Magnavox Odyssey²

Year: 1978

Price: US $179 (equivalent to $657.28 in 2016)

The Magnavox Odyssey², also known as Philips Odyssey² is a second generation home video game console released in 1978. It was sold in Europe as the Philips Videopac G7000, in Brazilas the Philips Odyssey and in Japan as Odyssey2 (オデッセイ2 odessei2). Odyssey² was one of the major three home consoles prior to the 1983 video game market crash, along with Atari 2600 and IntelliVision.

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In the early 1970s, Magnavox pioneered the home video game industry by successfully bringing the first home console to market, the Odyssey, which was quickly followed by a number of later models, each with a few technological improvements (see Magnavox Odyssey series). In 1978, Magnavox, now a subsidiary of North American Philips, decided to release an all-new successor, Odyssey².

The original Odyssey had a number of removable circuit cards that switched between the built-in games. With the Odyssey², each game could be a completely unique experience, with its own background graphics, foreground graphics, gameplay, scoring, and music. The potential was enormous, as an unlimited number of games could be individually purchased; a game player could purchase a library of video games tailored to his or her own interest. Unlike any other system at that time, the Odyssey² included a full alphanumeric membrane keyboard, which was to be used for educational games, selecting options, or programming (Magnavox released a cartridge called Computer Intro! with the intent of teaching simple computer programming).

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The Odyssey² used the standard joystick design of the 1970s and early 1980s: the original console had a moderately-sized silver controller, held in one hand, with a square housing for its eight-direction stick that was manipulated with the other hand. Later releases had a similar black controller, with an 8-pointed star-shaped housing for its eight-direction joystick. In the upper corner of the joystick was a single ‘Action’ button, silver on the original controllers and red on the black controllers. The games, graphics and packaging were designed by Ron Bradford and Steve Lehner.[6]

One other difference in these controllers is that the earliest releases of the silver joystick were removable. They could be plugged and unplugged from the back of the unit, while all later silver and all black controllers were hardwired into the rear of the unit itself (although the joysticks still can be easily replaced, but not without dismounting the cover deck).

One of the strongest points of the system was its speech synthesis unit, which was released as an add-on for speech, music, and sound effects enhancement. The area that the Odyssey² may be best remembered for was its pioneering fusion of board and video games: The Master Strategy Series. The first game released was Quest for the Rings!, with gameplay somewhat similar to Dungeons & Dragons, and a storyline reminiscent of J. R. R. Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings. Later, two other games were released in this series, Conquest of the World and The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt, each with its own gameboard.

Its graphics and few color choices, compared to its biggest competitors at the time—the Atari 2600, Mattel’s Intellivision and the Bally Astrocade—were its “weakest point”.[7] Of these systems, the Odyssey² was listed by Jeff Rovin as being the third in total of sales, and one of the seven major video game suppliers.

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