winter 1982 to Winter 1983.

quest for the rings video game for the odyssey 2 video game console

Unlike a video game you’ve ever experienced. The Quest for the Rings, for the Odyssey², 1981 ad

1983 Winter CES booth for Odyssey, a home video game system

The Winter 1983 CES booth for Odyssey in Las Vegas, featuring the debut of the Odyssey Command Center

A New Path

By the end of 1981 the Odyssey² no longer falls under the Magnavox brand, having been given its own division under NAP. This move is a bid to expand distribution of the console outside of authorized Magnavox dealers, including a deal with Sears to stock the console and its games on their shelves. A new in-house development team titled the Game Group, headed by original game programmer Sam Overton, has also been set up to provide new games for the system. Through 1982 and into 1983, the console also starts getting some third-party software support, including two cartridges by game maker Imagic… one of them of course being their powerhouse hit Demon Attack, released in March of 1983. Four arcade translations from Parker Brothers also help the console’s cause.

The Odyssey Command Center, sequel to the Odyssey 2 video game system

The Odyssey Command Center, formerly the Odyssey 3, 1983

The next generation Odyssey³ is previewed at the 1983 January CES, with 16K of RAM, Z80B CPU, a chiclet-style keyboard, new voice-synthesizer and optional 300 baud modem, along with a later announced laserdisc module to play games such as arcade sensation Dragon’s Lair. The improved keyboard (at least, over the original membrane one) also features three user-definable keys. Display resolution comes in at 320×210 pixels, even better than Mattel’s planned next-gen console powerhouse Intellivision III. Expected to launch in the summer of the next year, to play on this souped up system N.A.P. promises 12 new games alongside the console, a combo of both new titles and improved Odyssey² games. The is subsequently re-tooled as the Odyssey Command Center, with an expected release in the 3rd quarter of 1983 and a listed price of $199. The most far-reaching aspect of the Command Center is probably the expansion port at the back of the device, which allows for a range of plug-ins for added features, such as voice synthesis, modem to connect with online communication services like CompuServe and a computer programming module with a Z80B CPU and 16K of RAM. The rear of the device also has spots where the redesigned joysticks for the system can be stored.

Command Center announcement video shown by Philips at 1983 Summer CES
By the time of the CES reveal, the Averetts have stepped off the video game merry-go-round, so a software development team for Command Center games led by Sam Overton is set up in the hills of Tennessee called The Odyssey Software Development Group, or Odyssey West. Larger games with advanced graphics are developed, such as an adaptation of Stern Electronics’ arcade game Turtles, by Jim Butler. The Command Center is fully backwards compatible with  games, although things get a tad complicated in this regard. Popular titles for the  are to be enhanced with colourful and detailed backgrounds for the newer unit, although the main forefront gameplay elements would still appear the same as the original game. These new enhanced versions can be played on the original   as well, although the backgrounds would revert back to as before, such as the black limbo of Pick Axe Pete. NAP announces that around twelve games will be available exclusively for the Command Center and which will take full advantage of its advanced capabilities. These include even more deluxe versions of the Master Strategy Series, including a planned Master Strategy football game that would sport multiple teams, tradeable players, and would offer gameplay over an entire football season. Turtles and Killer Beesby Bob Harris, do make it to market as new games for the original  , but the Odyssey Command Center is eventually canned by NAP towards the end of 1983. The company is afraid that the console would be obsolete by the time it was released, although it does see some limited release in Europe, as the Phillips G7400.

The Odyssey Ends

With about one million units sold by 1983, the Odyssey² does beat out every other fringe system like the Channel FVectrex and the Bally Professional Arcade, but it only wins five percent of the home video game market, compared to the commanding eighty percent held by the Atari 2600. Talk of a new laserdisc game system, marrying the  with Magnavox’s Laservision videodisc technology comes to naught, and work on the fourth Master Strategy game, announced in 1982 and called Sherlock Holmes, is begun by Lehner and Bradford but is not to be. In a strong signal that NAP has lost hope for a revival of their console, the company announces plans in 1982 to publish games for competing systems, under the Probe 2000 label. Titles such as Pursuit of the Pink Panther (né The Adventures of the Pink Panther), Lords of the Dungeon (né Caverns and Creatures) and Power Lords: Quest for Volcan are queued up, but only War Room for ColecoVision ends up getting released; NAP claims a chronic microchip shortage and technical problems with the expanded chips that were to be included in the new cartridges has put a kibosh on the whole endeavour. Power Lords does wind up doing battle on the O², though.  When the videogame market crashes in 1983 – 84, so does Probe 2000 and the itself. The old war horse reaches the end of the road in March of 1984 when NAP announces the dissolution of the Odyssey division. logo_stop

Logo for Magnavox, makers of the Odyssey 2 video game console

Comin’ at ya! Magnavox logo, 1981

Ralph Bear, father of video games, using an Odyssey 2 video game console

Ralph Baer, creator of the original Odyssey, at the controls of the Odyssey²

Sources (Click to view)


Page 1 – Continuing Odyssey
Development of the Odyssey²
Odyssey2 Owner’s Manual, North American Philips Consumer Electronics Corp., 1980. Images of Congratulations! and Family with O2 joysticks.
I.C. When -1978- – www.icwhen.com/book/the70s/1978.html
The Odyssey² Homepage, “The Odyssey² Timeline!” by William Cassidy

Creative Computing, “Compleat Computer Catalogue, Miscellaneous, MPU Video Game”, pg. 28, Sep 1978. “Seven of the optional cartridges will have a suggested retail price of $19.95. The eighth cartridge, Computer Introduction, will carry a suggested list price of $24.95.” Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Creative Computing collection, Sep 28, 2015.
The Odyssey² Homepage! – Odyssey²/Videopac FAQ: The Essentials, by William Cassidy – www.the-nextlevel.com/odyssey2/faq/essentials/

Kaos’ Odyssey^2 Page – www.iaw.on.ca/~kaos/systems/Odyssey2/index.html

Odyssey2 Intro – Digital Press Online – www.digitpress.com/emu/o2_top.htm
Odyssey2 FAQ – http://www.austinvideogames.com/FAQs/FAQ_Odyssey2.htm
 
Page 1 – Designing Couple
Ed and Linda Averett, Principle Game Designers for the Odyssey²
Halcyon Days – www.dadgum.com/halcyon.html
Images of Sam Overton, as well as Ed and Linda Averett, and other information come from Odyssey Adventure, “So You Want to Be a Video Games Inventor”, photographers Fred Leavitt and Terry Moore, pg. 8, Issue 1 Winter 1982

 
Page 1 – The Krazy Chase
K.C. Munchkin and the Atari Pac-Man Lawsuit
Dortch, Chris. “Knoxville-based Company Offers ‘Odyssey’ to Ends of Imagination.” Kingsport Times-News 12 Feb. 1982: 3. Newspapers.com. Web. 27 July 2021. The company’s K.C. Munchkin game, similar to the popular Atari arcade game Pac Man, sold more cartridges in its first two months than any of the others combined. “We have games that have been in our catalog two years, and in two months, K.C. Munchkin has outsold them all,” said [Ed] Williams [NAP PR specialist]
K.C. Munchkin! Official Rules, North American Philips Consumer Electronics Corp., 1981. Images from K.C. Munchkin manual.
Wikipedia – Munchkin – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munchkin_(video_game)
Electronic Games, “Electronic Games Hotline: Pac-Man Bites K.C. Munchkin!”, pg. 9, Jul 1982. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Electronic Games magazine collection
Possley, Maurice. “Pac-Man Wins Fight in Court.” Austin American-Statesman (Field News Service) 04 Mar. 1982: C21. Newspapers.com. Web. 2 Jan. 2021. The U.S. Court of Appeals, in a ruling issued this week, blocked the sale of K.C. Munchkin…. as violating the copyright of Pac-Man. ;U.S. District Judge George N. Leighton had ruled earlier that the games were not similar when examined in detail and refused to enjoin the sale of Munchkin. Leighton agreed with North American Philips that the Munchkin gobbler had different facial features and that the game was different because the Pac-Man maze stayed the same while the Munchkin maze shifted constantly. But the appeals court noted that the Munchkin gobbler has “several blatantly similar features,” including the V-shape mouth, “it’s distinctive gobbling action (with appropriate sounds), and the way it disappears upon being captured.”
Leagle, “Atari, Inc. v. North American, Etc.”, by Wood and Eschibach, Circuit Judges, and Gordon, District Judge, Mar 2, 1982. “…North American [Philips] sought to obtain from Midway a license under the PAC-MAN copyright and trademark.” “Mr. Averett was told to make further changes in the game characters. As a result, the color of the gobbler was changed from yellow to its present bluish color.” “An independent retailer in the Chicago area nonetheless ran advertisements in the Chicago Sun-Time and the Chicago Tribune, describing K.C. Munchkin as “a Pac-Man type game.” “Based on an ocular comparison of the two works… K.C. Munchkin captures the “total concept and feel” of and is substantially similar to PAC-MAN.” Retrieved from Leagle, Sep 13, 2015.
Showtime Video. Chicago Tribune 27 Dec. 1981: 10. Print. Ad for K.C. Munchkin stating “Why wait for PacMan”?
Showtime Video. Chicago Tribune 27 Nov. 1981: 16. Print. Ad for K.C. Munchkin stating “the game as challenging as Pacman”?
Video Etc. Chicago Tribune 27 Dec. 1981: Section 13 – 11. Print. Ad for K.C. Munchkin stating “More Challenging than PAC MAN”
Videogaming Illustrated, “Eye On: The First Home Videogame Sequel!”, pg. 60, Oct 1982. “In October, Odyssey will release K.C.’s Krazy Chase…” Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Videogaming Illustrated collection, Sep 14 2015.
WallyWonka. “Odyssey 2 3D Boxes Pack.” EmuMovies. N.p., 12 June 2017. Web. 18 Aug. 2020. Image of K.C.’s Krazy Chase! game box
 
Page 2 – This is the Voice
The Voice Speech Synthesis Module
Goodman, Danny. “Videogames That Talk.” Comp. Jason Scott. Radio Electronics June 1983: 77. Internet Archive. 27 Mar. 2013. Web. 3 Oct. 2019. <https://archive.org/details/radio_electronics_1983-06/page/n76>. The two add-on modules [Intellivision and The Voice] contain a speech-synthesis IC-set manufactured by General Instrument.
The Voice installation diagram from Electronic Games, “Test Lab: Make Your Games Talk” by Henry B. Cohen, pgs. 110-111, Jul 1983. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Electronic Games magazine collection 
WallyWonka. “Odyssey 2 3D Boxes Pack.” EmuMovies, 12 June 2017, emumovies.com/files/file/2535-odyssey-2-3d-boxes-pack/. Game box images of The Voice Series games.
 
 
Page 2 – Reaching for the Rings
Knoxville 1982 World’s Fair
Magnavox. The Quest For The Rings. Knoxville, TN: Magnavox, 1981. Internet Archive. 9 Feb. 2019. Web. 20 Aug. 2021. Image of the included elements in The Quest for the Rings, Images of the realms of The Quest for the Rings
Papa, Vincent. “I/O Breakdown!” Comp. Scottithgames. Videogaming and Computer Gaming Illustrated Nov. 1983: 20. Internet Archive. 26 May 2013. Web. 9 Sept. 2021. Image of The Quest for the Rings box and board, 1983
North American Philips Consumer Electronics Corp. (1982). The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt. Andover, Massachusetts; N.A.P. https://archive.org/details/great-wall-street-fortune-hunt-the/page/n3/mode/2up. Image of gameboard from The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt
Scott, Jason. Suche Nach Den Ringen, Die – Map (1982) (Philips). Digital image. Internet Archive. 29 May 2013. Web. 20 Aug. 2021. Image of game board map from The Quest for the Rings
Scott, Jason. Suche Nach Den Ringen, Die – Overlay. Digital image. Internet Archive. 29 May 2013. Web. 20 Aug. 2021.
Magnavox Odyssey 2 Game Catalog. Magnavox Odyssey 2 Game Catalog, Magnavox Consumer Electronics Company, 1981. 3-D Magnavox logo
Arcade Express: Odyssey² Named Official Videogame of World’s Fair, “…located in the pavilion for America’s Electrical Energy Exhibit…”, pg. 2, Aug 15, 1982. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Arcade Express newsletter collection
Electronic Fun with Computers and Games, “E.F.G. Times: 10-year old Wins Pick Axe Pete Championship”, Feb 1983. “Tony Scardigno of Weehawken, New Jersey, was awarded one pound of gold…”. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, EFWCG collection, Sep 8, 2015.
 
The Master Strategy Series
Images of Ron Bradford & Steve Lehner, as well as the Averetts & kids, and other information come from Odyssey Adventure, “Behind the Workings of the Mind”, photographers Fred Leavitt and Terry Moore, pgs. 4 – 5, Issue 1 Winter 1982
The Odyssey² Homepage, archived Illinois newspaper article, “Electronic Game Wizards”, by Herbert G. McCann, Nov 26 1981
Electronic Games, “The 1982 Arcade Awards”, pgs. 46-49, Mar 1982. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Electronic Games magazine collection

The History of How We Play. “Leisure Time Electronics Reports.” 2 June 1981. Internet Archive, archive.org/details/19810602LeisureTimeElectronicsReports/page/n5. $1 million in $1 bills, in a glass case that stands 15 feet high, on display in the Magnavox booth…
Staples, Betsy. “What’s New for ’82, Video Games, Magnavox.” Creative Computing May 1982: 72. “Magnavox dramatized their slogan, ‘You can feel like a million bucks playing The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt,’ with a heavily-guarded display of one million dollars in silver dollars and poker chips.” Creative Computing Magazine (May 1982) Volume 08 Number 05. Internet Archive. Web. 05 Nov. 2015.
“The 1983 Arcade Awards.” Electronic Games Jan. 1983. Retromags. Web. 5 Apr. 2021. Most Innovative Videogame – Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt
Image of the Conquest of the World box cover from Encyclopedia Gamia – gaming.wikia.com/wiki/File:ConquestoftheWorldOdy2.jpg
Images of the Sherlock Holmes game board and box art courtesy of The Odyssey² Homepage! – Ron Bradford Photo Gallery – http://www.the-nextlevel.com/odyssey2/articles/bradford/gallery.php

Dortch, Chris. “Knoxville-based Company Offers ‘Odyssey’ to Ends of Imagination.” Kingsport Times-News 12 Feb. 1982: 3. Newspapers.com. Web. 27 July 2021. “In Conquest of the World, the concept is to eventually win control of the entire world. The points weightings given to each country are so accurate they’re based on a formula devised by the deputy director of the CIA.”
“Odyssey².” The Video Game Update , August 1982, p. 4.
Newly announced for that series [Master Strategy] is the Fall release of Clue, based on that very popular board game that has been around for years. It’s different from the board game in that it is set in the late 19th century of Sherlock Holmes’ London. We are still expecting the introduction of the VOICE OF ODYSSEY, a voice synthesis module set to retail for $99.95. Talk is that one of the first MASTER STRATEGY games to be made available [for the O3] will be an entire football season… with multiple teams, players who can be traded and much more!

Blanchet, Michael, and Randi Hacker. “They’re Almost Here: A Monster-sized Preview of New Games.” Comp. Scottithgames. Electronic Fun with Computers & Games May 1983: 31. Internet Archive. 28 May 2013. Web. 26 Aug. 2021. The Odyssey library will include some licensed properties this year, including Stern’s Turtles, as well as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (for the Odyssey³).
 
Page 2 – A New Path
NAP Absorbs Magnavox/Imagic/Odyssey³/Odyssey Command Center
Ahl, David H., and Betsy Staples. “1983 Winter Consumer Electronics Show.” Comp. Unknown. Creative Computing Apr. 1983: 18-50. Internet Archive. 13 Mar. 2017. Web. 14 Sept. 2021. Image of Odyssey 1983 Winter Consumer Electronics show booth. Photo by David Ahl
Prince, Suzan D. “Odyssey 3 Command Center.” Comp. Jason Scott. Video Games June 1983: 45-47. Internet Archive. 31 May 2013. Web. 13 Sept. 2021. Image of the Odyssey 3 system, with Command Center cartridge inserted
Image of Odyssey Command Centre and other information from Radio-Electronics, “Videogames ’83”, by Danny Goodman, pgs. 56-58, Jun 1983
“Electronic Games Hotline: Odyssey Outlook.” Editorial. Electronic Games Winter 1981: 16+. Electronic Games – Volume 01 Number 01 (1981-12)(Reese Communications)(US). Internet Archive. Web. 07 Feb. 2016. Odyssey, now out from under Magnavox and operating as a separate division of North American Phillips…
Electronic Games, “Players Guide to Programmable Videogames – Odyssey: The Flexible System”, pgs. 71 – 73, Vol. 2 Num. 9, Nov 1983
MicrofilmIssueGenerator, comp. “Odyssey3 Console Makes Game/computer Transition.” Mart Jan. 1983: 20. Internet Archive. 11 Aug. 2021. Web. 23 Aug. 2021. When the new console [O3] is delivered next summer, at least 12 game cartridges will be offered with it, both upgraded versions of current Odyssey games and new games with enhanced graphics; all the new games will include voice.
Goodman, Danny. “Videogames ’83.” Comp. Jason Scott. Radio Electronics June 1983: 58. Internet Archive. 27 Mar. 2013. Web. 3 Oct. 2019. <https://archive.org/details/radio_electronics_1983-06/page/n53>. Also planned is a computer programming module housing a Z80B microprocessor and 16K of RAM.
Odyssey Adventure, “What’s New At ‘Odyssey West’?”, pg. 6, Issue 5 Winter 1983

“Imagic.” The Video Game Update , August 1982, p. 1.
They [Imagic] have also announced plans for the release of cartridges for the Odyssey² system beginning in early 1983. Again, DEMON ATTACK should be one of the first games available for that system.

Scottithgames, comp. “Input-output.” Electronic Fun with Computers and Games Jan. 1984: 10. Internet Archive. 28 May 2013. Web. 11 Feb. 2020. Odyssey initially planned to release four games in their “Probe 2000” series… These first four carts were Pursuit of the Pink Panther… Power Lords: Quest for Volcan… War Room… and Lords of the Dungeon (the earlier title was Caverns and Creatures). Unfortunately, the only one that you’re going to be able to buy is War Room. …the first three have been permanently cancelled by Odyssey due to serious “technical problems” with the RAM chips in the carts.
WallyWonka. “Odyssey 2 3D Boxes Pack.” EmuMovies, 12 June 2017, emumovies.com/files/file/2535-odyssey-2-3d-boxes-pack/. Game box images of K.C. Munchkin!,  Power Lords, Turtles, War Room and Killer Bees.
 
Page 2 – The Odyssey Ends
Odyssey² Discontinued
Videogaming and Computergaming Illustrated, “Focus On: I/O Breakdown!” by Vincent Papa, pgs. 19-24, Nov 1983. “Cheaper, more diversified, shoot-em-up-orientated Atari held eighty percent of the videogame market, Intellivision fifteen percent, and Odyssey five.” Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Videogaming Illustrated collection, Sept 18 2015.
Aboutist, comp. “Ralph Baer: El Padre De Los Videojuegos.” Hobby Consolas 283. Internet Archive. 28 Sept. 2019. Web. 27 Oct. 2021. Image of Ralph Baer at the controls of the Odyssey²
 
Unannotated, Uncategorized or I Just Don’t Damn Remember!
Electronic Games, “Inside Gaming”, by Bill Kunkel, pg. 8 -9, Vol. 1 Num. 2, Mar 1982. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Electronic Games magazine collection
Electronic Games, “Q&A”, by The Game Doctor, pg. 93, Jan 1983. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Electronic Games magazine collection
Creative Computing Video & Arcade Games, “Video Games Update”, by Danny Goodman, pg. 42, Vol. 1 No. 1, Spring 1983. Retrieved from Digital Press, Creative Computing Video & Arcade Games magazine collection  Video Games, “Briefs: Atari v. Coleco & Imagic; This Means War!”, by Steve Bloom, pg. 80, Vol. 1 Num. 6, Mar 1983. Retrieved from Digital Press, Video Games magazine collection
Electronic Games, “Games on Disc” by Henry Cohen, pgs. 24-27, Aug 1982. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Electronic Games magazine collection
Electronic Games, “Q & A” by the Game Doctor, pg. 53, Mar 1982. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Electronic Games magazine collection
Electronic Games, “Preview of the New Videogames” by Arnie Katz & Bill Kunkel, pgs. 32-37, 66, Oct 1982. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Electronic Games magazine collection
Radio-Electronics, “Video Electronics – Space Wars”, by David Lachenbruch, pg. 4, June 1982. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Radio-Electronics magazine collection

Thanks to William Cassidy at The Odyssey² Homepage!

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  1. avatarJim Loftus

    Great article! Some nice nuggets of info I have never read anywhere else. I have fond memories of the Dawn of Gaming, back when everything was pretty much “new to the world,” and most kids would pretty much shit themselves at the sight of each and every incremental advance of technology. Back in ’81-’82 I had a 2600 at the same time I owned an O2. The 2600 won out 90% of the time but certain games were pretty sick on the O2 (K.C. Munchkin, UFO). No exaggeration, this was an incredibly fascinating time for a kid growing up!

    Reply
    1. avatarWilliam

      The O2 is definitely a fascinating console. I remember thinking of the amazing potential a keyboard would bring for immersive games… although Magnavox failed to sell that potential until the later gameboard hybrid games, and by then we had all moved on to next wave consoles.

      Reply

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