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I *finally* ran my Odyssey (it's a run-2 in the case) in order to capture footage for the documentary. Luckily, the system worked perfectly. As a videogame historian, it was quite a profound experience for me to have a system from the year I was born start up as if it were 1972 all over again.
It truly is positively prehistoric in capabilities, but the basic design elements of the system are extraordinarily forward thinking, giving much credence to Ralph Baer as an unequivocal engineering genius and definitely unsung hero of the videogame revolution (that is, he should be exhalted much more than he has been). From the well-built removable controllers, to the TV switch box, to the practical plasticy design of the main unit, it truly would not look out of place into the early 1980's, which says something for a system first unleashed on the world in 1972 when NOTHING ELSE WAS OUT THERE and there was no videogame arcade to reference. When you play Table Tennis and Tennis, you see how obvious it was that Bushnell ripped the idea off (though he and Alcorn did make it arguably better and better for general consumption to make it the first hit mainstream videogame).
And the overlays? They work quite well. Again, the actual gameplay of the unit is very "manual" and basic, as Michael's blog posts have shown - and the lack of scoring and any type of sound are major detractors from the experience - but in short "wow". It's one thing to read about a system and know about a system, etc., but nothing beats first hand exposure to something.
That will teach me for sitting on a purchase for over three years before trying it out...
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
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