Saturday, January 23, 2021

New Homebrew games on Intellivision II

 Welcome to my first blog post for 2021! Today I am looking at a number of home-brew Intellivision games produced from 2014 to 2020. I ordered a lot of them with the purchase last year of an Intellivision II system, and most of them arrived just before Christmas.

This meant I got some time to play them over the Christmas/New Year break. What strikes me is the great deal of effort that has gone into the programming, graphics, sound and above all, the professional packaging of these new games for the Intellivision.

One thing I have learnt very quickly with these new release Intellivision games is that they are quite expensive when compared to similar homebrew games released for the Amiga, Commodore 64 and other platforms. Intellivision games are generally over twice the price of the full boxed cartridge C64 games.

Once you add to the initial game cost the Australian import GST and the current COVID-caused high shipping charges to Australia from US, Canada, etc, one game costs AUD$160 delivered!

In addition to this, no electronic file of the cartridge software is included with the purchase either (which it normally is on the C64, Amiga, etc), which is annoying if you own an LTO cartridge to play Intellivision games from without having to swap cartridges all the time. Unfortunately I haven't been able to get an LTO cartridge as yet in any I had to wait for the games to arrive to play them.

To be honest I am not sure why new Intellivision games cost much more, but I do know a lot of people don't buy them because of this high cost.

This high cost means you need to research a lot more carefully prior to purchasing. There are a lot of Intellivision home-brew games out there, and it is simply too expensive if you live in Australia to buy them all.

I picked up my new release Intellivision games from Intellivision Revolution and Intellivision Collector (that website is currently down). You can also buy games from Good deal games and there are others around too.

The exciting part is that there are so many new release games for the Intellivision in 2020, and it has been genuinely fun to explore these new titles for the first time!

I thought it might be worth showing people what you get when you lay down down serious money to buy them. The initial set of new home-brew games I got was Old School (released 2014) and Gosub (released 2016).

Here are some photos of the Gosub box and internal instructions and overlays, which are very professionally done and look identical to an original Intellivision game release back in the 1980's!

The Gosub instruction manual is excellent, in full colour and explains the game and how to play it very well indeed:

Here is the main title screen of Gosub, running on my Intellivision II - Gosub has two versions, normal Gosub and Super Pro Gosub (each with a different overlay to use):

This navigate your submarine through the maze game is a lot harder than it looks, needing to avoid enemies and walls to get the end of each level:

As the level progress the level itself goes over several screens, adding a layer of complexity to reaching the end of the levels:

I found Gosub quite an enjoyable game, simple to get into but tough to master. 

Next I moved on to try Old School. Here is a look at it's packaging and overlays:

Again, like Gosub, the included instructions with Old School are very professional, in colour and explain the game itself very well:

Here is the Old School title screen on the Intellivision II:

This is screen I quickly got to see a lot of "Yer Done", meaning you died.

You run around the level trying to collect your lunch money and using Chalk brushes (limited supply) to temporarily remove enemies as you race to complete each level. I was not very good at this game, but I can see a lot of effort went into the design. I will try it again soon!

No sooner that I finished playing Old School, 3 more home-brew new releases arrived. These games are Sea Venture (Released 2018), Deep Zone (Released 2018), and IntyBasic Showcase Vol.3 (Released 2020)

Like the previous games I showed, these are also professionally produced Intellivision games, with overlays, instructions and beautiful game boxes. Here is Sea Venture:

I have a lot of time for this game - it is my favourite of all the new games I got for the Intellivision. 

The game is a really addictive shoot em up and save the divers game. And the soundtrack - it is AWESOME. And you have a pick of multiple fantastic tracks you can listen to from the main menu selection screen under Options:

These songs are based on classic 1980's tunes, and beautifully done on the Intellivision.

But the real star is the game itself, the gameplay is simple but addictive. Dive below the surface of the sea and shoot enemies and collect divers. Once the sub is full (or you run low on Oxygen), rise to the surface to empty the sub of divers and resupply oxygen to continue the mission.

Really addictive this game. I played it for hours. :-)

If you can get this game, I recommend it!

Next up is Deep Zone, a Gyruss shoot-em-up clone for the Intellivision.

The instructions are clear enough, and the in-game guide explains the game quite well too:

The game itself is typical gyruss shoot-em-up fare, and although it is fun enough, I found it hard to play as the enemies and bullets were hard to see with the stars swirling and I got killed often. Maybe I just need to try harder and be less rubbish at it!

The surprise package was IntyBasic Showcase Vol.3, games written using the Intellivision Basic included on the Intellivision Computer Module (called IntyBASIC). You don't need the Computer module to play it fortunately:

As you can see above, it comes with three games included on one cartridge, and a set of overlays for each of the three games.

The initial game selection menu is kinda clever, and uses a tv with a control knob to change between the three games on the cartridge:

I will focus on what I believe is the strongest game of the three, called Midspace.

A close up of the overlays for Midspace:

Midspace is quite different to usual shoot em ups I have played, in that the ship you control is always in the centre of the screen, moves left or right along a fixed line, and can turn up or down to shoot enemies above or below it. This adds an interesting dynamic and I found I quite enjoyed it!

There are also special stages were you need to kill these large bosses, which are quite challenging!

Next I received another new game, a port of the classic game Boulder Dash to the Intellivision. This game was not released on the Intellivision in the 1980's, and finally was released in 2014. 

I played this game extensively on the Commodore 64 back in the day, and I was interested to see how it would work on the Intellivision:

The game itself works well on the Intellivision - the graphics are a bit less colourful than the C64 version, but it runs well and just as addictive and frustrating as I remember it in the 1980's!

Boulder Dash was the first "port" game I got for the Intellivision. I wasn't planning to buy a lot of those types of games as I prefer new original concepts rather than copies of old successful games, but that said, I couldn't resist when I found out that Rick Dangerous (one of my favourite Amiga games) had a port released on the Intellivision in 2020 called Rick Dynamite!

Here is the overlays, instructions and cartridge - as with all the other new releases on Intellivision looked at here, very professionally done:

Here is the main title screen of Rick Dynamite running on my Intellivision II.

As with Rick Dangerous, in Rick Dynamite you have the usual levels to work through, with only the first level in South America available initially:

The recreation of the cut scenes and intros is wonderful, as is the faithful recreation of the legendary music from the original Rick Dangerous.

The game itself is limited in colours compared to the Amiga version (naturally), but it plays identically:

Personally I was amazed that such a game is possible on the Intellivision, and that is works so well on it as well.

As the level progresses, you can use more of the limited Ammunition and dynamite to get you through the tricky parts - and trust me, there are plenty of those.

Initially in Rick Dynamite you will die a lot as you slowly work out the pattern to advance each screen, identical to the playing method of the original Rick Dangerous too.

Rick Dynamite is an excellent release for Intellivision. It is clear a lot of work went into making it:

As I was preparing this blog post, three more games arrived, the final set from my batch of orders. This package took 3 months to get to Australia - to be honest I thought they were lost. The games are Minehunter, The Lost Caves of Kroz and DK Arcade:

I haven't had time to play these yet, but I wanted to quickly show them anyway, so you can see just how many new release games are available for the Intellivision in 2020!

Minehunter is basically Minesweeper (remember that game included in Windows back in the Windows 3.1/3.11 days!) - I expect this should work very well on the Intellivision:

The Lost Caves of Kroz looks like an interesting original game also:

The last game is a remake of Donkey Kong - it was released on Intellivision in the 1980's, but it was not a good port. This remake attempts to fix a lot of the issues with the original Intellivision version and bring it closer to the original game experience.

I look forward to trying out these last 3 new games shortly!

As you can see, there is so many new games for the Intellivision in 2020, and it is an exciting system to have now! 

You don't need to wait for Amico to come out for new Intellivision games - they are available right now for your 1980's Intellivision! It is worth supporting these fantastic developers and the quality games they are producing!

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