For several companies Mattel made the Intellivision under a few other
names and sometimes with a slightly different design:
Super Video Arcade for Sears stores
One for Radio Shack
Intellivision for GTE phone stores
Intellivision II and III
Mattel also made an Intellivision II. This console was smaller and lighter, but could do the
same as number one, like Mattel - of course - stressed in its advertising
campaign. Advantages for Mattel were the lower manufacturing costs and the
fact that the Intellivision II was easier to repair. Unlike those of the
first Intellivision, the controllers of the II could be detached from the
Another difference was a
trick in the Intellivision II, which blocked games developed by other
companies. It was that effective that it even blocked on specific game of
Mattel itself. But the competitors soon found ways to by-pass this
In 1983 Mattel even
promised to come with an Intellivision III, with a built-in speech module,
more colours, a higher resolution and more technical tour de forces, but
it never made it to the shops. It even seems that Mattel very secretly
worked on an Intellivision IV, which should have been a totally different
Welcome to the nostalgic
history of home and game computers
MATTEL INTELLIVISION - DANGER AHEAD FOR
With the arrival of the Mattel Intellivision in 1980 a time before online degrees and fancy touch screen phones, the monopoly of Atari in the world of game consoles came to an end. The Mattel Intellivision was the first real competitor for the Atari VCS
2600. Within three years, Mattel succeeded to sell three million Intellivision consoles.
The toy manufacturer stayed far away from the
record numbers of Atari, but yet it succeeded to acquire a substantial
to put on the controller
for the game Armor Battle
|Hard advertising campaign
Mattel Electronics, the new division of Mattel, started an advertising
campaign that was unprecedented in the world of game consoles. The
company began a firm offensive on Atari, stressing the technical
superiority of the Intellivision compared to the VCS 2600 from Atari. And
indeed, the Intellivision was superior: with its 16 bits processor the
console was ahead of its time.
The graphical performances were also better then those of the VCS 2600.
Besides, the console had advanced controllers: the joystick (a little
wheel) made it possible to move objects in sixteen directions. The freedom
of movement of the Atari player was restricted to eight directions.
Large assortment of games
When Mattel started to sell the Intellivision (in 1980 in the U.S. and
in Europe about two years later), the consumer could already choose from a
large assortment of games. The Intellivision distinguished itself by the
large amount of sport games, for which Mattel had obtained licences from
many American sport associations. With those games Mattel appealed to a
fresh segment of gamers.
A disadvantage of the Intellivision games was that many were for two
Blue Sky Rangers
To keep the costs down, at least as long it was not clear if the Intellivision would catch on, Mattel Electronics first cheaply contracted
out the development of games. Then the company contracted computer students, who wrote the games as part of their study.
When the Intellivision started to catch on, Mattel created a close-knit
team of programmers known as the Blue Sky Rangers. Nowadays the Rangers
are again active: in 1997 they took over the rights on the Intellivision
and since then they redesign the classic game titles for the current
generation of game consoles and for use of cell phones.
Mattel may have indulged the Intellivision users with a large
assortment of games (some 125 were made), in another respect the company
seriously mislead the consumer. When the Intellivision was launched,
Mattel promised it would quickly make a module with which it would be
possible to transform the console in a fully-fledged home computer. The
slogans in the advertising campaign left no doubt: 'Play games and balance
your check book!'. For many consumers it was an extra reason to buy the Intellivision.
Washington puts pressure on Mattel
But the module didn't appear in the shops. Mattel spread some 4,000 among
consumers for testing, but the company recoiled because of the high costs
and the non-enthusiastic reception by the users. Only in 1983 Mattel came
with an alternative, under pressure of the government instances that had
received many complaints from disappointed Intellivision owners. The
alternative was a stripped version of the originally developed keyboard,
far away from the promises Mattel had made.
In the same year in which Mattel finally came with this cursed
keyboard, the company stopped manufacturing the Intellivision. De first
signs of the crash on the console market were in the air. Besides,
Mattel's advertising campaign, stressing Intellivision's technical
superiority, came back as a boomerang in 1982. Then Coleco launched the
famous Colecovision, which on its turned performed better then the Intellivision.
Intellivision still exists
But the Intellivision still exists. When Mattel stopped its adventure,
vice-VP marketing Valeski bought the rights and developed new games with
his company INTV. In 1985 it came with a new version of the Intellivision:
the INTV System III. It was almost the same as the original Intellivision,
except that it had a black instead of a wooden-like case. Manufacturing
continued until 1991.
Six years later the Blue Sky
Rangers Keith Robinson en Stephen Roney took over the rights from Valeski
and founded Intellivision Productions. Like I told before, the company
still (re-)develops games.
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