Confessions Of An Old Video-Game Junkie

There’s a new shiny bauble in the world of Retro-Gaming – Was I wrong for grabbing it?

This article was published before my Flashback order arrived – to check out the actual review, Click Here!

So, on a whim, in the wee hours of the morning, I go looking on eBay for a used Intellivision II console. Why? It’s a long story. Suffice to say, I used to have all but twelve of the released games for the Intellivision, complete with docs and overlays, mind you (I don’t do loose carts), a couple of spare consoles, all the peripherals (voice, ECS, music keyboard and Atari adapter). The only games I didn’t have sucked, so I didn’t want them, anyway. here’s a picture of just the basic system. I had another photo of all the peripherals in their original boxes, but I seem to have lost it over the sands of time:

Intellivision Far Angle

Key words, I used to have this stuff. One particularly needy day, I put it all up for sale on eBay to help pay the rent. The winning bid, from a guy in Germany, was a really great price that definitely got me closer to paying the rent – but I would never be the same. I missed the thing. It wasn’t modern video-gaming bliss, but it was a part of my childhood. I had lucked-out at an auction and scored three brand-new Intellivision II’s, cashed-in on the Great Video Game Crash in the eighties to scoop up everything that was available for it at mere cents on a dollar, and kept everything neatly in their boxes when I wasn’t tinkering with it. Frankly, for better or worse, I doted over the thing. Now, it was gone.

Later, I did get a used (aren’t they all, now?) Intellivision original version console via eBay, with a few cartridges, to try to stave-off the melancholy. But I refused to start trying to collect the system ever again – I would NEVER find the stuff in the same condition as I had before, brand new in the box – and if I DID, I’d NEVER be able to afford it. Sadly, my current Intellivision wheezes every time I turn it on, like trying to get grandpa away from the television to take a walk outside: “Do I have to? I’m so comfortable just sitting here…” Once in awhile (okay, often) it just stops in the middle of a game, or the screen goes all wonky for no apparent reason, and I sigh a sad sigh, the saddest sigh of a person who had everything but lost it all, and put my inferior replacement back in the closet.

Last night I logged-onto eBay to at least find a lesser-dead model, one that might actually go the distance of ONE FRICKING GAME-PLAY, and would only stop when I turned it off. I thought that might be a nice change. What the heck, people are probably itching to clean out their closet’s, anyway. I thought it would be a piece of cake.

Wow. I was wrong. Have you SEEN the prices of classic consoles, now? Holy crap, forget about rent, if I had sold my original collection today, I could have bought a new car. I am not paying one-hundred dollars for your beat-up Intellivision with twenty loose cartridges. I’m not paying seventy dollars for your non-working but very clean Intellivision II for parts.

While shaking my head in disbelief, I saw listings for something called an Intellivision Flashback. What is that, you ask? Well, it’s a little all-in-one gaming thing – but supposedly a little nicer than those dinky little plug-and-play joysticks that play five or six arcade games from your childhood. It’s from At Games, a company that’s made a name for itself re-marketing classic gaming devices. They scored big when they made deals with Atari and Sega to repackage their classic games in little mini-replicas of the old consoles, complete with “XX” number of built-in games. They will be releasing one of these little numbers for the Intellivision on October 1st.INTV

The coolest thing in the picture: The original-styled controllers. Computer emulators and modern-console retro-collections for the Intellivision have, literally, stunk like a pile of doggy-poo, because it’s impossible to play many of the games without that clunky, ill-designed controller. This made the Flashback VERY interesting to me, as I could often be heard screaming in the streets, “why didn’t they make a controller to go with this? I would pay REAL money for an Intellivision-style controller that plugged into my PlayStation so I can actually PLAY these games! What is the POINT? Who’s in CHARGE, here?”

To find out more about the Intellivision Flashback, I went straight to the source. I figured the At Games website would give me some insight, and I could see if it was worth the price of admission.

Funny thing. They have this nifty thing called an on-line store right on their website, and they were selling pre-orders for forty bucks, so I mindlessly clicked the “pay here with PayPal” button. There. Done deal. They didn’t even charge me tax or postage. They are literally shipping me the thing on the release date for forty bucks flat. How cool is that?

Wait… That can’t be cool – forty bucks? Is this thing made out of bubble-gum? What kind of computer emulates a classic game console for forty bucks retail, twenty or so bucks to the retailer? It took a mere 6.5 seconds to have buyer’s remorse – and I hadn’t even touched the thing, yet. From what I could see in the above picture, they’ve shrunk the original-style console down to the size of a 6-inch subway sandwich (for that matter, there’s probably one chip in the thing, so it could have been a keychain, I suppose). I have absolutely no idea what I’m getting.

Then I really started thinking. My mind reminded me that I failed to use it before pressing the “buy” button, and it wanted to make certain that I felt bad about the whole thing: Isn’t this company based in China? Did I just buy the thing from China? For forty bucks, US?

Holy crap, I’m not getting it ’till February.

But when I DO get it, eventually, whenever, maybe, who knows – I’ll post a little review. By then, no one may care, but a promise is a promise…

Here’s a promotional video for the Intellivision Flashback, created by the current owners of the Intellivision property, the former programmers from the glory days of Mattel, The Blue-Sky Rangers. What do you think?

04/16 UPDATE: Want to see what makes me LIKE my Flashback? Check out THIS post about the Ultimate Intellivision Flashback!

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