Ok, this was one of my better decisions in 2016… sometimes seems there were so few good ones… 🙂
The magic of classic video games seems to be in their simplicity and timeless fun for kids of all ages. As I have mentioned in the Colecovision article, I grew up with an Intellivision system where my younger brother and I would spend hours destroying each other in a wide variety of games, mostly involving weaponry.
I was one of the things the brought my brother and I together, partly over our common love of this new technology in the 80s, but also something he and I were both immensely better at than our parents… namely my dad, who we digitally punished in games like Sea Battle where his Navy background was of no help to him … we sank his fleet every time in a matter of minutes… funny for us… apparently not for him. Sorry Dad. 🙂
So when I found online the Flashback systems for Atari, Intellivision and Colecovision I jumped at them.
For Christmas this year I bought one for my family (my younger two living at home still are online gaming gods (in their minds) and I thought this would level the field between them and I as now I have become the Dad that has no idea how to mash all the buttons in crazy sequences to destroy foes and fly ships… Karma can be a bitch sometimes… but now I had a plan.
I also bought one for my brothers family out in Seattle as I knew he would enjoy the nostalgia and maybe even give us a chance to trash talk our scores again. Unlike me though, he was still an avid gamer with things like WoW, though he admits that his kids are also better than him…
Now back in the early 1980s, the original Intellivision system was surprisingly large, with hard-wired controllers. The flashback system is MUCH smaller, though it has the same look and feel as the original, even the cheesy wood panelling on the side.
The original controllers were painful to use, with strange floating discs for navigating characters and thankfully the flashback ones are nearly identical! When you want retro, you want RETRO and these controllers are seriously retro. Many of t
he games required the use of the side buttons to shoot or jump which could be very awkward, but then again, that was one of the things I remembered the most about that machine.
Watch the Funny “Game Grumps” play Shark! Shark!
The number pad and discs on the flashback have been compared many times on other sites and I concur that they are nearly identical in nearly every way to the originals. This was a big surprise because they were one of the most unique pieces of the system and to recreate them was very important to the “feel” of the system.
They nailed it.
The discs move smooth, the side buttons are awkward (as they were originally) and the strange number pad bubble numbers were the same feel. Even the plastic overlays for the games looked the same. Great job by the team that pulled this together.
While only a subset of the game overlays are included, the manual includes the full set pictures and there are many sites online where you can get all the overlays, as well as the instructions for each game.
The system, while very small compared to the original, is even smaller if you consider most of the case is empty, primarily a board the size of a raspberry pi board powering the whole thing off a simple power supply.
Setting up the System
Setting up this system was very easy… but at the same time, one big gotcha that I bumped into and have heard of others hitting the same thing. A few simple plugs of power, composite video and mono audio into my living room Vizio 4K TV was deceptively easy, because the moment I turned the system on and put it on analog channel 3 I got either nothing, or a brief image of the system for a second.
Now, because I recently hit the same problem when using my original Colecovision on this same TV, I knew what the issue was. My new TV was trying to be to smart and adjust the signal and couldn’t sync it before it gave up. If this had been the first classic system I had plugged into my new TV I would have assumed the system was defective with only a black screen showing.
Taking the system upstairs to my older HD TV proved I was right, worked great. After playing a few games with my son on this older TV I decided I needed to do something to allow these older systems to work on my newer TV downstairs.
Intellivision goes HDMI
A quick google search gave me a few options on a composite to HDMI converter, I ended up choosing one from my local Radio Shack (instant gratification) but there were many other great options online to choose from.
A simple little powered box that takes in the composite RCA jacks for video and audio, outputs a great HDMI signal and allows us to now play all the great Intellivision games in the flashback system on our family TV in the living room. Awesome.
The games are loads of fun, especially if you grew up on the Atari 2600, Intellivision or Colecovision from the 70s and 80s. The games are sometimes overly simple, but many are surprisingly complicated and require even more hand-eye coordination that found on kids and millennials these days. The Intellivision disc controllers are part of the challenge with some games having so many live options that are controlled by the number pad and assorted buttons. The list of games that come with the Intellivision Flashback includes:
Games like Sea Battle as well as Volley Ball (especially 6 man version) are extremely important to understand the number pad buttons and plan your moves, shots, and tricks at just the right time.
My youngest teenage son, who is a avid gamer and software developer was extremely impressed at the level of controls, options and variations in games the appear so simple on the surface. This was one of the unique parts of the intellivision over the Atari 2600 in its time, besides some improvements in the sound and graphics over its competition, the Intellivision was known for the sports games and interactive experience the gamer had with the system. Sometimes too many options and controls.
Watch the Game Grumps play classic Intellivision Sea Battle!
Included Intellivision Flashback Games
|Body Slam: Super Pro Wrestling||Sports||Yes|
|Chip Shot: Super Pro Golf||Sports|
|Crown of Kings||Battle||Yes|
|Deep Pockets: Super Pro Pool & Billiards||Sports|
|Football, Super Pro||Sports|
|Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack||Gaming|
|Las Vegas Roulette||Gaming|
|Learning Fun II||Education|
|Slam Dunk: Super Pro Basketball||Sports||Yes|
|Slap Shot: Super Pro Hockey||Sports|
|Spiker: Super Pro Volleyball||Sports||Yes|
|Stadium Mud Buggies||Sports|
|Super Pro Decathlon (Decathlon)||Sports|
|Tower of Doom||Battle||Yes|
|World Championship Baseball||Sports|
The system overall has been fantastic and at the price, it is an unbelievable deal. For about $50 you can have hours of entertainment any day of the week. Just remember that you need to prepare your fingers for some unusual contortions and your brain and imagination for some old-school action.
There are other flashback systems including the Atari 2600 as well as the Colecovision. I purchased the Flashback Colecovision as a gift for my oldest son in the Navy who had dominated my high scores on our original Colecovision. While it had some of the great classics on it like Zaxxon, it was missing a few games we enjoyed on our original system such as Defender. But all in all it was a decent representation of the Colecovision, again for a very reasonable cost.
You can find that system online as well for good prices and availability.