For nearly the whole time The Odyssey² Homepage! has been on-line, I've had a paragraph here about an Odyssey² contest tie-in with Kellogg's cereal in the early 1980s. Two grand prize winners were awarded a big-screen Magnavox television and an Odyssey² setup. We know the identity of one of them: Fred B. McGillvray of Newville, PA. The other grand prize winner is unknown, but we do know someone who won a runner-up prize. Classic game collector Geoff Voigt has identified his grandparents, Bob and Maxine Voigt, as winners. Here is some text from an e-mail Geoff sent me:
That would be my Grandparents; Bob and Maxine Voigt. I had completely forgotten that they had been the winners until I read that lil' blurb on your page. The O2 in question has never been taken out of the box and is still sitting dusty in their garage, or it was sent back to Kellog's because it didn't work right; my memory is hazy on this. It had every known game Magnavox made up to that time, including KC Munchkin and the Voice module.
Geoff has promised to search his grandparents' garage and report back on any goodies he uncovers. Thanks Geoff!
If you want to see oddities, look no further than the box the Odyssey² console originally came in. On the top is the famous picture of an Odyssey² console hooked up to a TV, with planes, playing cards, and streams of numbers flying out of the screen. The console looks normal enough, until you notice that the numbers, letters, and characters on each key of the keyboard aren't pictures; they were hand-drawn onto the photo. This by itself is unusual, but what's really strange is the word "SPACER" that's printed on the spacebar. Real Odyssey² spacebars only have "SPACE" printed on them. This picture contains one other anomaly: the cartridge plugged into the unit is not a general release. It has a simple label; the words "GAME CARTRIDGE" are printed atop the Odyssey² logo. A prototype perhaps? This picture reappears on the Odyssey² Owner's Manual and on the cover of some catalogs.
Look at the back of almost any Odyssey² cartridge box, and you'll see a picture of a console hooked up to a TV, with a stack of game boxes to the left. The games look familiar, but there's something wrong with most of the titles. This picture is reprinted on the console box and is slightly bigger, so this is more easily seen. The box in the forefront is identical to the box for Armored Encounter!/Subchase!, but its title reads "Tank Trap!" On the original console box, this title has been blacked out, apparently by black tape. On the side is clearly printed "Tank Trap!" and "Trajectory". Probably this was the original title. Behind this box, you can read a partially obscured title: "Blackjack-Veg[obscured]." "Las Vegas Blackjack!" is how it appears on released boxes. The next box (all you can see is the side) features only the title "Crypto-Logic" by itself – what happened to Speedway! and Spinout!? The next side reads "Basketball" then "Bowling," but the actual release has "Bowling" listed first. The next title is simply "Match-Maker" with no mention of Buzzword! or Logix!. The rightmost box has "Math-A-Magic" but no Echo! Also, none of these side titles have exclamation points like the actual releases.
Across from this, we see a Speedway!/Spinout!/Crypto-Logic! cartridge with an unusual label. Unlike the normal label which has some textual instructions above the label picture, this one has the label picture above the text block, which is much larger than on the actual release.
There's a serious spelling error in catalog EL-3313-1, under the Computer Intro! entry. The misspelling is: "Oddysey²!"
There are TWO versions of K.C. Munchkin!. The most common version's label has its copyright information written in yellow text. On the other version, it's white. In the yellow-text version, one of the ghosts is also yellow. In the white-text version, that ghost is blue.
Is it Nimble Numbers Ned or N.E.D.? NED is not abbreviated in its own box, instruction manuals, or label. However, it is abbreviated in most catalogs. Sid/S.I.D. the Spellbinder is the same way. If they are abbreviated, what do the letters stand for anyway?
The working title of Conquest of the World! was "War Game!" P.T. Barnum's Acrobats! was called simply "Acrobat!" until Philips licensed Barnum's name.
Speaking of Acrobats, this is the only Voice game in which I've heard the Voice screw up. Often, when you miss and your acrobat gets crushed on the floor, the Voice will shout out something positive like "Incredible!" or "Great!" I've never heard it screw up in the opposite way, though – it never says "You blew it!" while your acrobat is soaring safely through the air.
Robert S. Harris, the programmer of Killer Bees! and War Room for the ColecoVision, liked to hide credits in his games. He used his nickname, "RoSHa" (based on his initials), as the name of the bug-zapping laser beam in Killer Bees! – the RoSHa Ray. On page 11 of the game's instruction manual, a screenshot shows RSH as the high scorer's initials. And if you hold down the '?' key while hitting Reset, the top of the screen will read 'BEES BY ROSHA'! This quirk is also present in the '+' version of Killer Bees!. "Rosha" Harris is also credited at the beginning of War Room. (Thanks to Jason Gohlke for much of this information.)
After remembering the 'BEES BY ROSHA' trick, Jason Gohlke decided to try pressing '?' on Turtles! and found another quirk. After he tried it, this is what he found:
Probe 2000, the name under which Odyssey marketed games for other systems, released only one game: War Room for the ColecoVision. However, other titles were announced. For the Atari 2600, they promised Pink Panther (one prototype has been found), Power Lords, War Room, and Lord of the Dungeon. Flashpoint, Lord of the Dungeon (also called Creatures and Caverns), Pink Panther, and Power Lords were announced for the ColecoVision, but never appeared. Prototypes for Lord of the Dungeon and Power Lords have been discovered; click here for details.
An ad for the Odyssey² actually made it into a textbook on mass media. The name of the book is Mediamerica: Form, Content, and Consequence of Mass Communication by Edward Jay Whetmore, and it was published by Wadsworth Publishing Company in 1982 and 1985. On page 356 is an ad for Magnavox televisions, VCRs, video cameras, videodisc players, and of course, the Odyssey²: "PLAY IT. ...with Odyssey 2. The ultimate computer video game. From the originator of them all, Magnavox. Now your TV can be a Las Vegas casino, a big league ball park, even a classroom. The magical world of Odyssey 2 is all that and more. Mind boggling!" Showdown in 2100 A.D. is pictured.