Having been an Odyssey² fan since 1978 (when I received my very own Odyssey² for Christmas -- my school grades started to drop from that day forward!), I have been following the recent Odyssey² emulation development since Dan Boris first released O2EM. The Odyssey² sparked my life-long interest in computers when I got my hands on the Computer Intro! cartridge somewhere in the early '80s. That interest has led me into an electronics/computer hardware and later computer software career in which (among many other things) I have even written software for PocketPCs along with writing and selling PC-based video games.
I had just dug out my old Odyssey² console along with its 29 dusty cartridges the other night in order to test it and make sure it still worked before purchasing the new 128-game multicart that was just released last week. My Odyssey² signal to the TV was so poor that I almost put it back into the box to be forgotten forever. I finally resolved to look on the web to see if anyone had done any Odyssey² repairs when I came across The Odyssey² Homepage! and a FAQ about replacing the video cable and switchbox with a newer-style RCA cable (that did the trick!). While on the site I saw the link for both the new 128-game multicart and POCKET ODYSSEY2 -- the new PocketPC emulator available from ClickGamer.com. Pocket Odyssey2!!!! I had to have it! I quickly downloaded and installed the shareware "try" version along with the ROM and Voice sound files.
The unregistered version gave me just a small taste for the emulator and right in the middle of the first game of Pick Axe Pete! I had played in almost 20 years I got the dreaded "your time has expired - please register!" prompt. Damn. But wait... it's only 5 bucks to register; hell, let's do that right now! [Editor's Note: Pocket Odyssey2 now costs $14.95.]
I registered online at ClickGamer.com and was asked to register using a multi-step process that ended with me being e-mailed a registration code. For a moment, I could not get the code to enter correctly, but for some reason it started accepting my entered letters in the "Please Register" screen and all was right with the world.
The games for the most part look just like the good old Odyssey² game screens I know and love. They are easy enough to play with my iPaq control layout.
A Few Rough Spots
For the most part I am pleased with the product and do not regret my purchase, but there are a few issues I haven't been able to work out:
I can get excellent Odyssey² Voice synthesized sound, but the regular standard game sounds are silent. All I get are the Voice simulator sounds. I have the sound enabled and turned all the way up but I get none of the familiar O2 beeps or buzzes. This is not really an issue for me because I usually turn the iPaq sound off anyway. [Editor's note: In the interest of fairness, others have had better luck with Pocket Odyssey2's sound emulation. One Usenetter playing on a Dell Axim described it, rather tongue-in-cheek, as "the best O2 sound emulation I've seen."]
This may not be a bug, but the two player games share the same joystick by default, so you end up controlling both players. At first I thought one was being controlled by the A.I. and I was thinking, "This A.I. is very bad," when I finally noticed that I was actually controlling both players... and boy did I feel stupid.
This isn't a bug but rather an issue with the interface. It took me a while to realize how to bring up the game select menu. The program defaults to the last game you had loaded and you have to close it and launch the menu to select other games. I prefer to return to that menu when I'm done playing a game but this menu has no exit from the program.
In order to exit the program you have to launch a game and exit from there. If you prefer the emulator to launch your favorite game the second you start it then its current design is perfect -- I guess it's all a mater of preference.
If you turn off your PocketPC with the game menu on your screen, you will find it mixed in with your desktop wallpaper when you turn your PocketPC back on. It's easy enough to simply launch a game from the list to get past this, so it's not really a big deal if you can remember where the "Play" button should be. There is a similar issue with the game screens being mixed in with the game selection menu.
I haven't seen any issues with any of the games; they all seem to work fine. The game emulator lets you set many preferences, including the ability to use the O2 or the Videopac+ system BIOS. You also get two upright screen size modes as well as two landscape (right and left) modes. In addition, you can choose between two possible keyboard layouts.
Since this a v1.0 of this product I fully expect to see improvements in the future that will make my decision to purchase this a good one. For around $5 I think that ClickGamer has already done a terrific job. My early Odyssey² love affair started to grow cold back in the middle '80s when I purchased my first C=64. To my great surprise I discovered that the same company that makes this emulator, also makes a POCKET C=64 emulator as well! Life is good!
Try Pocket Odyssey2 Yourself!
A free trial version of Pocket Odyssey2 can be downloaded at ClickGamer's site, or you can buy the full version for $14.95. A list of emulator features can be found on ClickGamer.com. Images used in this article are courtesy that site.