Colecovision - the only system you'll ever need!

Bill Loguidice
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Top Five Homebrew Consoles

1 - Atari 2600 VCS
2 - Vectrex
3 - ColecoVision
4 - Intellivision
5 - Atari 5200

6 - Atari 7800?
x - NES, Atari Jaguar, Atari Lynx, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Sega CD, 3DO, Odyssey2, etc.

Since this is off the top of my head, I feel pretty good about 1 - 5 (though I may wish to flip-flop 4 and 5 with more thought), but I'd have to think more about 6 and the rest...

My criteria is new games first, new hardware/accessories second.

For computers, you generally see more hardware development than game development. In that regard, the Apple II series has very robust hardware development, putting it in number 1. Very few games, though. Certainly for games the Atari 8-bit and C-64 are popular targets, with more going to the former, especially to help fill holes in its library.

So with criteria new hardware/accessories first and new games second, I'd probably go:

1 - Apple II
2 - Atari 8-bit
3 - C-64
4 - MSX
x - Many others

Again, pure top of my head stuff...

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Rowdy Rob
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Top Five Homebrew Consoles? SMS and CV are Similar?
Bill Loguidice wrote:

Assuming the Atari 2600 is number 1, the ColecoVision is easily in the top five, arguably as high as number three and perhaps even challenging for number two.

I'm quite curious about this "top five." What are the other consoles in the "top five" of homebrew development today?

The Colecovision homebrews you've featured here (Bill) are stellar, and are the most exciting to me (at least what I have seen; the "Pac Man" homebrew might be the greatest homebrew arcade port EVER!). The "Realms of Quest III" has also seriously piqued my interest.

Mark Vergeer wrote:

Bill has mentioned the similarities between the Colecovision and the MSX standard a while back. But I recently learned that the Sega Master System and the gamegear can be added to that list. I recently learned there even was a console out there that was able to play both Colecovision and Sega Master System games. A clone but still.

This is quite surprising to me! I thought "no way, the SMS was clearly a different beast from the Colecovision," but I did a Wikipedia search of both platforms, and both shared surprisingly similar specs and lineages. The same processor, same lineage TI gfx chip (SMS had the next gen, of course), and the same sound chip (although the SMS had an additional Yamaha FM sound chip). If Coleco ever decided back in the day to create a next-generation Colecovision, perhaps it would have strongly resembled the Sega Master System!

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Mark Vergeer
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The Coleco back in the day was like the Dreamcast was....

The Colecovision back in the day was like the Dreamcast around the turn of the century.

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Bill Loguidice
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Dina clone system
Mark Vergeer wrote:

Bill has mentioned the similarities between the Colecovision and the MSX standard a while back. But I recently learned that the Sega Master System and the gamegear can be added to that list. I recently learned there even was a console out there that was able to play both Colecovision and Sega Master System games. A clone but still.

I have two of them, though I think only one works. It's the Dina 2 in 1, and for some time it was sold by Telegames as their own. It was able to play both ColecoVision and Sega SG-1000 (the pre-cursor to the Master System) games, though there are reports that in some models the Sega SG-1000 slot was disabled. In any case, they're pretty rare, the build quality is awful, and many of the design decisions on the thing were very, very questionable, all hallmarks of a bad Asian clone system.

Indeed, we've discussed this at length before--it's amazing how many platforms had similar underlying architectures, a la, ColecoVision/Adam, Sega SG-1000/SC-3000, MSX 1, Spectravideo SV-318/328, etc., and there were even some similarities to the TI-99/4(a) and Tomy Tutor, though those had very different processors. That's part of the reason why the ColecoVision is a favorite homebrew target these days--relatively easy conversions from SG-1000 and MSX releases...

By the way, I have a Japanese Sega SC-3000 computer, which is the computer version of the SG-1000 console. It plays all the same games, including the card games with the addition of the "card catcher". It was also sold in Australia in a format native to there.

Again, the ColecoVision didn't last long (1982 - 1984 essentially), but it's legacy and impact are surprisingly strong.

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Mark Vergeer
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Sega Master System, Colecovisio and MSX

Bill has mentioned the similarities between the Colecovision and the MSX standard a while back. But I recently learned that the Sega Master System and the gamegear can be added to that list. I recently learned there even was a console out there that was able to play both Colecovision and Sega Master System games. A clone but still.

I was exposed to the Colecovision back in the day, it was way more powerful than the 2600 in a lot of ways and as we had an Odyssey2/Videopac in the home the Colecovision at a friend's house received a lot of attention. Quite an innovative system.

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Bill Loguidice
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ColecoVision
Catatonic wrote:

I've never owned one, but our neighbours did 25+ years ago. The way I remember it, you finally got to play arcade quality games like Donkey Kong at home. That was pretty much all we wanted back then.

Absolutely, it was the PROMISE of arcade quality games. They were anything but, but they were the closest yet at the time.

A modern day gamer with access to MAME and commercial arcade emulators might ask why should I bother with the ColecoVision today when a relatively high percentage of its original software library were arcade conversions? What's empowering is that because we have arcade-perfect emulation, we can now enjoy these pre-crash arcade conversions even more, since we don't have to hold them up to the arcade original, only if they're fun or not on their own. The ColecoVision's original arcade conversions have that in spades.

The two biggest flaws of the original ColecoVision were its 1K RAM and often chunky scrolling due to its TI graphics chip. Many also didn't care for the controllers. Otherwise everything else was rock solid on the thing.

Finally, the other reason why a modern gamer should care is that it's a major target for wonderful homebrew games, some that blow away the best of what was available back in its day. Assuming the Atari 2600 is number 1, the ColecoVision is easily in the top five, arguably as high as number three and perhaps even challenging for number two.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
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I've never owned one, but

I've never owned one, but our neighbours did 25+ years ago. The way I remember it, you finally got to play arcade quality games like Donkey Kong at home. That was pretty much all we wanted back then.

Bill Loguidice
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It also is a popular homebrew target
Matt Barton wrote:

I'm a bit curious why there seems to be so much interest among AA folks with the ColecoVision. Was is just a platform you guys had back in the day and lots of nostalgia? Or is it something you discovered after the fact and got enamored with? I find it interesting, too, but not really moreso than I'd be interested in an Intellivision or comparable machines. I guess what I'm wondering is what is it about the CV that attracts so much devotion here?

I had it back in the day and still have it. It's historically fascinating. It has interesting peripherals/accessories. It came and went quickly, effectively being active on the market for two years, but made a big impression. It has the Adam connection, which is a whole other layer of fascinating. It was the only system pre-crash to really challenge Atari's home dominance. Etc. It's a big story and Coleco themselves is a fascinating company from a videogame standpoint, being the first home Pong clone maker and releasing an interesting variety of Pong variations, as well as a bizarre early cartridge-based system. They were big in handhelds and tabletops too. There's just a lot to it, you know? Of course there are several truly interesting and still compelling pre-crash consoles.

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Rowdy Rob
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The "Coleco" Generation.
Matt Barton wrote:

I'm a bit curious why there seems to be so much interest among AA folks with the ColecoVision. Was is just a platform you guys had back in the day and lots of nostalgia? Or is it something you discovered after the fact and got enamored with? I find it interesting, too, but not really moreso than I'd be interested in an Intellivision or comparable machines. I guess what I'm wondering is what is it about the CV that attracts so much devotion here?

Interesting questions, Matt. I can only answer, from my own experience, with nostalgia. I never owned a Colecovision (or any console until the late 90's/early 2000's), but the Colecovision was sort of a "transitional" console.

It's unfair to lump the CV with the Intellivision or Atari 2600, since it was designed to be the "next step," much like the Playstation to Playstation 2 or whatever. In hindsight, perhaps all these older consoles, released a few years between them, seem like one general console genre, but at the time, console gamers were looking for the next step up from the 2600 and Intellivision. The Colecovision came on the scene and promised that, with better audio/visuals and a gaming experience that was closer to the "arcade" experience.

And it was popular. The Colecovision was THE console to have! It made the Atari 2600 look like... an Atari 2600. :-) It was bright, whimsical, powerful, and fun. Atari 2600 games looked primitive, and the Intellivision looked dull (which it always did, in my book).

Probably all the "love" you're seeing for this console is due to the fact that the Colecovision really provided the "next generation" gaming that was promised by the earlier consoles, and many older gamers have fond memories of the advanced gaming they were doing on that console!

Thirty years from now, the Playstation 1 through Playstation 3 consoles might all seem to gel together as one console generation, but that's not how it appears to us now as we're living through it. Likewise, the Colecovision/Atari 5200 console "mini-era" was distinct from the Atari 2600/Intellivision/Odyssey era; it was the next step.

While the games/graphics might seem quaint now, it really was "WOW!" back then! Compared to the 2600, the Colecovision was clearly superior. The Atari 5200 doesn't get much love nowadays, perhaps because it was basically a retooled Atari 8-bit computer, but it also was part of the "next generation." Then the "Great Videogame Crash" occured, and the NES and Sega Master System arose from the ashes to take it up a notch more.

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Matt Barton
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I'm a bit curious why there

I'm a bit curious why there seems to be so much interest among AA folks with the ColecoVision. Was is just a platform you guys had back in the day and lots of nostalgia? Or is it something you discovered after the fact and got enamored with? I find it interesting, too, but not really moreso than I'd be interested in an Intellivision or comparable machines. I guess what I'm wondering is what is it about the CV that attracts so much devotion here?

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