A New Concept
In 1981, in an attempt to regain its diminishing share of the home videogame market, Odyssey released the first of the Master Strategy video games, The Quest for the Rings. In 1982, two more Master Strategy games, Conquest of the World and The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt, were released. All three games featured extended memory, and were packaged with special accesories, including game boards with plastic and metal playing pieces.
Master Strategy games come in special boxes that measure 10" x 7.5" x 2" and open "treasure chest" style. Each box contains a plastic tray that has two molded sections. The first section contains the game cartridge, which has a gold foil label. The second section contains the playing pieces, and has a special plastic lid that fits over the section to hold the pieces securely. Each game has a unique lid complete with a gold-toned circular emblem. Beneath the tray are the game board, the instruction manual, and perhaps other things depending on which game it is.
A fourth Master Strategy game, Sherlock Holmes, was programmed but never released. A single prototype is known to exist. It works, but is unplayable without the instructions, which have not surfaced. More information on Sherlock Holmes, including unreleased concept art, is available in this interview with the game's art designer, Ron Bradford.
Master Strategy boxes originally contained a thin strip of plain, corrugated cardboard that reinforced the front portion of the box. These cardboard strips were meant to be discarded after the package was opened, and so rarely turn up with used Master Strategy sets.
Most plastic and magnetic playing pieces came in single sheets and had to be "punched out" before they could be used. In most used sets the pieces will be "punched out" already, but sets with unpunched sheets still turn up from time to time.
Philips released Conquest of the World and Quest for the Rings in Europe, assigning them Videopac numbers 41 and 42, respectively. In the United Kingdom, the American sets were released with no changes, other than a "FOR USE WITH PHILIPS G7000" sticker (see photo) that was affixed to the cartridge label. On the Continent itself, however, the games were "localized" for certain countries.
The localized cartridge labels for both games are not gold, but done in Philips' typical multilingual style. Localized boxes feature non-English titles, and are predominantly blue instead of the standard black. Unlike the American boxes which have attached lids, the localized European lids can lift completely off. Localized boxes come in several varieties: sometimes they are shiny, like their American counterparts, sometimes they are matte. Sometimes the bottom of the box is black, sometimes it is white. Usually the bottom of box has a Philips logo, but sometimes in France, the logo was left off. Also, the plastic lid that covers the playing pieces is slightly larger than the American version, and has no gold emblem.
Philips also brought The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt to Europe, giving it Videopac number 46. Unlike the other Master Strategy games which have their own multilingual labels and localized boxes, Philips simply imported The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt sets from America as-is, adding a 10-page multi-language booklet to the package. This booket gives each language one whole page of translations for the messages and descriptions in the game. It is the only part of the packaging that actually says "Videopac 46." The German version of the game doesn't even have this booklet, and instead contains an even cheaper, black-and-white manual.
- The game boards (in some sets, at least) were originally packaged with thin sheets of paper placed between their folded quarters. This was apparently done to keep the board sections from sticking together. The paper sheets were also included in Brazilian Master Strategy sets.
Bringing it to Brazil
Philips brought all three Master Strategy sets to Brazil, giving them the full localization treatment. The Quest for the Rings became Em Busca Dos Anéis Perdidos, Conquest of the World became A Conquista do Mundo, and The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt was released as simply Wall Street.
- Em Busca Dos Anéis Perdidos apparently contains only one sheet of thin paper inserted within its game board to prevent sticking. Other Master Strategy games contain more.
Master Strategy sets are of particular interest to Odyssey² collectors, and they don't always turn up with all the pieces! Thanks to online sources like eBay, however, it's now possible to find complete sets at reasonable prices. Still, if you have a set, you'll want to make sure it has all its pieces. Click on a game's box below to view a pictorial listing of its complete set:
for the Rings
The Great Wall
Street Fortune Hunt
Please note: All data in this section is accurate to the best of my knowledge, but is subject to revision if new information comes to light. Photos of set contents are not necessarily to scale. MAJOR thanks goes to Maurice "BuckyB" Simon, Matt Pritchard, and Nico "Sap1" Sapin for contributing valuable information and photos.