CONTENT
What you NEED to know about the O2 - by William Cassidy

Table of Contents

History

Technical

Games

Essentials

Collecting

Trivia

About This FAQ

History

What is the history of the Odyssey²?

In 1977, Magnavox conceived of a new console in their "Odyssey" line, which would contain 24 built-in games and support four players at the same time. This non-programmable machine would have been called "Odyssey 2," but it never materialized because the bottom was dropping out of the dedicated games machine market at the time. Instead, Magnavox focused their attention on the development of what they called the "Intel Game" – a programmable, cartridge-based system built around the Intel 8244 custom audio/video IC. The Intel Game eventually became the "Odyssey²" – its superscripted "2" representing the next generation of Odyssey.

Although Magnavox developed Odyssey² because they wanted to copy the success of Atari's programmable Video Computer System, the company's heart just wasn't in it. Magnavox nearly cancelled the project in August, 1977, but Ralph Baer convinced the company that the system could be profitable.31 Magnavox nearly cancelled it again six months later, but Intel programmer Ed Averett convinced the company to let him continue making games. Averett's games kept selling out, keeping the console alive through 1981, despite Magnavox's indifference.32

By 1981, the video game industry was growing explosively and Philips – Magnavox's parent company – began to take notice. Finally, the company began to lend greater support to its machine, bringing in more programmers and developing exciting new products like The Voice of Odyssey². Unfortunately, by that time, Atari and Mattel dominated the industry, making Odyssey² an also-ran console in the United States. By 1983, the entire American video games industry began to collapse. Odyssey² was discontinued in early 1984 and plans for a follow-up "Odyssey3" console were abandoned.

The machine fared better in Europe in Brazil, where it was on the market longer and a larger number of games were produced. An equivalent to the Odyssey3 console – the Philips G7400 – actually materialized in Europe. Still, Odyssey² was a successful console in all its markets, selling over a million units in the United States and a great deal more worldwide. Today, it is still an "underdog" system among classic gamers, but has a loyal – if not overly large – group of supporters.

For a more complete chronology of Odyssey2 history, consult The Odyssey2 Timeline.

Is it true that Odyssey² was more popular in Europe and Brazil than it was in the United States?

"More popular" is hard to quantify, but all the evidence suggests that it was. Certainly the system was marketed longer in those areas and a greater number of games were released there. Europeans were treated to the C7010 Chess Module and the Home Computer Module, which were never even hinted at in the United States. The Videopac "Plus" G7400 was released in Europe, but the Odyssey3 was cancelled in the U.S. Odyssey² was well known in Brazil (where it was called simply "Odyssey") and the Brazilian market even received two games that never came out in the U.S. or Europe (Comando Noturno and Clay Pigeon). The Brazilian game Come-Come (K.C.'s Krazy Chase) is even said to have sparked a national "fever."25

Did Ralph Baer have anything to do with Odyssey²?

Ralph H. Baer, the "father of home video games," designed the world's first home video game system which would eventually be released as the original Magnavox Odyssey console. Baer was not involved with the design of the Odyssey², but he did play an important part in the system's early history. In 1977, while the system was still in development, the Odyssey² project was in imminent danger of being shut down by Magnavox management. In fact, some of the engineering staff in Fort Wayne had already begun looking for new jobs. John Helms, the video game engineering group leader, contacted Baer and asked him to evaluate the product. Baer flew to Fort Wayne in August, 1977, where Helms showed him the machine. Baer decided that Odyssey² could be a commercial success. In a meeting on the morning of August 11, Baer convinced Magnavox management to press on, and Odyssey² was saved.31

During the early days of Odyssey², Magnavox requested the assistance of Baer's employer – Sanders Associates – with the design of Odyssey² games. Sanders developed a programmable pinball game as an experiment in Odyssey² development. Baer did not program this game but had some input on its design; he suggested using Sanders's "Telesketch" technology to allow players to manually position bumpers on the playfield. Although a playable version of Pinball was created, it was more of a demo than a game.31 It was never commercially released, and ended up being the only Odyssey² software programmed by Sanders. The demo cart sat forgotten in Ralph Baer's basement until 2000, when 30 copies of it were released at the Classic Gaming Expo – each one autographed by Baer himself.

Who is this E. Averett person whose name appears on many Odyssey² games' copyright notices?

That would be Ed Averett, a programmer and sales representative at Intel who ended up programming many games for the Odyssey². For the complete story, see the answer to the following question.

Is it true that most of the original Odyssey² games were programmed by the same person?

Believe it or not, yes! Magnavox, a company focused on the gigantic stereo and television set business, was far less enthusiastic about the video game industry, which was comparatively small at the time. After almost cancelling the Odyssey² project in 1977, Magnavox chronically understaffed Odyssey² development projects. In the early days, the only Odyssey² game designer was Sam Overton. Overton developed the earliest Odyssey² games, but was naturally concerned that a single developer was not enough to support an entire platform. Overton reportedly hit a creative "wall" about six months into development.

Magnavox seemed ready to pull the plug on Odyssey² again – a decision that did not sit well with Intel, which made money from the sale of silicon chips for use in Odyssey² products. Ed Averett, a programmer at Intel, convinced Intel and Magnavox that there was a market for Odyssey² video games and that he could design them. From 1978 until about 1981, Averett designed games that would routinely sell out, convincing Magnavox and Philips to keep Odyssey² in production despite themselves. In all, Averett designed 24 Odyssey² games, roughly half of the original library. Sam Overton designed several of the rest. Truly, Odyssey² fans owe a lot to these two men! 28, 31, 32

What/who is RoSHa?

RoSHa is the nickname of Robert S. Harris, the programmer of Killer Bees (notice his initials). Harris titled the bee-zapping "RoSHa Ray" after his nickname. A reference to RoSHa also appears in the ColecoVision game War Room, which Harris designed.

Who are the original Odyssey² programmers?

  • Sam Overton was an Odyssey² hardware engineer, as well as the first Odyssey² game programmer. He designed the first six games for the system in 1977 and 1978. He then left Magnavox, but returned in 1981. Overton's games include Sid the Spellbinder and most of the Odyssey² sports titles.31

  • Ed Averett worked at Intel as a programmer and sales representative. When Magnavox was ready to pull the plug on Odyssey² in 1978, Averett convinced them that there was a market for video games – while convincing Intel that they could sell more silicon if they allowed him to program Odyssey² games. Averett developed 24 Odyssey² games, nearly half of its original library. His favorite Odyssey² game is K.C. Munchkin.32

  • Linda Averett, a computer scientist and Ed's wife, was credited as a designer for Attack of the Timelord in an issue of Odyssey² Adventure magazine. Reportedly, she didn't actually have anything to do with the game but Ed gave her credit anyway – a nice gesture, but one she didn't appreciate. Apparently Linda did not want credit for something she didn't do.32

  • Robert S. "RoSHa" Harris worked with Sam Overton at Milton Bradley, and came to Magnavox shortly after Overton returned in 1981. Harris designed Killer Bees and Nimble Numbers Ned, and began work on Clean Up Yer Act, a game that was never completed. Harris also programmed the ColecoVision game War Room, the only game that Philips released for a non-Odyssey system.28

  • Jim Butler was another Milton Bradley programmer who followed Sam Overton to Magnavox in 1981. He programmed P.T. Barnum's Acrobats and Turtles.28

  • Robert L. Cheezem was a programmer at Magnavox who worked under Sam Overton. He programmed Smithereens and Type & Tell.42

  • Dave Johnson was the programmer at Imagic who ported Demon Attack to the Odyssey².33

  • Jeff Ronnie was the programmer at Imagic who ported Atlantis to the Odyssey².33

  • Don McGuiness, an engineer at Sanders Associates, developed the programmable pinball demo. "Father of Home Video Games" Ralph Baer contributed to the game's design.31

  • Steve Lehner and Ron Bradford were not programmers, but were instrumental in the conception and design of the Master Strategy Series of games. Both were designers at Bradford/Cout Design.2

  • Ed Friedman, a computer professor at the University of Chicago, programmed Sherlock Holmes.2

  • Peter Inser, a Swedish programmer, developed the G7000 version of Frogger and at one point was asked by Philips to teach a course in G7000 programming.29

  • Mick "mic-ro" Rouse, a technical lead at GST Video in the UK, developed several G7000 games, including Backgammon, Super Bee and the unreleased Interpol.39

  • Andy Eltis, another programmer at GST Video, collaborated on Norseman.39

  • Jake Dowding of GST Video collaborated with Andy Eltis to program Norseman. It's also likely that Dowding worked on the unreleased game Martian Threat, which was previously known as "Jake" because the first known prototype was found labeled with that name.39

  • Graham Conduit designed the unreleased G7000 game Shark Hunter for GST Video. Conduit later became part of the GST subsidiary Electric Software, where he helped bring Shark Hunter to the MSX home computer.39

  • Amazon Systems, a UK-based software company, reverse engineered the G7000 and developed a number of games for Parker Brothers – including Q*bert, Popeye, Tutankham, and possibly Star Wars. Programmers at Amazon Systems included Gil Williamson, his son Nicholas (who did graphics design), and Charles Dear.29

Is it true that Atari sued Magnavox/Philips over K.C. Munchkin?

Yes. In late 1981, Atari, Inc. and Midway Mfg. Co. filed suit against North American Philips and Park Television, a Magnavox Home Entertainment Center, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division. The suit alleged that K.C. Munchkin infringed on Pac-Man's copyright, and that the defendants engaged in deceptive trade practices by comparing the two games. The case number was 81-C-6434.

On December 4, 1981, the U.S. District judge found in Philips's favor, stating that K.C. Munchkin was not "substantially similar" to Pac-Man. However, the case was soon appealed, and on March 2, 1982, the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the decision, stating that K.C. Munchkin really was "substantially similar" to Pac-Man. The appellate court issued an injunction prohibiting sale of the game.36 Philips appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high court refused to hear it, allowing the decision of the appellate court to stand.43 As a result, K.C. Munchkin was pulled from store shelves.36 Nevertheless, so many copies of the game were sold before the ruling that it is quite common today.

Atari, Inc. v. North American Philips Consumer Electronics Corp. established an important precedent in video game copyright and intellectual property law, which had been rather ill-defined prior to the court's decision. The court's ruling has often been cited in other video game copyright cases.

Technical

How do I hook up my Odyssey² to a TV set?

To start off, it's best if you have a TV that has a coaxial input (most older TVs do... it's the screw-shaped input jack that cables screw onto). There are two options for connecting your Odyssey² via the coaxial input:

The most common method is to use an RF switchbox. This is a little rectangular box also called a "TV/Game switch," because it has a two-position switch usually labeled "TV" and "Game." Odyssey² units were packaged with these, but they often get lost over the years. Luckily, you can buy replacements at stores that sell home electronic goods. If you're not sure what to ask for, take your console to the store and ask the clerk. He or she will probably know what you're talking about. Caution: do not buy an automatic RF switchbox like those used for newer video game systems. They are not compatible with older systems like the Odyssey².22

Another method is to use a connector called an RCA® Female to F Male or Phono to F-type adapter. This is a small silver or gold (gold may work slightly better) connector that fits directly on the end of the Odyssey² RF cable and allows it to screw onto your TV set. These adapters give you a better picture than a switchbox, but you won't be able to watch TV on your set without swapping cables.22

IMPORTANT NOTE! The early models of Odyssey² units have non-standard RF jacks. These jacks were sometimes used in the 1970s and in Europe. They are usually found on Odyssey² units with detachable joysticks. These kinds of jacks aren't used today; you won't be able to buy a compatible switchbox or adapter at an electronics store if you have such a console. The only solutions are to: A) find a proprietary Odyssey² switchbox (very difficult to do, since most Odyssey² switchboxes are standard ones), or B) Open up the console, pull out the nonstandard cable and replace it with a standard one.22 Replacing the cable is actually quite easy. Ozyr's Video Game Emporium even has detailed instructions to walk you through the procedure.

It is also possible to modify an Odyssey² console to output composite video, which creates a clearer picture. For more details, see the answer to following question.

How can I replace a broken joystick on a non-detachable Odyssey² console?

Contrary to appearances, non-detachable Odyssey² joysticks aren't actually hardwired; it's just that the joystick port is inside the console. Internally, the joysticks connect via a molex-type connector. To replace a joystick, it is necessary to open the console by removing the three hexagonal screws on the console's base. The only tool you'll need is a 1/4" socket wrench to remove the screws. Then it is a simple matter to unplug the broken joystick and replace it with a functioning unit.

Of course, if you have basic electronics skills, you might want to rewire your Odyssey² to accept standard (Atari 2600-compatible) joysticks. For details, see answer to the following question.

Can I use Atari 2600, Commodore 64, or Sega Genesis controllers on my Odyssey²?

Not without modification. However, the modification is actually rather easy if you have some basic knowledge of electronics. Simple instructions and joystick pinouts can be found online here.

How can I replace my Odyssey²'s power supply?

Luckily, you don't need an original Odyssey² power supply to run your console. Most electronics stores sell adjustable power supplies that you can use. Odyssey²'s power supply requirements are: 12v AC 600mA. However, Odyssey² consoles contain an internal bridge rectifier and 5v regulator, which means that it should be safe to use supplies that don't exactly match these specifications. It should be safe to use a power supply that provides anywhere from 9V to about 14V, AC or DC.

Many Odyssey² players use power supplies from other, more common consoles. A standard 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) power supply can be used on most Odyssey² consoles, just not the early models. If your Odyssey² has a round, female power port with a thin metal peg in the middle, it's compatible with an NES supply. If your console's power port is female, but smaller and lacking the metal peg, try an Atari 2600 supply. It should work! 22

Can Odyssey² consoles be modified to output composite video?

Yes, and it's actually not that difficult to do. Jay Tilton of Deathskull Laboratories first published the procedure. The Deathskull web site has unfortunately gone offline since then, but here are its original instructions:

Materials Needed

  • 2 RCA jacks
  • wire

Procedure

Choose a place to mount the jacks. It's tempting to slap them somewhere on the back of the unit, but that would probably interfere with the Voice module. I drilled two holes in the side of the top half of the shell for mine.

There's no point in producing schematics for this one.

  • Audio output = junction of C45 and R49
  • Video output = junction of C44 and R7

One wire from each of the above points to the center post of an RCA jack, outside conductor of the RCA jacks to ground, badaboom badabing, away you go.

This information was pulled from the Internet Archive.23

Are there any Odyssey² emulators?

Yes. The first emulator was O2EM, designed by Dan Boris in 1996 and released in July 19973, 4. It is a freeware, open-source, multi-platform Odyssey² and Videopac G7000 emulator. Videopac "Plus" G7400 support was added in October 2002. O2EM has remained the premier emulator since its introduction, with ports available for Windows, Linux, Macintosh, even the Xbox! The O2EM web site is http://o2em.sourceforge.net.

MESS, the Multi Emulator Super System, contains a functional Odyssey² emulator. MESS support has generally lagged behind O2EM but has gradually been improving. See the MESS web site for more details: http://www.mess.org.

ClickGamer.net published Pocket Odyssey², an Odyssey² emulator for Pocket PCs, in June 2003. Unlike the other emulators, Pocket Odyssey² is a commercial product and requires a license fee. See the Pocket Odyssey² site for purchasing instruction.

Games

What games are available for the Odyssey²?

In all, 49 cartridges were released in the United States during Odyssey²'s initial production run. Some cartridges contained more than one game, so the total number of distinct, original U.S. games is closer to 60. About another two dozen games were released in Europe and Brazil when Odyssey² was still a going concern. In recent years, modern "homebrew" authors have released a handful of original games. The current total number of homebrews is about 8. In addition, a number of previously-unreleased prototypes have been discovered (and in some cases, released in cartridge form). The total number of distinct games available for the Odyssey² numbers about 100. Please note: this number includes some Odyssey² programs that aren't "games" in the traditional sense (such as Keyboard Creations), and is likely to grow as new prototypes are found and new homebrews are created.

To avoid taking up a lot of space in this FAQ with game listings that are subject to change, a list of Odyssey² web sites is provided below. These sites contain the latest information regarding Odyssey² games, rarity, and more:

Why do the graphics in so many Odyssey² games look the same?

A full answer to this question would require an explanation of the Odyssey²'s system architecture, which is beyond the scope of this FAQ. In summary, it has to do with the Odyssey²'s somewhat limited graphics-producing capabilities. In short, it is difficult (although not impossible) for the Odyssey² to produce custom sprite graphics on the fly. However, it contains a set of 64 built-in characters which can be used more freely. Most Odyssey² games – particularly the early titles – utilize the built-in character set, giving the games a similar appearance.

I've always heard that Odyssey² games aren't very good. Is that really true?

This is a matter of opinion, of course. However, the truth is that many game players – even those who are fans of other games from Odyssey²'s era – don't care for Odyssey² games. That doesn't mean that Odyssey² doesn't have its share of fans, but even Odyssey²'s biggest devotees are selective. The problem is that Odyssey²'s game library is not particularly large, and a fairly high number of its games are too simple or too educational to be fun, while some of its worst games are SO bad that they give the entire system a bad name. In general, the best games for the Odyssey² came out later in its lifetime. They include titles such as Pick Axe Pete, K.C. Munchkin, Killer Bees, The Quest for the Rings and Turtles. Some players insist that even these games aren't that good, but Odyssey² fans would disagree. Believe us, the system isn't as bad as its reputation suggests!

Come on... you know that "Alien Invaders—Plus!" really doesn't deserve that "Plus!"

OK, a lot of people like to dump on this game because it's a warmed-over Space Invaders with a pretentious name. Granted, it's not as good as Space Invaders, but so what? One unimpressive game doesn't mean the entire system library is worthless.

What is the Challenger Series?

In 1981, Philips began to release a series of cartridges that had twice the ROM as previous Odyssey² games – 4K instead of 2K. These games featured faster action, deeper gameplay, better-looking graphics, and more challenge than earlier Odyssey² games. Philips called these games the "Challenger Series" and hyped their "Expanded Memory" in Odyssey² advertising.

The first Challenger Series game was UFO, and it was followed by Monkeyshines, Freedom Fighters, and Pick Axe Pete. "Challenger Series with Voice" games include Smithereens, K.C.'s Krazy Chase, P.T. Barnum's Acrobats, Attack of the Timelord, Turtles, and Killer Bees. The final Odyssey² game to be released was the Challenger Series title Power Lords. Most Odyssey² fans consider the Challenger Series to be the best original games the console has to offer – proving that sometimes, marketing copy actually can be trusted!

What exactly are those combination video/board "Master Strategy Series" games?

Introduced in late 1981, the Master Strategy Series games combined traditional board game elements with video-game action. The series was dreamed up by designers Ron Bradford and Steve Lehner, who convinced Magnavox that the keyboard was a unique advantage for Odyssey² and should be fully utilized in its games.1 Master Strategy games featured a wealth of game options and – appropriately – strategic elements. They came packages with game boards, plastic and metal playing pieces, and lengthy, detailed instruction manuals. Bradford designed the sometimes lavish illustrations for the games, while Lehner wrote the manuals.

The first Master Strategy Series game was The Quest for the Rings, which debuted in October 1981. Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, this Odyssey² fantasy adventure told the story of four legendary heroes on a quest to retrieve 10 magical rings of power. It was followed by Conquest of the World, a game of military conquest similar to the board game Risk; and The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt, a stock market simulator. The fourth game in the Master Strategy Series – Sherlock Holmes – was programmed but never released. Concept artwork for the game board and box cover was also completed.2

Were any games released in Europe and Brazil that never came out in the United States?

Quite a few, actually. The following is a list of original (not homebrew) games that were commercially released in Europe or Brazil but had no equivalent in the United States:

  • Europe and Brazil: Air Battle, Catch the Ball/Noughts and Crosses, Chinese Logic, Depth Charge/Marksman, Frogger, Labyrinth Game/Supermind, Loony Balloon, Morse, The Mousing Cat, Neutron Star, Popeye, Q*bert, Secret of the Pharaohs, Super Cobra

  • Europe only: 4 in 1 Row, Backgammon, Blobbers, Musician, Des Chiffres et des Lettres, Exojet+, Syracuse, Le Tresor Englouti+, Chez Maxime, Exojet+, Helicopter Rescue, Moto-Crash+, Nightmare, Norseman, Trans American Rally, Kinder Im Verkehr 1, Verkehrsspiele 2

  • Brazil only: Clay Pigeon, Comando Noturno, and Missão Impossível/Viagem Programada

In addition, a number of prototype games have been discovered in Europe that were not announced for the U.S. market.

Why do some Odyssey² games come in combination French/English packaging?

Games with combination French/English packaging were distributed in Canada, which has a large French-speaking population. Canadian games were imported from other parts of the world, their packaging altered slightly to accommodate French speakers. All Canadian cartridges have the same generic label, which features French and English game titles above two-tone artwork of an Odyssey² setup playing Speedway. The first games released in Canada were simply imported from the United States, packed with a second French manual, and packaged in a cardboard slipcover that contained both French and English writing. Later games were packed into European-style plastic boxes and given a combination French/English insert page to serve as the game's cover. Unaltered European Videopac games occasionally turn up from time to time in Canada as well.

Why are Videopac games usually identified by number instead of title?

The most likely reason for this is that Videopac games were distributed in a number of European countries, each of which has a different national language. To cut costs, most games were printed with titles in a number of languages, so they could be distributed in multiple countries and still be understandable. Assigning Videopacs numbers provided a convenient, language-independent way to identify the games no matter what country they were in.

Are there two different versions of the game "Helicopter Rescue?"

Yes. In the U.S., "Helicopter Rescue!" is a simplistic, single-screen action game that was paired with the game "Out of this World" on a single cartridge. In Europe, "Helicopter Rescue" (Videopac #59+) is a sophisticated flight simulation for the Videopac "Plus" G7400 console. The U.S. version of "Helicopter Rescue" was not released in Europe, or vice versa.

It is possible to speculate why. The three games on the European cartridge "Pairs/Space Rendezvous/Logic" are equivalent to the U.S. games "Matchmaker," "Out of this World" and "Logix." All three games came out in the U.S., but not together on the same cartridge. The third game on the U.S. cartridge, "Buzzword," was not released in Europe, probably because it was a word puzzle containing only English words. The game that was paired with "Out of this World" in the U.S. was "Helicopter Rescue." Since "Out of this World" had already been used on a different cartridge in Europe, "Helicopter Rescue" was left without a partner. Since the game is not deep enough to stand on its own, Philips apparently decided not to release it.

What are the Videopac "traffic" (Kinder im Verkehr) games?

The CSV Video-Traffic Games Edition of the G7000 was given to primary schools in a small region of West Germany. The package consisted of a G7000 and two special games – Verkehrsspiele 1 and Verkehrsspiele 2 – that were used to teach children how to behave on the street. The console set is nothing more than a repackaging of a regular Philips G7000. The package comes with a special "Video-Traffic Games" sticker affixed to the TV screen depicted by the box art. It contains a regular G7000, the two games, and some documentation.

The first volume of the traffic games was also given away to members of the German Commander-ROM club as Videopac "V," and retitled Kinder im Verkehr 1 (Kids in Traffic 1). The manual claims that Videopac V was the first of a series of new learning games aimed at kids 6 to 14 years old. From this, one might surmise that "Kinder im Verkehr 2" was planned for release, but no copies have been found. In all forms, the traffic games are quite rare, with Videopac V being a bit less difficult to find than the Verkehrsspiele games.

I sometimes see listings for a game called "Star Command" or "2076 Star Command." What is it?

There is no Odyssey² game by this title. It is actually the American game Cosmic Conflict. The words "Star Command" appear in the game and are shown prominently on the cartridge label. "2076," which represents a score, has the same characteristic. Some people see these words on the label and assume they are actually the title of the game.

Are there any official arcade ports available for the Odyssey²?

Yes! Turtles is an official port of the Stern/Konami coin-op. While Turtles is the only licensed arcade port to appear in the United States, more were released in Europe and Brazil. Parker Bros. released official ports of Q*bert, Popeye, Super Cobra, and Frogger. Tutankham, which was completed but never released, would have been another official arcade port from Parker Bros. A number of other Odyssey² games were obviously "inspired" by arcade originals, but are not official ports.

Are there any modern "homebrew" games available for the Odyssey²?

Yes! The first Odyssey² homebrew was Amok by John Dondzila, which debuted in 1998. It was eventually followed by Kill the Attacking Aliens (KTAA) which was written by Sören Gust and published by XYPE in 2004. René van den Enden created Pong for Videopac and Odyssey² later that year. The most prodigious producer of Odyssey² homebrews has been Ted Szczypiorski, whose first title, Planet Lander, also debuted in 2004. Ted followed that game with Mr. Roboto in 2006 and Puzzle Piece Panic in 2007. Ted's games were published by Packrat Video Games, which has also published a utility cartridge called Calculator. Route 66 by Rafael Cardosa & René van den Enden saw very limited release in 2008.34 More homebrews are likely to appear in the future!

In addition to original homebrews, there are a few Odyssey² ROM hacks available on the Internet. The first and most famous of these is J.G. Munchkin, a hack of Attack of the Timelord created by a programmer called "VPaC." J.G. Munchkin replaces the Timelord with a red munchkin graphic (allegedly K.C.'s evil twin) and spouts various off-color phrases when played through The Voice module.35 Other hacks include Alien Invaders—Plus with altered graphics, and various PAL games hacked to work in NTSC.

Another type of homebrewed Odyssey² product is reproduction games. These are fan-produced cartridge runs of unreleased prototypes, usually with fan-produced labels and instruction manuals, and sometimes even boxes! The first such reproduction was Interpol, released in limited quantities by Nico Sapin in 2000. Later reproductions include Clay Pigeon+, Pinball, Shark Hunter, Flash Point, Missão Impossível/Viagem Programada, Spider-Man and Tutankham. Future reproductions are sure to appear.

Is there an Odyssey² Multicart?

Yes! John Dondzila, who is perhaps better known in the classic video game community for developing original Vectrex games, released a 56-game Odyssey² Multicart in August 1996.5 Over the years, Dondzila has updated the Multicart with G7400 games, homebrews and newly-discovered prototypes. As of this writing, the current Multicart purports to contain 128 games, although some titles are duplicates (hacks or minor ROM variations). The Multicart uses on-board DIP switches for game selection. It comes packaged in a repurposed plastic videotape case with a paper cover, and a small booklet listing the DIP switch combinations. You can order it online at the Classic Game Creations web site.

Essentials

What is the Odyssey²?

The Magnavox Odyssey² was a home video game console released in the late 1970s and marketed in the United States until early 1984. Magnavox, and later its parent company, the Dutch conglomerate Philips, manufactured and distributed the console. Odyssey² is distinguished by its shiny silver trim and 49-key, alphanumeric membrane keyboard. Its games tend to be somewhat simplistic, even by "classic" standards, although some complex and compelling titles can be found in its game library. Some of the system's audiovisual limitations have given it the reputation of being primitive, which is perhaps not entirely justified. Largely because of its keyboard, a number of educational and "edutainment" games pepper its library. Odyssey² received national distribution and enjoyed a degree of success worldwide, but its popularity usually lagged well behind other consoles such at the Atari 2600 and Mattel Intellivision. However, Odyssey² was more commercially successful than a number of other contemporary consoles, including the GCE Vectrex and Bally Astrocade.

Is there an "Odyssey 1"?

Officially, there was never a console called the "Odyssey 1." However, sometimes the original 1972 Magnavox Odyssey console is referred to by that name in recognition of the fact that it came before the Odyssey². Nevertheless, the original Odyssey is only part of Odyssey²'s lineage. Actually, Odyssey² was the successor to Magnavox's entire "Odyssey" line, which began with the original Odyssey and continued throughout the 1970s with a series of machines such as the Odyssey 100, Odyssey 200 and Odyssey 4000. The Odyssey line consisted of machines with built-in, nonprogrammable "Pong"-type games. Odyssey², which was a programmable cartridge-based console, represented a significant leap forward. This may also explain why Magnavox decided to superscript the "2" in Odyssey²'s name, to represent that it was part of a new generation.

Is there an "Odyssey 3"?

Yes! In the United States, Philips began work on a next-generation games machine that would have been backward-compatible with the Odyssey² in addition to playing its own advanced titles. Official Philips marketing materials call this machine the "Odyssey Command Center," but prototypes of the machine have been found with the name "Odyssey3" as well. Today, collectors generally refer to it as "Odyssey3."

Although the Odyssey Command Center was heavily promoted at the 1983 Consumer Electronics Show, it was never released. Unfortunately, the American home video games industry was experiencing a major downturn at the time it should have come to market. Today, only about 8 prototypes of the machine are in collector hands. A small number of Odyssey3 prototype games are known to exist as well. More information on the Odyssey3 can be found at the Classic Consoles Center.

Why does Odyssey² have a keyboard?

At the time Odyssey² was released, consumer interest in home computers was growing. By and large, people were becoming less interested in dedicated game-playing machines unless they could also be expanded to perform PC-like functions. Magnavox capitalized on this demand by playing up Odyssey²'s similarities to a home computer. To that end, they designed the console with a 49-key computer keyboard, hyped Odyssey²'s "advanced microprocessor," and released a cartridge to teach kids about computer programming (Computer Intro). Of course, none of this really qualified Odyssey² as a PC, but the public was new to computing in 1978. Odyssey² certainly would have seemed like a real computer to some people back then.

What is "Videopac"?

"Videopac" is the name that Odyssey² was marketed under in Europe. The name was dreamed up by Jon Shuttleworth and Dolf van de Paauw, the Philips employees in charge of developing the console in Europe.8 Although different models of Videopac-compatible game machines were available in Europe (the G7000, C52, N60, etc.), the term "Videopac" was used by Philips to refer to the product line as a whole.

What are "Videopac Plus" games?

"Videopac Plus" refers to Philips's advanced game machine, the Philips G7400. This console, which was commercially released only in Europe, represented the next generation of Videopac gaming. Videopac Plus games came in two varieties:

  • Enhanced G7000 games: These games had the same foreground graphics as last-generation Videopacs, with colorful, ColecoVision-quality graphics in the background. If inserted into a G7000 machine, the games were playable, but without the fancy backgrounds. There were no appreciable differences in gameplay. These games were distinguished from regular Videopac releases by the addition of a "+" sign after their original Videopac numbers.

  • Videopac G74000-only games: These games had high-resolution graphics in the foreground and background, and were not compatible with the G7000. G7400-only titles represented the real next generation of Videopac. These games received entirely new Videopac numbers, also followed with a "+" sign.

Videopac "Plus" games were first released in 1983, at about the time that the home video games industry was experiencing a major slump. Consequently, the Videopac "Plus" line ended before very many games were released. The following original "Plus" games were released by Philips:

Enhanced G7000

  • 01+ Race
  • 11+ Cosmic Conflict
  • 20+ Stone Sling
  • 34+ Satellite Attack
  • 39+ Freedom Fighters
  • 43+ Pickaxe Pete
  • 51+ Terrahawks
  • 52+ Killer Bees
  • 53+ Nightmare
  • 54+ Loony Balloon
  • 55+ Neutron Star
  • 58+ Air Battle

G7400-only

  • 56+ Norseman
  • 59+ Helicopter Rescue
  • 60+ Trans American Rally

A prototype of Clay Pigeon with enhanced graphics was discovered in the Netherlands. This game was never commercially released, in any form, in Europe. Documentation found with the prototype revealed that the game was slated to receive Videopac number 56+, which was ultimately given to Norseman. A fan-produced reproduction Clay Pigeon+ cartridge was eventually created for collectors, and given the number 62+.

These "Plus" games were released by Thomson-Brandt in France, for the "Jopac" line:

Enhanced G7000

  • Basket/Bowling+
  • Billard+
  • Catapult+
  • Cosmos+
  • Demon Attack+
  • Exojet+
  • Flipper+
  • Grand Prix+
  • Le Trésor Englouti+
  • Satellit+

G7400-only

  • Moto-Crash+

Homebrew programmers have begun producing their own "Plus" games. Original homebrews with "Plus" graphics include Kill the Attacking Aliens and Calculator. Homebrew authors have also added enhanced backgrounds to G7000 games that did not originally receive the "Plus" treatment. The first newly-enhanced game to be widely released was 2007's Munchkin+, by Martijn Wenting/Revival Studios.24

Is "Videopac Plus" the same as "Odyssey3"?

Essentially, yes. There are some differences in technology (notably the fact that Odyssey3 is NTSC while the Videopac "Plus" G7400 is PAL), but the two systems share a similar (but not identical) architecture and physical design. In fact, fan programmers were able to run the Odyssey3 prototype game Flash Point on G7400 hardware by tweaking the program code, proving that the systems are compatible for the most part. Conventional wisdom holds that the Odyssey3 "became" the G7400 after the O3 project was cancelled in the United States.

Can you play "Videopac Plus" in the United States (in NTSC)?

Yes, but not without some work.

The easiest method is simply to play the games on an emulator. O2EM, the premier Odyssey² emulator, supports Videopac "Plus" G7400 games with the proper BIOS. Please see the O2EM web site for more information.

The more difficult method involves importing a G7400 console; obtaining a monitor capable of displaying a PAL signal; buying a voltage converter to safely run the European machine in an American power outlet; and, if necessary, physically modifying the console to be compatible with your American TV set. These procedures are outside the scope of this FAQ. Please consult the G7400 Import Guide for more information.

What is The Voice of Odyssey²?

The Voice of Odyssey² was a speech and sound effects module released by Philips in 1982, in the United States only. The module contains built-in phonemes – small units of sound that can be strung together to construct vocal phrases – which can be played back via software to make the unit "talk." Vocalizations produced by The Voice's phonemes sound rather robotic, as evidenced by the speech of the title villain in Attack of the Timelord. However, The Voice module also contains a number of phrases sampled from a human announcer. These phrases, such as "Ouch! Help!" in Smithereens and "You blew it!" in P.T. Barnum's Acrobats, sound notably more natural. The module also contains some sampled sound effects, such as the explosions heard in Smithereens.

The Voice of Odyssey² is silver, to match the color of the console's trim. It inserts into the cartridge slot and fits snugly over the top part of the machine. Although it can be removed afterward, doing so was not recommended by the manufacturer; The Voice was meant to become a permanent part of the console after installation. The Voice contained a built-in speaker and volume control; unfortunately, the voices it produced did not come from the TV speaker.

Predictably, Philips marketed The Voice as an educational tool, promising that children would "sit and 'learn' for hours" with talking math and spelling games.7 Whether many kids learned from The Voice is hard to say, but today The Voice is sought after by collectors. Luckily it sold fairly well in its day and units are still in adequate supply.

What games work with The Voice of Odyssey²?

The original Voice games were: Sid the Spellbinder, Nimble Numbers Ned, Type & Tell, Smithereens, K.C.'s Krazy Chase, P.T. Barnum's Acrobats, Attack of the Timelord, Turtles, and Killer Bees. "Homebrew" titles that support The Voice include Mr. Roboto and Pong for Videopac and Odyssey².

Was The Voice module released anywhere besides the United States?

No. The Brazilian company Dynacom announced that it would be distributing The Voice module at the UD '84 electronics expo, but it never happened. No evidence exists to suggest that The Voice was ever planned for European distribution. One might conjecture that this was because the original Voice games were designed to speak only in English. The software would have required modification to be distributable in foreign markets.

What are the Philips G7000, G7200, G7400, and G7401?

G7000, G7200, G7400 and G7401 are the names of the various Videopac-compatible consoles distributed by Philips in Europe. According to Philips engineer Jon Shuttleworth, he and Dolf van de Paauw thought up the names "Videopac" and "G7000" at a San Francisco bar.8

The G7000 is functionally equivalent to the Odyssey². The G7200 contains a built-in black-and-white monitor, essentially making it a portable (but heavy) G7000. The G7400 is also known as the Videopac "Plus" console. It is a next-generation Videopac console that was capable of playing advanced games while retaining backward compatibility with the G7000. The G7401 is a G7400 that contains an SCART (Péritel) port. All console models other than the G7000 are somewhat scarce.

What are the Philips C52 and N60?

The Philips C52 was a variation of the G7000 console distributed in France. Released in 1979, it is physically identical to the G7000 except for its name and identifying marks. All writing on the console is in French instead of English. The N60 is a French version of the Philips G7200. The N60 features a darker blue-gray plastic casing that is somewhat smaller in size than the G7200. Cartridges plug into the right side of this unit, and joysticks attach in the back.

What is the C7010 Chess Module?

The C7010 is a black, rectangular module that "piggybacks" onto a G7000 via a dummy cartridge. When connected, the Chess Module's extra CPU and memory give the G7000 enough computing power to play an acceptable game of chess – something the console cannot do on its own. The Chess Module was released only in Europe. It came packaged with a thick, spiral-bound manual that explains the game of chess in detail.

The Chess Module has had the reputation of being quite rare, but that is not entirely true as quantities of unopened C7010 inventory have been discovered in recent years. However, because the Chess Module was not released outside of Europe, collectors in other parts of the world may find it somewhat difficult to obtain.

What is the C7420 Home Computer Module?

The C7420 Home Computer Module is a piggyback add-on component much like the Chess Module. This rectangular, brown add-on is compatible only with the Videopac "Plus" consoles: the G7400 or the Jopac Jo7400. When connected, it essentially turns its host console into a home computer capable of running Microsoft Z80 BASIC. The C7420 contains a Z80 microprocessor running at 3.574 MHz, and adds 16K RAM and 18K ROM.21 BASIC programs written on the C7420 can be saved to standard cassettes via its built-in cassette port. The C7420 came packaged with a thick, spiral-bound manual.

The C7420 came out late in the Videopac line's lifetime, and only in Europe. Because of this, it is rather difficult to find today.

What is Radiola?

The exact identity of Radiola – a company that distributed Videopac games in France – has been something of a mystery. For a long time, it was assumed that Radiola was its own entity, but it now seems that Radiola was actually a brand owned by Philips. The Philips subsidiary Radiotechnique-Compelec (RTC)10 was apparently responsible for the commercial distribution of the Radiola brand.11 Philips originally established Radiola to market and sell television sets that were of a lower quality – and therefore cheaper – than the typical Philips product. This strategy enabled Philips to reach a different type of consumer without damaging its flagship brand.12

Apparently, Philips followed the same strategy with its video games, and utilized both its Radiola and Schneider brands to distribute games throughout France, and possibly other countries. A number of Radiola-branded consoles and games are available. Radiola's Videopac-compatible consoles were named "Jet" – for example, Radiola's G7000 equivalent is the Jet 25 and its version of G7400 is the Jet 47. Radiola games do not differ appreciably from Philips games except for the word "Radiola" instead of "Philips" on the packaging and cartridge labels. Radiola items tend to be significantly rarer than their Philips counterparts.

What is Schneider?

Much like Radiola, the identity of the Schneider company is difficult to pin down. Like Radiola, Schneider distributed Videopac games and consoles in France. Schneider RT, perhaps better known as a television set manufacturer in the west of France, seems to have been a subsidiary of Philiips.11 Perhaps because of its fame as a TV set brand, Philips marketed Videopac machines under the Schneider banner in parts of France. Schneider's Videopac-compatible machines have names that resemble abbreviations of Phillips names, such as "Schneider 7000" instead of "Philips G7000" or "Schneider 74+" instead of "Philips G7400." The Schneider brand was apparently used to market hardware only; no Schneider-branded games are known to exist. Some, perhaps all, Schneider products were manufactured at a single plant in Le Mans, France.13 They are rather difficult to find today.

What is Siera?

Siera was yet another brand name under which Videopac games and consoles were marketed in Europe. Little is known about Siera except that it was a Belgian radio and television manufacturer. According to Videopac researcher Maurice Simon, Siera was a "daughter" corporation of Philips that also sold Philips radio and television equipment in Belgium. Perhaps because Siera was a recognized Belgian brand, Philips marketed Videopac consoles and games using the Siera name. It is not known if Siera games were limited exclusively to Belgium, but they are quite scarce today, so it seems safe to say they did not receive wide distribution.

Siera marketed its own versions of the G7000 and G7400, which resemble the Philips consoles except for the presence of Siera logos. Siera game boxes also resemble their Philips counterparts other than branding, but Siera cartridge labels are much simpler. The rather cheap-looking labels are black-and-white, and list the Videopac number, a Siera logo and the words "ELECTRONIC COMPUTER GAME."

What is Jopac?

Sometime in late 1983 or early 1984, Philips began to cooperate with Thomson-Brandt, a large French electronics firm, to jointly produce and market video games.9 "Jopac" was the name that Thomson-Brandt used to market its Videopac-compatible systems and games in France. The Jopac line is headlined by the Jo7400 – a console which, while compatible with the Philips Videopac "Plus" G7400, has quite a different physical design. Games in the Jopac line are called "TO.TEK Editions," and consist of several renamed Philips games plus a number of original titles. Games that are unique to the Jopac line include Chez Maxime, Des Chiffres et des Lettres, Exojet +, Le Trésor Englouti +, Moto-Crash +, and Syracuse. In addition, several Jopac games featured "Plus" background graphics not found in any comparable Videopac release. These games include: Basket/Bowling +, Billard +, Demon Attack +, and Flipper +. Western +, an enhanced version of Gunfighter (Showdown in 2100 A.D.) was announced by Jopac but apparently never released. Jopac games were only distributed in France and are consequently not terribly common; many of them are highly sought after today. Des Chriffres et des Lettres is particularly rare.

What is GST Video?

"GST Video" was the name used by a software development company that Philips contracted to program a number of Videopac games late in the console's commercial life. The company's full name was General Systems Technology (GST). Jeff Fenton founded the company in 1979 in Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom. GST developed a number of useful programs such as typesetting software and compilers, including Timeworks Publisher and 1st Word for the Atari ST. GST already had a relationship with Philips before the firm began producing G7000 games. The "GST Video" brand was established to distinguish GST's game design efforts from the "serious" programming work the company was doing for Philips.8 GST later became involved in game design for the MSX home computer; the MSX design firm Electric Software was another subsidiary of GST, one composed chiefly of former G7000 game programmers. Because of this, a number of Electric Software's MSX and Spectrum games were based on ideas that debuted on the G7000.

According to former Electric Software programmer Paul Johnson, the first GST programmer to work on G7000 games was Mick "mi-cro" Rouse, who was contracted by Philips to work at their headquarters in Eindhoven, Netherlands. Rouse, who developed Backgammon, Interpol and Super Bee, would later become the tech lead at Electric Software. Other GST programmers include Graham Conduit (Shark Hunter), Andy Eltis (Norseman), and Jake Dowding (Norseman, Martian Threat).39

GST Video's games are generally considered advanced by G7000 standards, with sophisticated gameplay and graphical elements not normally seen on the machine, such as custom title screens. Because GST games were developed late in the console's lifetime, a fairly large number of the company's titles were not released, and now exist only in prototype form.

GST Technology merged with eGames Europe in 2001 to form Greenstreet Software Limited, a development firm focused on budget-priced puzzle and educational games for PCs.41 Unfortunately, in June 2008, Greenstreet went into liquidation. The company's directors hope to eventually rebuild it.40

What is Probe 2000?

In 1983, North American Philips decided to begin developing games for other, more popular consoles, such as the Atari 2600 and ColecoVision. N.A.P. established the "Probe 2000" brand to market these games. Unfortunately, Philips had bad timing; the bottom was rapidly falling out of the video games market in 1983 and only one Probe 2000 title – War Room for the ColecoVision – ever made it to store shelves. Philips quickly cancelled the other games, which were already complete or nearly so, and discontinued the Probe 2000 brand. Although Probe 2000 did not market Odyssey² games, the Odyssey logo (without the "2") appears on the War Room cartridge label and instruction manual. Perhaps Philips was hoping for some Odyssey brand recognition.

A total of four Probe 2000 games were announced in catalogs: War Room (ColecoVision), Pursuit of the Pink Panther (Atari 2600 and Atari 8-bit computers), Power Lords (Atari 2600 and ColecoVision), and Creatures and Caverns (ColecoVision), which was later renamed Lord of the Dungeon. War Room was actually released, and prototypes of the other three have been discovered.

What is the Philips VG5000 computer and does it have any relation to Odyssey²/Videopac?

Philips introduced the VG5000 home computer in late 1984. It was manufactured and distributed in France by the Philips subsidiary Radiotechnique-Compelec (RTC). The Old-Computers.com Museum describes it as a cheap computer, meant for beginners and for students to do schoolwork. It was not especially successful, and ended production in 1986.15

The VG5000 has a tangential relationship to the Odyssey²/Videopac, because a number of Videopac games were recreated for the home computer. Videopac games with near-equivalents on the VG5000 include Air Battle, Turtles, Munchkin, Super Bee, Space Monster, Terrahawks, Helicopter Rescue, Trans American Rally, Norseman, and Backgammon.16 Screenshots demonstrate that VG5000 graphics appear roughly between G7000- and G7400-level in quality.

Was Odyssey² released in Japan?

Yes! Information regarding the Odyssey² in Japan is sketchy, but it is known that American games were imported into the country and sold sometime in the early 1980s, probably starting in December 1982. Although the games and hardware were manufactured by North American Philips, evidence suggests that Odyssey² was distributed in Japan by Kooton Trading Taitari Enterprises, a division of DINGU company. Indications are that the original price in Japan was 49,800 Yen (that's about USD$205.84, based on the December 1982 exchange rate).26 An American Odyssey² TV commercial, dubbed over by an announcer speaking Japanese, aired on Japanese television.27

Apparently, Kooton Enterprises simply imported Odyssey² items from America and stuck some Japanese-language stickers on the packaging to make the merchandise sellable in Japan. The distinguishing mark of Japanese console packaging is a silver sticker placed diagonally near the upper right corner of the box. This sticker features the word "Odyssey2" written in the Japanese katakana alphabet. Japanese Odyssey² games feature a similar sticker on the side of their boxes, and come with cheaply made Japanese-language insert manuals. Kooton consoles came packed with the ever-popular Speedway/Spin-Out/Crypto-Logic, or, as its name translates from Japanese, Speedway/Runabout/Ango Kaidoku ("code break"). Kooton consoles have been reported with both flat and raised logos. All Japanese Odyssey² items are very rare today.

Collecting

Do people actually collect Odyssey² items?

Absolutely! Odyssey² is not the most popular of the "classic" home video game systems, but it has its share of loyal fans. Odyssey²/Videopac collecting is perhaps more popular in Europe and Brazil, but there are many American collectors as well. Collectors are particularly on the lookout for the rarest Europe-only games, as well as unusual Odyssey² memorabilia.

What are the rarest/most valuable Odyssey² games?

In the United States, the list begins and ends with Power Lords. Power Lords was the last American game released during Odyssey²'s initial run. It received limited distribution, which makes it very difficult to find today. In fact, Power Lords is the ONLY American Odyssey² game to retain significant value.

In Europe and Brazil, however, there is more to choose from. The later release Videopac games, such as the "Plus" titles, are generally hard to find. Blobbers, Trans American Rally, Helicopter Rescue, Air Battle, Backgammon, the two traffic safety games, and Norseman are all particularly scarce. The four Parker Bros. games, while not as rare as some other titles, are still valued by collectors. Many Jopac releases, especially games that weren't released by any publishers other than Jopac, are sought after. In particular, the Jopac game Des Chiffres et des Lettres is incredibly rare and would likely command a high price if an example came to market. Likewise, the two Philips games that only came out in Brazil (Comando Noturno and Clay Pigeon) are quite valuable, as are O Gato e o Rato, O Segredo Do Faraó, Bombardeio Submarino/Tiro ao Alvo, Desafio Chines, O Malabarista/Jogo Da Velha, and Criatividade.

Some homebrew games (notably Interpol and Route 66) were released in very low quantities, which makes them highly valued by collectors.

Of course, original prototypes, especially prototypes of games that were never released, are worth big bucks.

Are Odyssey² consoles with detachable joysticks better than those with hardwired joysticks?

That depends on what you mean by "better." The obvious advantage of the detachable-joystick model is that if your joystick breaks, you won't have to open up the console to replace it. However, even though the joystick ports on the detachable model are shaped the same as standard (Atari 2600 or Commodore) ports, those joysticks are not compatible with Odyssey². That means you'll have to find a detachable Odyssey² joystick to replace yours if it breaks. The detachable models are slightly rarer than the other kind, so they are perhaps more highly valued, but the difference is not significant.

Are there any prototype Odyssey² games?

Yes. Prototypes can be categorized in two ways: prototype versions of games that were eventually released, and prototype versions of games that were never released. Naturally, never-released prototypes are significantly more valuable.

Known prototypes of games that were never commercially released include: Martian Threat (aka "Jake"), Robot City, Plantage/Play Tag, Sherlock Homes, Shark Hunter, Tutankham, Spider-Man, Interpol, and Clay Pigeon +. In Brazil, one copy of the game Missão Impossível/Viagem Programada has been found, but it seems like a limited commercial release, not a prototype. Collectors have been known to "release" cartridge copies of original prototypes, sometimes with authentic-looking labels, manuals, and even boxes! These reproductions are usually produced in limited numbers, as the pool of collectors willing to buy them is rather small.

One other prototype worth mentioning is a pre-production version of K.C. Munckin. The graphics in this prototype version look much more like Pac-Man than those in the released cartridge. This makes the inspiration behind this controversial game all the more obvious.

Are there any known prototypes that have never been released to the collecting community?

There is one: Sherlock Holmes. This game, designed by Ron Bradford and Steve Lehner, and programmed by Ed Friedman, would have been the fourth in the Master Strategy series of games. Programming on Sherlock Holmes seems to have been completed, and concept drawings for the game's box and game board are known to exist, but Odyssey² was discontinued before the game could be released.

One copy of the prototype ended up in the possession of a collector named Jayson Hill, but was all but unplayable with the instructions, which have not surfaced. Ownership of the prototype has changed hands, and the ROM image has been archived, but it has not been generally released to collectors. Efforts are reportedly being made to decipher the gameplay and produce instructions. Once that process is completed, it's possible that a cartridge release will happen!

Are there any rumored Odyssey² games that have not yet been discovered?

Yes, but not many. Most Odyssey² games that were formerly just rumors have since been discovered in prototype form. However, there are still some that have not yet been found. The most famous rumor is probably Pink Panther, which was promoted heavily at the 1983 Consumer Electronics Show but never released. Prototypes of Pink Panther for the Atari 2600 and Atari 8-bit computer have been found, but never an Odyssey² version.

Other rumors include Clean Up Yer Act, which was started by programmer Robert S. Harris but never finished28; Star Wars, which may have been in development by GST Video in Europe29; Moonsweeper and Fathom, which were listed in a German Imagic advertisement; and A Turma da Mônica, which was announced in a Brazilian games magazine.30

How can I tell if my Master Strategy set is complete?

The Quest for the Rings set contains:

  • 1 Quest Token
  • 10 Ring Tokens
  • 3 Nightmare Tokens
  • 3 Dragon Tokens
  • 8 "Possession" Tokens
  • 1 Hourglass Token
  • 7 Dungeon Tokens
  • 4 Inferno Tokens
  • 6 Crystal Caverns Tokens
  • 6 Shifting Halls Tokens
  • 1 Game Board
  • 1 Manual
  • 1 Keyboard Overlay
  • 1 Token Lid
  • 1 Cartridge

The Conquest of the World set contains:

  • 38 Square Yellow Magnets
  • 1 Rectangular Yellow Homeland Marker
  • 38 Square Red Magnets
  • 1 Rectangular Red Homeland Marker
  • 38 Square Blue Magnets
  • 1 Rectangular Blue Homeland Marker
  • 38 Square Green Magnets
  • 1 Rectangular Green Homeland Marker
  • 38 Square White Magnets
  • 1 Rectangular White Homeland Marker
  • 38 Square Black Magnets
  • 1 Rectangular Black Homeland Marker
  • 36 White "100" Power Base Unit Chips
  • 36 Red "500" Power Base Unit Chips
  • 36 Blue "1000" Power Base Unit Chips
  • 1 Manual
  • 1 Game Board
  • 1 Token Lid
  • 1 Cartridge

The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt set contains:

  • 8 Green Margin/Share Token
  • 8 Gold Margin/Share Token
  • 1 Gold and 1 Silver Prime Rate Token
  • 1 Copper Time Frame Token
  • 2 Investment Record Pads
  • 1 Game Board
  • 1 Token Lid
  • 1 Manual
  • 1 Cartridge

A pictorial guide to the Master Strategy Sets can be found here.

What is Odyssey² Adventure magazine?

North American Philips began publishing this quarterly, full-color magazine dedicated to the Odyssey² in Winter 1982. Each 8- to 12-page issue featured high score listings, gameplay tips, previews of upcoming games, Odyssey² news, articles, and sales offers for special Odyssey² merchandise. The magazine's stated goal was to provide a "foundation for a national Odyssey² ADVENTURE club14." To that end, it often implied that its subscribers belonged to some kind of club, calling its readers "Odyssey Adventurers" and playing up the communal aspects of Odyssey² fandom. The magazine's title included the "2" after "Odyssey" for the first few issues, but it was dropped by the first issue of 1983. The subscription price was $3, but some promotions included a free subscription with other Odyssey² purchases. Odyssey² Adventure lasted only seven issues, ceasing publication after the Summer 1983 installment.

Did Europe or Brazil have magazines like Odyssey² Adventure?

In fact, there were several regional Odyssey and Videopac magazines published in various parts of the world:

Odyssey Aventura was published in Brazil starting in 1983. The magazine closely copied the format, logo design and even the name (translated into Portuguese, of course) of Odyssey² Adventure. The Brazilian magazine ran for eight issues. Subscribers to Odyssey Aventura became members of the Odyssey Clube and received a credit card sized membership card.19

G7000 Club News was published in the United Kingdom. Subscribers to the magazine became members of the "G7000 Video Games Club," and were presented with a membership card and metal lapel pin. Early issues of G7000 Club News featured two-tone printing but later installments had full-color covers. The magazine ran for 12 issues, and the Club disbanded on January 1, 1985.18

Club G7000 Videospiele was the name of the Philips Videopac club in Austria. It published a self-titled, two-tone newsletter that ran for 11 issues between September 1982 and December 1984. Subscribers received a membership card that contained spaces for yearly renewal stickers. Membership cost 120 Austrian Schillings.17

Commander-ROM was the Videopac club magazine published in Germany. It was named after its mascot, a sort of robotic-looking Videopac superhero. Subscribers paid a small fee to join the club, which apparently entitled them to a membership card, and were treated to about four issues a year. The 16-page magazine featured two-toned printing with full-color covers. It began publishing in 1982, and ended its print run sometime near the end of 1984.19

Trivia

Why do so many Odyssey² games have exclamation points in their titles?

This is largely because of Bradford/Cout Graphic Design, the firm hired by Magnavox to design logo and packaging programs for the Odyssey². In a design meeting (which Bradford/Cout called an "Exploratory Program"), the designers seized upon the word "EXPLOSIVE!" as a theme for Odyssey² advertising. Following this theme, Bradford/Cout and Magnavox used a lot of exclamation points and explosive-looking visual effects when designing Odyssey² marketing materials – including the game titles.2

What does K.C. stand for?

In K.C. Munchkin's name, the initials apparently don't stand for anything. However, the munchkin was named after Kenneth C. Meinken Jr., who was president of Magnavox at the time. (Unfortunately it's not known what the "C" in his name stands for.) Ed Averett has stated that the character was named this way to encourage upper management to support the program – a decision that proved unfortunate since the game incurred so many legal troubles.32 (Note: in the interview where Averett first revealed this information, K.C.'s namesake is misspelled "Mencken." The "Mencken" spelling has since propagated throughout the Internet, but it's incorrect. "Meinken" is the correct spelling.)44, 45

Why do Odyssey² games have handles?

Only Magnavox knows the real answer to this question, but handles do make it easier to remove the cartridges from the console. Apparently Magnavox considered cartridge handles a selling point. It's also possible that Magnavox wanted a distinct cartridge design for marketing and/or copyright purposes.

Who are the Power Lords?

Power Lords: The Extra-Terrestrial Warriors were action figures, released by Revell Toys in 1983. They were quite obviously designed to capitalize on the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe line from Mattel, which was phenomenally popular at the time. Revell heavily promoted the toy line when it was released, teaming with DC Comics for a three-issue Power Lords mini-series, releasing Power Lords puzzles and board games, and – most relevant for this FAQ – convincing Philips to release a Power Lords Odyssey² game. Unfortunately, it was slated to come out at the same time Philips discontinued the Odyssey². The game was released, but only barely – and is extremely rare today. As it turns out, the toy line wasn't very successful either. Today, the extremely obscure video game for the relatively obscure Odyssey² system is probably better known than the action figures that inspired it!

Who are the Terrahawks?

Gerry Anderson's Terrahawks are puppets – stars of the UK science-fiction television series of the same name. In the 1983-1986 "Supermacromation" series, the Terrahawks are an elite group of space pilots who protect Earth from the invasion of evil aliens led by a villain named Zelda.6 In its day, the series was virtually unknown in the United States but popular enough in Europe. Philips repackaged the American game Attack of the Timelord as a licensed tie-in with the Terrahawks series, casting the player as a member of the Terrahawk organization, and the Timelord as Zelda. No other gameplay elements were changed, although a Videopac "Plus" G7400 of the game was also produced, with a detailed view of the Earth in the background.

Who was the Wizard of Odyssey?

The Wizard of Odyssey was a character created by Philips to promote Odyssey² in the United States and Brazil. In the 4th quarter of 1982, the Wizard began appearing on television commercials, in print ads, and in the pages of Odyssey² Adventure magazine, hawking Odyssey² games from his magical crystalline lair. The Wizard dressed in black robes and sported a lighted red circle on his chest. In Odyssey² Adventure comics, his lair is shown to be populated with gnomelike helpers, but these characters never appeared on television. Unfortunately it not known who portrayed the Wizard, but he was an older gentleman with dark gray hair, extremely bushy eyebrows and a somewhat blustery voice. The character is presented as being well-spoken but smug, quite obsessed with Odyssey², and strangely not very magical. The Wizard featured prominently in "The Wizard's Great Game Giveaway," a promotion run at the end of 1982 to drum up interest in Odyssey² by offering free and reduced-price games to buyers. It's not known how successful the Wizard was as an advertising mascot, but his campaign didn't really last that long, and today he's generally considered silly at best.

What is "Sync-Sound Action?"

It's a mystical state of union between the eyes and ears, when the self melts away and is replaced by an explosion of sensation and inner peace... OK, it's really just a marketing gimmick cooked up by Odyssey² marketers. While nobody is 100% certain what the term means, it seems to indicate that when something happens on-screen in an Odyssey² video game, an appropriate accompanying sound is heard. Impressive, isn't it?

About This FAQ

Who wrote this FAQ?

This FAQ was written by William Cassidy, the creator of The Odyssey² Homepage!. William has maintained the web site since late 1996, and in that time has developed quite a reputation as "that weird guy who likes the Odyssey²." Of course, William couldn't have written this FAQ without contributions from a number of others. Please see the section about FAQ sources below.

Where can I find the latest version of this FAQ?

The latest version of this FAQ can be found on The Odyssey² Homepage!. Both an HTML version and a Plain Text version are available.

What is the revision history of this FAQ?

  • November 2008: first publication.
  • December 2008: revised to include K.C. Munchkin's true namesake, correction to G7400 games list.
  • January 2008: corrected VG5000 release information, correction to G7400 games list.

Are there any other Odyssey² FAQs?

Yes, although most other Odyssey² FAQs are structured less like lists of "frequently asked questions" and more like lists of games with accompanying information. Also, some of the other FAQs have become dated over time. Hence, the FAQ you are reading now. The purpose of this FAQ is present information that is unlikely to change – and therefore unlikely to become dated – in a traditional question-and-answer format.

This is not to say that the other FAQs are not worth checking out. Just remember: those that haven't been updated for a while may contain out-of-date information.

What are the sources for this FAQ?

  1. "Electronic Game Wizards" by Herbert J. McCann, November 26, 1981
  2. The Odyssey² Homepage! - "Interview with Odyssey2 Artist Ron Bradford" by William Cassidy
  3. Atari Gaming Headquarters - "News Briefs (1997 Archive)", 7/15/97 Entry
  4. DanB's Odyssey² Tech Page by Dan Boris
  5. Google Groups Usenet Archive of rec.games.video.classic post: "Odyssey 2 : The Multicart" by John "pcjohn" Dondzila
  6. Wikipedia entry: "Terrahawks"
  7. The Voice of Odyssey² Sales Brochure, page 3
  8. ClassicGaming.com - "Interview: Jon Shuttleworth" by William Cassidy, March 8, 2001
  9. The Odyssey² Homepage! - "The Atari/Philips Connection" by William Cassidy, January 2, 2003
  10. The New York Times, "Philips N.V. Unit Plans a 25% Layoff," January 21, 1981
  11. Silicium.org Forums - December 23, 2004 post by Carl Hervier quoting Revue de l'Actualité Juridique Française
  12. Strategic Brand Management: Creating and Sustaining Brand Equity Long Term by Jean-Noël Kapferer, Kogen Page Publishers, 1997
  13. Old-Computers.com Museum - Radiola VG 5000 Entry
  14. Odyssey² Adventure, Winter 1981, Page 1
  15. Old-Computers.com Museum - Philips VG5000 Entry
  16. La page des fans du VG5000μ - "Videopac vs VG5000"
  17. Classic Consoles Center - "Club G7000 Videospiele" by Dieter König
  18. Videopac.com - Magazines Page
  19. The Odyssey² Homepage! - "Collectibles - Magazines" by William Cassidy
  20. The Odyssey² Homepage! - "Collectibles - European Consoles" by William Cassidy
  21. The Virtual Videopac / Odyssey2, Odyssey3 Museum - "C7420 Home Computer Module" by Hans Reutter
  22. The Odyssey² Homepage! - "Common Questions" by William Cassidy
  23. Deathskull Laboratories [Internet Archive] - "Magnavox Odyssey² Composite & Audio Output Modification" by Jay Tilton, June 28, 1998
  24. Revival Studios - Munchkin+
  25. Brazilian Odyssey² FAQ by Marcelo Ribeiro
  26. The Odyssey² Homepage! - "Collectibles - Other Consoles" by William Cassidy
  27. YouTube - 1982 Magnavox Odyssey 2 Japanese Ad - Posted by danwashitsutakizawa
  28. Classic Consoles Center - "Robert S. Harris and the Secret of the Killer Bees" by Dieter König
  29. Odyssey Mania - "Interview with Gil Williamson" by Maurice Simon
  30. Odyssey Mania - "Arqueologia" by Marcelo Ribeiro
  31. "Video Games: In the Beginning" by Ralph H. Baer. Rolenta Press, April 2005
  32. Halcyon Days - "Ed Averett" by James Hague, March 1997
  33. Digital Press - Online Rarity Guide - Edited by Joe Santulli et al
  34. Videopac.com - Route 66
  35. The Odyssey² Homepage! - J.G. Munchkin! by "Vpac"
  36. Atari, Inc. v. North American Philips Consumer Electronics Corp., 672 F.2d 607 (7th Cir. 1982)
  37. Ozyr's Classic Video Game Emporium
  38. Videopac.nl Forums
  39. MSX Resource Center Foundation - "A blast from the MSX past" by Paul Johnson, April 24, 2008
  40. GamesIndustry.biz - "Greenstreet Software Goes into Liquidation" by Matt Martin, June 6, 2008
  41. Greenstreet Online - Art & Craft Studio - About Greenstreet
  42. Digital Press - "DP Interviews... Robert Cheezem" by Dave Giarusso
  43. North American Philips Consumer Electronics Corp. et al. v. Atari, Inc., et al., 81-2237 (U.S. Supreme Court 1982)
  44. PR Newswire Association, Inc. Ft. Wayne, IN: April 10, 1980.
  45. Arenson, Karen W. "G.T.E. Sets Electronic Units Sale." The New York Times: Oct. 3, 1980. Section D, Page 1.
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