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Analogic (Magnavox Odyssey, 1972)

Analogic: Takes place on a spacescape overlayed by a grid of seemingly random numbers.Analogic: Takes place on a spacescape overlayed by a grid of seemingly random numbers. It impresses me that the Odyssey, a system that doesn't do math, would be the system to introduce a game with arithmetic as its focus. In addition to being the first math edutainment vehicle, Analogic is also the first Science Fiction-themed home videogame.

The Analogic Überlay is a grid of seemingly random numbers superimposed over a simple spacescape. I say "seemingly" because those numbers are actually a maze. (It's important to keep that in mind for later.) Each player controls a PlayerSpot which starts the game at either the planet Even in the upper left, or the planet Odd in the lower right. They represent “light beam transceivers”. The light beam itself is the BallSpot. To setup the game, players bring out the BallSpot and, using their ENGLIGH knobs, maneuver it so that it is constantly bouncing back and forth between the two PlayerSpots.

The object of Analogic is for each player to traverse the space between the Odd/Even worlds and reach the other player’s starting position before their opponent does by choosing odd or even numbers on a vertical or horizontal path. Doing so will involve math.

Haunted House (Magnavox Odyssey, 1972)

Haunted House Overlay: Even the translucent areas retain their spookiness.Haunted House Overlay: Even the translucent areas retain their spookiness.I love the Überlay for this game. It's a silhouette of a stereotypical haunted house. The house is three stories tall and filled with items such as bats, cats, skulls and candelabra. You play the game by moving your Detective through the house and "lighting" each item one at a time, in order, as specified by numbered, drawn cards. (For those just tuning in, "Lighting" involves moving your TV square behind an on-screen area, causing it to glow.) If you successfully light the item, you collect the card for that item.

Cat and Mouse (Magnavox Odyssey, 1972)

Cat & Mouse Overlay: What's a five-letter word for devoured?Cat & Mouse Overlay: What's a five-letter word for devoured?Picture a crossword puzzle grid (see overlay left). You know the type, empty squares (for the letters) and full squares (uh, not for the letters). The players start with their Player Spots on the Mouse and Cat icons respectively, which are already placed in the maze. In one corner of the maze is a "mouse house". (Yes, that's what "they" call it). The mouse has to get to his house before the cat gets him, but must do so by moving through only the white squares of the maze. The cat must obey the same limitation. If either the cat spot or the mouse spot overlap with one of the dark parts of the crossword puzzle-like landscape, they have to go back to their starting position.

Submarine (Magnavox Odyssey, 1972)

Submarine's Overlay: Similar to Ski except for the "being torpedoed" part.Submarine's Overlay: Similar to Ski except for the "being torpedoed" part.I think that Submarine would count as the First Home Shooter, ever!

PlayerOne plays the Convoy Commander and controls the square on the screen designated as “The Convoy”. The Convoy Commander must move the ConvoySpot through the shipping lanes, represented by a convoluted path, by staying on the path the whole way. If the Commander strays off the path, a ship in the aggregate ConvoySpot inevitably hits a mine and sinks. Meanwhile, PlayerTwo is the Submarine Commander. The Submarine Commander sits just outside the shipping lanes and tries to sink the convoy ships.

Matt Barton's picture

Coin-Op TV interviews Ralph Baer, Inventor of Electricity

Who invented PONG? Better yet, who invented the video game? Most people would say "Nolan Bushnell," and a few others "William A. Higinbotham." Or was it Steve Russell? It's a tough enough question for any serious videogame historian. However, if you asked Ralph Baer, he'd tell you that he was the first person in the history of the world to "come up with the idea of playing games on a screen" or some such nonsense. At any rate, although an avid self-promoter, Ralph Baer truly hasn't gotten the credit he deserves for his hard work and ingenuity with the "Brown Box," the first home game console and the progenitor to the Magnavox Odyssey. Now, thanks to Coin-Op TV, you can see Baer in his domain, and get his perspective on how videogame history REALLY begins with him. (Note, if the link doesn't work, try here.)

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