Odyssey FAQ

** The Ultimate Odyssey^2 and Odyssey^3 FAQ **
** **
** by Robert D. Kaiser **
** kaiser@physiology.pnb.sunysb.edu **
** kaiser@biosys.net **
** **
** Version 5/12/99 **
** **
** Odyssey2 Philips G7000 and G7200 **
** **
** Odyssey3 Command Center Philips Videopac + G7400 **

* In the Beginning *

Our story begins back in 1966 with Ralph Baer, a manager in
Sanders Associates, a military electronics company which had a home
consumer division. Baer came up with the idea of using electronics
to create a videogame that could be played on home television sets.
The management at Sanders approved of this project, and so with two
other engineers he began work on his dream. By late 1967 a prototype
home videogame had been created. With the prototype completed, he
set about marketing his game to companies like Zenith, RCA and General
Electric, with the hopes of having it mass produced.

A few years later he finally managed to market the game to
Magnavox electronics, which began production of the Odyssey [aka
the Odyssey 1] in January 1972. Once released, it sold over 100,000
units that year, at about $100 per system. Compared to later 8-bit
videogames, the Oydssey 1 was quite primitive. The system could
only display black and white blocks, moving dots and plain straight
lines. It was unable to keep score or have any background graphics,
nor did it have sound effects. Still, engineers at other companies –
especially Atari – were impressed with the commercial possibilities
of the Odyssey. Others began work at adapting the primitive arcade
videogames of the day, such as “Pong”, into something that could
also be sold as a home videogame. By 1974, Atari released a home
version of Pong.

In 1974, Magnavox merged with Philips Electronics, the high
tech company responsible for such innovations as the compact disc.
Together, these two companies became Philips Consumer Electronics.
Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, their homepage can be
accessed at: http://www.philipsmagnavox.com/index.html

Not to be outdone by Atari, in 1975 Maganavox/Philips then
released an improved version of their videogame, the Odyssey 100.
This was soon followed by a few later models, each with a few small
improvements and game variaitions. Those interested in the original
Odyssey units can learn more about it in Shaun ‘Loomis’ Gegan’s
Odyssey 1 FAQ, at http://www.digitpress.com/faqodyssey1.txt

In 1976 Fairchild Electronics came up with the idea of
using ROM (read-only memory) cartridges for their own “Channel-F”
videogame system. With this innovation, each videogame could be

completely unique; however their game system was too primitive and
never caught on. The big news, however was just ahead: By December
1977 Atari released the programmable Video Computer System, the
Atari VCS (which was later renamed the Atari 2600.) Readers of this
essay are undoubtably familiar with this system; more description
would be superfluous. RCA also released their own home video game
system this same year, the “Studio II”. For some reason they decided
to release a machine that was only capable of producing black and
white images, which did not go over well with the consumers in home
electronics marketplace.

Near the same time, in early 1977, Maganox had developed a
non-programmable game console that they called the Odyssey 2. It
would not have the ability to add new games through cartridges, but
instead would have 24 built in games, and allow up to four people
to play simultaneously. Soon afterward, however, the videogame
marketr became crowded with a number of other enteries all of which
had to compete not only with each other, but also with the large
number of inexpensive hand held electronic games. The resulting
market difficulties convinced Magnavox not to market this
incarnation of the 24-game Odyssey 2. To date, I am not aware of
any classic videogame collectors who own a prototype of this unit.

In 1978 Magnavox released a new videogame system for the home
market: The Odyssey^2. This new unit bore no relation to the
scapped 24-game system. Instead, it was a fully programable home
video game systerm that was designed to use 2K ROM game cartridges.
Like the Atari VCS, the CPU of the O^2 was powerful enough such
that each game could be a completely unique experience, with its
own background graphics, foreground graphics, gameplay, scoring
and music. The potential was enormous, as an unlimited number of
games could be individually purchased. Like the Atari 2600, the
Odyssey^2 allowed any game player to purchase a library of videogames
tailored to his or her own interest.

Unlike any other system at that time, the Odyssey^2 also
included a full alpha-numeric touchpad keyboard, which was to be
used for educational games, selecting game options or programming.
This was a major selling point of the system.

For hand held controllers, the Odyssey^2 utilized the classic
joystick design of the 1970s and 80s: A moderately sized, self
centering eight way joystick. It was held in the left hand, and
manipulated with the right hand. In the upper corner of the
joystick was a single ‘Action’ button. A credit to the designers at
Maganavox, three or four years later, with Atari, Intellivision,
and a number of third party companies producing hardware, many
people still felt that the Odyssey^2 joystick was one of the best

By 1981, Atari and Intellivison sales had grown in leaps and
bounds beyond the O^2. Nevertheless, unlike some unnamed videogame
companies, (hint: their name rhymes with Vega) Philips kept on
supporting the O^2. Their programmers’s slow but steady improvements
in gameplay and graphics made sure that O^2 owners could always
count on more and better games being made available. Even without
massive third party support, by 1983 over a million O^2 units were
sold in North America alone.

It is less well known that the Odyssey^2 was even more popular

in Europe, where it was marketed by Magnavox’s parent company, Philips
Electronics. In Europe (and in other parts of the world as well)
the O^2 was sold as the Philips G7000 Videopac console. In France,
it was known as the Philips C52. In Brazil it was known as the
Odyssey, as the original Odyssey was never released in Brazil.

* The American Odyssey^2 videogame programmers *

(i) Steve Lehner

(ii) Sam Overton, who also was an engineer on the O^2 hardware.
He wrote S.I.D. the Spellbinder and many of the early O^2 games.

(iii) Ed Averett. He left Intel to program Odyssey^2 games under
contract. Magnavox didn’t have the big bucks to hire him, so they
gave him royalties instead. He made 24 games, and retired very rich.

The Winter 1982 issue of the Odyssey^2 Adventure Club magazine
stated that Philips/Magnavox had four in house videogame programmers,
and in addition to listing the above three, also listed Linda Averett,
wife of Ed Averett. Matthew Pritchard notes: “She didn’t actually
program anything for the O^2, but is a heck of a computer scientist
in her own right. Ed included her in the credits so she wouldn’t
feel left out. Mistake on his part as he quickly found out and she
was quite ired at being credited for something she didn’t do.”

That issue of the Odyssey^2 magazine did not mention the later
viodegame programers:

(iv) Bob Harris. Programmed Killer Bees, Nimble Numbers N.E.D.,
“War Room” on the Probe 2000 label for Colecovision, and also
worked on the never released Colecovision version of “Power Lords”.

(V) Rex Battenberg – Programmed “Flashpoint”, a never released game
for the Odyssey^3 Command Center, and “Lord of the Dungeons”,the
never released Probe 2000 game for Colecovision.

* The Odyssey^2 games *

At the time of their release, the original games available for
the Odyssey^2 were nothing short of remarkable. Its hard to estimate
how many gamers with a love for racing spent their weekend with
“Speedway!/Spin-Out!/Crypto-Logic!”. The roar of the motors, and
high speed chases and tight turns! The explosive crashes! Yes sir,
those were hours well spent. Beyond racing, friends could spend all
night working against world peace by destroying each other’s tanks,
planes and subs with “Sub Chase!/Armored Encounter!”. And with
“Bowling/Basketball!” all the O^2 owners could…well, get bored.
That one sucked.

An innovation that wasn’t matched for years on any other
system was the special cartridge “Computer Intro!”. Not a game
at all, this was actually a system that allowed you to learn

assembly language. Using the huge instruction book provided;
you could actually program the Odyssey^2. While few people had
the inclination or patience to work with this, for those who did
it was a learning experience that they treasure forever.

Among the initial games were a lot of sports simulations, such
as Baseball, Football and Hockey/Soccer. Hockey/Soccer was
especially fun, as when a puck was just in between two opposing
players, they would turn and bang their sticks at each other in a
raucous fight. It does seem likely that this was more of a
programming flaw than an intended feature, but it sure added charm
to the game.

One of the low point for the system was one of their early
sci-fi shooters, “Alien Invaders – Plus!”. The “Plus” was probably
supposed to signify a few advances in gameplay over earlier games in
the “Space Invaders” genre, but frankly, this game should have been
titled “Alien Invaders – Minus!”. First, the two really good points.
During the entire battle, one of the alien mother ships was always
flitting back and forth at the top of the screen. I have to admit,
for the Odyssey^2 (or even the Atari), the animation for it was really
cool. Sort of like a space-octopus with a giant eye in the center
that could lauch laser blasts at you. Second, it was kind of cool
that when your spaceship was destroyed, it wouldn’t totally be gone.
Instead you would then be left with your unprotected character,
depicted as a little man, that would have to run to some nearby
blast shelter where he could obtain a new ship (if he wasn’t fried
by incoming laser blasts). So what were the problems? Aside from
the alien mother ship, the graphics were terrible, and so was the
sound. Further, the gameplay simply wasn’t much fun. It was a poor
clone of “Space Invaders”, and Magnavox frankly should not have
released it without an overhall on its gameplay.

In later years, Mattel released some really outstanding
sports games for the Atari 2600 under the “M-Network” label, which
surpassed anything previously seen on the Atari 2600, the Odyssey^2
or Bally Astrovision. These games redefined the state of the art
for 8 bit sports gaming. Unfortunately, Philips evidently didn’t
think that the O^2 could handle games of this complexity, or at
least didn’t think that such games would be profitable; thus O^2
owners never got to see improved versions of any sports games.
That’s too bad, because a large number of videogame buyers are also
sports fans. When they saw that the Mattel’s games for the Atari
or Intellivision far surpassed those available on the O^2, it gave
the O^2 a black eye. This probably was one of the main factors that
caused the O^2 to lose its market share.

Really, the less said about most O^2 sports games, the better.
I could give a review of “Football!”, “Baseball”, “Electronic
Volleyball”, or “Alpine Skiing”, but really, what’s the point? The
graphics and sound were not good, and neither was the gamplay.
Sure, at the time that these games were released, they probably were
pretty good, and I’m sure that many people enjoyed them for many
hours. But their problem is that these games didn’t stand up to
the test of time. No, I don’t mean by that to imply that they
aren’t good compared to today’s games. A real classic game player
would never make such a comparison! What I mean is that even two
years later, still in the middle of the O^2’s life cycle, these
games already were outdated and dull, so anyone who wanted good
sport games had to go to another system.

In contrast, the other O^2 games that I will below mention
more favorably below did past the short-scale test of time. Even
by 1983 and 1984 the following games were all still as fun as the
later games on competing systems.

* The Challenger Series and Master Strategy Games *

What really brought people to love the system were the expanded
memory ‘Challenger series’ games, which were now doubled to 4k ROM.
“U.F.O.!” was more or less the Odyssey^2 version of Asteroids, and
it _rocked_. Unlike the Atari 2600, the O^2 could have up to 16
objects moving around the screen at once, so there was never any of
that terribly annoying Atari-flicker which made so many of their
on-screen characters look like see-through ghosts. Nowhere was the
O^2 advantage in this respect more obvious than “U.F.O!”. Another
strong entry in this series was “Freedom Fighter”, modeled after the
arcade hit “Defender”. The home version of “Defender for the Atari
2600 had great playability, but terrible on-screen flicker. The
O^2 clone had bigger characters, no flicker, and smoother game play,
and in these respects was superior. On the other hand, the Atari
version had the landscape and viewer, and this gave the feeling of
flying over a vast terrain, a feeling that was lacking in the O^2

When it came to making original games, few could forget the
adorable animation of the monkeys climbing around the monkey-bars
in “Monkeyshines!”. And when it came to making clones, no one came
closer to the arcade’s Pac-Man than the Odyssey^2 classic “K. C.
Munchkin”. Unlike the – let’s face it – incredibly ugly version of
Pac-Man that Atari foisted upon its gamers, “K.C. Munchkin” had huge,
brightly colored monsters, with fine animation, and not a trace of
that ‘Atari-flicker’ that plagued Pac-Man. Unfortunately, Magnavox
came a bit too close, and their game was ruled to be a patent
infringement on Atari’s rights; Magnavox was forced to withdraw K.C.
from the shelves. Of course, soon after Magnavox released its first
ever sequel game “K. C.’s Krazy Chase”, which had the original K.C.
tumbling around in a similar maze, but with all new gameplay, as K.C.
had to face off against the dreaded “Dratapillar”. Its hard to
explain the game if you have never seen it, but if you let Pac-Man
lose in ‘Centipede’ you’d come close to imagining it. Trivia: It
was named after K. C. Mencken, president of N.A.P. at that time.

One of the most engaging Challenger series games for the O^2 was
an action packed platformer called “Pick-Axe-Pete”. Bob Harris writes:
“This was originally supposed to be Hammerin’ Hank. But after
losing the copyright case over K.C. Munchin being, er, inspired by
PacMan, the powers that be decided that a hammer would make this
game too similar to Donkey Kong.”

In the final version of Pick Axe-Pete, you controlled an
animated miner, using a pick-axe to dig out gold from a multitude of
dangerous spinning, bouncing boulders. While the 8-bit home versions
Donkey-Kong had the advantage of being based on the incredibly popular
arcade game, Pick-Axe-Pete, at least on the early 8-bit systems, was
the superior game. Sure, one problem was that there were no background
graphics; all objects were purely foreground. Still, the gameplay

was fantastic. You could use your controller to make Pete walk,
climb, jump, and duck. Pete could grap pick-axes and keys, and even
leap across chasms. And unlike earlier O^2 games, the boulders weren’t
inanmiate, smoothly moving objects. These boudlers, monochrome as
they were, were alive. They spun and twisted, roller and bounced.
As you moved from level to level the action of the boulders increased
to a frentic pace, and you could hardly smash them fast enough to
clear a space for you to move safely. Unlike most O^2 games, there
was even a second screen in which you saw Pete falling from one section
of the mine to the next. Sure, it was all low-res, but the point is
that it was low-res _well-done_. One of the nice touches was that
the programmers didn’t use the standard low resolution, O^2
characters to depict Pete. Instead they used a number of higher-
resolution sprites to animate Pete in a more realistic fashion.

One of the strongest points of the system was its excellent
speech synthesis unit, “The Voice of Odyssey^2”, which was released
as a hardware add-on for speech synthesis, music, and sound-effects
enhancement. Compared to the similar voice synthesis systems of
that time period, the “Voice of Odyssey^2 was one of the better

Pick-Axe-Pete and K.C. Munchkin were just two of a number of
Odyssey^2 games inspired by or based on arcade hits. Another
high-point for the O^2 system was “Attack of the Timelord”, an old
school space shooter loosely based on Galaxian. As usual, the game
had no background graphics, and the alien spaceships were all one
piece, with no details or animation. But the _way_ in which these
alien spacecraft moved was truly an artistic trimuph for the system.
A series of eight flying saucers would fly down from the top of the
screen, and dart across the playing field in a twisting, frentic
and serpentine path. When one of the was destoyed by one of your
missles, in exploded in a beautiful geometric array or light and
sound. In between levels, there was an intermission screen where
you would be taunted by the on-screen face of Spyruss-the-Deathless.
Best yet, this game was enhanced for use with the Voice of Odyssey^2.
While voice in a videogame may not seem like a big deal today, back
in 1982 this thing rocked! Finally, with the relased of “Attack of
the Timelord”, the Odyssey^2 had a space-shooter that rivaled that
of any other 8-bit game out there.

One game that I absolutely have to mention in conjunction
with “The Voice” is “Smithereens”. Set in medieval times, there
are two of the standard O^2 men, on opposing sides of the screen.
Each has a Castle to defend, and a catapult to defend it with.
Between the castles lies an open field, interupted by a body of
water. Your objective? Hurl stones at the opponent’s castle
until it crumble to dust. His objective? The same! The gameplay
itself shoud not have been all that engaging, yet with the
fantastic sound effects provided by the “the Voice”, it was all
that and more. You’d hear the whooshing of the rock as it
catapulted through the sky, and an extremely realistic crash as
the boudler smashed into the castle. If you really messed up,
you could even hear realistic sounds of your boulder plopping into
the lake. It’s hard to describe in print, but playing it with
all the sound effects was just outstanding. A couple of years ago
I pulled the game out of storage, and played it with a few of
my housemates. Now when they saw the graphics, they literally
laughed out loud. They were used to today’s PC, PSX and N64
games, and calling any 8-bit machine a ‘videogame’ seemed like a

joke to them. Then they tried it. An hour later we were all
still hurling boulders at each other, laughing and joking, and
enjoying the low-res virtual carnage. Gaming doesn’t get much
better than that!

The area that the Odyssey^2 may well be best remembered for was
its pioneering fusion of board and video-games: The Master Strategy
Series. The first game released was the instant classic “The Quest
for the Rings!”, with gameplay somewhat similar to Dungeons and
Dragons, and a storyline reminiscent of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord
of the Rings”. In the eyes of many gamers, there was nothing that
could hold a candle to this game. Another title in this series was
“Conquest of the World”. The gameplay and graphics were an improvment
over the previous O^2 war game, “Sub Chase!/Armored Encounter!”
However where the game really shined was that it allowed the players
to interject a certain amount of politcal and strategic realism
into the battles. Finally, the last Master Strategy game released
was “The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt”, which allowed people to
realistically learn about and simulate stock-trading.

* Let’s end on a high note! *

Near the end of its commercial lifespan, the O^2 programmers
learned how to wring more power out of the machine, and they
released great games such as “Attack of the Timework!” , “Turtles”,
“Killer Bees” and “Power Lords”. All of these games exhibited more
detailed graphics, fast and exciting gameplay, and good design.

Concerning Killer Bees, Bob Harris writes: “I was
experimenting with a lot of different techniques with KB, most of
which stayed in the released version. The death concept was a
little unusual. It may not be obvious, but you actually lose bees
(in your swarm) gradually. The longer you are in contact with the
bad swarm, the more bees you lose. I don’t know if anyone ever
figured this out – the reviewer at Games Magazine (Burt Hochberg)
asked why I didn’t allow multiple lives like every other game did.
Similarly, your opponents (which I called BeeBots, I don’t recall
what the rule book actually calls them) die slowly as they are
stung. Another experiment that I took out was scoring in thousandths.
I had grown tired of games where every score was some multiple of
a million, and the scores looked to be really high. I set out to
prove a point, and made KB score in units of .001. So you’d play
and play and play, and then you might say, geez, I got a 4 (4.063).
It was very disappointing!”

One of my personal O^2 favorites is “Turtles”. It is the one
O^2 game that was a licensed arcade coin-op translation. In it,
you played a mother turtle scurring around a maze, trying to find
her baby turtles to bring safely back home. In your path were a
number of animated beetles that could harm you; you could only
temporarilly stun with a bug bomb, a small number of which you could
pick up at various points in the arena. With the completion of
each level, you were treated to an animated intermission showing
your Turtle and her adversaries climbing up a ladder to the next
level. To add to this, there was even an animated opening screen –
something very rare in Odyssey^2 games. This game also made good
use of “The Voice” to provide two different melodies to accompany

the gameplay. But of course, the final test is gameplay, and here
this game again suceeded brilliantly. I spent more time on this
game than just about any other O^2 game there was, even Demon
Attack, so that’s saying something.

For quite some time, Odyssey^2 fans griped that the number of
new games was very limited, due to there being no third party support
in the USA. Howeever, unbeknownst to American gamers, the success
of the Philips G7000 Videopac overseas led to two other companies
to produce games for it: Parker Brothers released Popeye, Frogger,
Q*Bert and Super Cobra, while Imagic released outstanding versions of
their hit games, Demon Attack and Atlantic. Finally, in 1983 the
two Imagic games were brought to the United States; “Demon Attack”
and “Atlantis”. These became strong sellers for the Odyssey^2.
Contrary to the skeptical expectations of some, the Odyssey^2

versions of both Demon Attack and Atlantis managed to captured all
of the gameplay and most of the graphics of the Atari 2600 version.
Demon Attack’s graphics are probably the best the system ever saw.

Around 1983, the videogame market began to contract, which
would end in the infamous videogame ‘crash’ of 1984. In this time
period Philips saw the O^2 lose its remaining market share. Many home
videogame companies folded entierly, or went into serious debt. In
order to compete, North American Philips/Magnavox developed their
own next generation 8 bit system, code named the Odyssey^3. Later
press releases termed it the Odyssey Command Center.

The Odyssey^3 Command Center was to have 16k ROM, 16k RAM,
and a capacity for detailed background and foreground graphics. The
keyboard was redesigned to have more keys, and a real computer
keyboard was added in place of the Odyssey^2’s flat plastic membrane.
There was a built in joystick holder, so that one person could use
both joysticks at once, for arcade style games. The unit also had a
number of planned accessories: Prototypes of a voice synthesizer and
a 300 baud modem were created. Fruther, Philips planned to develop
an interface to connect the O^3 to Philips laserdis players, which
would allow the machine to play extremely sophisticated games.
The Odyssey^3 Command Center was hyped to the US press, and previewed
at the 1983 Consumer Electronics show.

It never was released. Leonard Herman’s “Phoenix: The Fall
and Rise of Home Videogames” states:

Things looked hopeful for Odyssey when the year [1983] began,
although it abandoned its plans to market the Odyssey^3. This
had been done because excecutives at the company felt that the
O^3 didn’t advance enough technologically to compete against the
inexpensive computers that were on the market. Instead…
Odyssey turned to a new direction. [They soon announced the
creation of] Probe 2000, a new line of software for competing
videogame and computer systems. The first title that Odyssey
announced was ‘Pursuit of the Pink Panther’. By October
Odyssey released one Colecovision-compatible game called “War
Room”. Unfortunately, it was to be the only game that would
be released under the Probe 2000 banner. A severe chip shortage
caused the company to scrap all of its other titles since it
couldn’t hope to get them out in time for the critical Christmas
season. Following this disaster, [the American branch of]
Odyssey decided to abandon the industry that it created altogether.

For years, American classic videogame collectors searched for
prototypes of the Odyssey^3 Command Center. In time, it became a holy
grail of classic videogame collecting among those collectors who knew
that a few prototypes existed.

* The Holy Grail Discovered! *

In 1995 I became one of the very few American game collectors
to discover that Philips had indeed released the Odyssey^3, and was
the first to publicise this information on the Internet. As I
found out, the Odyssey^3 was indeed sold in 1983 and 1984. It was
sold only in Europe, and was dubbed the Philips Videopac + G7400.
The Videopac + console had almost exactly the same internal hardware
as the American Odyssey^3 prototype, but externally it was very

different. The keyboard did indeed have more keys than the
Odyssey^2/Philips G700, but they were still made from a flat plastic
membrane keyboard, instead of from physically clickable keys.
Unlike the American prototype, there was no built-in joystick holder.

The Philips Videopac + G7400 could play four types of cartridges.

(1) All the standard Odyssey^2 / Philips G7000 cartridges. The
backward compatibility would ensure that many Odyssey owners would
upgrade to this system and still be able to use all their old games.

(2) A series of remakes, in which popular Odyssey^2/Philips
G7000 games were re-released with high resolution, beautifully
rendered background graphics, similar in quality to what one would see
on a Colecovision. If these game were played on a regular Odyssey^2/
Philips G7000 the game would play just like the classic version, but
the high-res background graphics would not be visible.

(3) A series of totally new Odyssey games. These had standard
Odyssey foreground graphics but also had high resolution background
graphics. If these game were played on a regular Odyssey^2/Philips
G7000 the game would play correctly, but the high-res background
graphics would not be visible.

(4) A series of totally new Odyssey^3/Philips G7400 only games
that could only be played on the Odyssey^3 or G7400. These games not
only had hi-res background graphics, but they had hi-res foreground
graphics, scrolling screens, multiple screens and the ability for more
complex gameplay. Only four such games were ever made: Norseman,
Helicopter Rescue, Trans-American Ralley and the Home Computer Module.

* What’s new with the Odyssey^2 today ? *

O^2 Multicart
After years of clamoring for a multi-cart of their own, O^2
owners finally had their wishes answered by John Dondzilla
(pcjohn@monmouth.com). His O^2 multicart not only included almost
all the standard American releases, it also included a number of
the European-only releases, as well as the UR “Power Lords” and
“Clay Pigeon” videopacs. http://www.monmouth.com/~pcjohn/

A New Odyssey^2 Videogame! – AMOK!
John Dondzilla has provided O^2 owners with what they have
been clamoring for – a new O^2 cartridge! The name is AMOK! and
at last you can play a fast paced action O^2 game which also gives
you more than 1 life! In AMOK!, you are a lone human trying to
find your way through the mazes of a huge space station. Sentry
robots are running berzerk, trying to kill you at every turn. If
that’s not bad enough, the evil, indestructible SMILEYBOT will
stop at nothing to get you ! AMOK! features 12 mazes with
increasing difficulty levels.

You can buy an AMOK! cartridge for your Odyssey 2 system for
$20. Contact John Dondzilla for details via E-Mail, pcjohn@monmouth.com
The game binary will be posted soon on his web site for use with
Dan Boris’s O^2 emulator.

O^2 PC Emulator
In Fall 1996, Dan Boris (dboris@erols.com, dan.boris@coat.com)
began work on an IBM-PC compatible emulator for the Odyssey^2 and
its games. This was a most impressive acomplishment, as there is
practically no technical information on the O^2 available. He thus
studied the system to back engineer how it worked, and figured out
how to do it on his own.

His webpage http://atarihq.com/danb/ doesn’t provide Odyssey^2
cartridge ROMS, but many are available at:
This site has many very rare O^2 ROMS, including Clay Piegon, Demon
Attack, Looney Balloon, and Morse.

New games discovered in Europe
In late 1996 Marco Kerstens obtained a set of about 100
Videopac chips, that had been purchased at a Dutch fleamarket in
Eindhoven, the home of Philips Electronics. They turned out to be
a collection of Videopac games on EPROMs. Some later detective
work discovered that Philips employees often copied Videopac games
for their friends and colleagues. An examination of the EPROMS
showed that they included mostly Philips games, 3 Parker Brothers
games, and both of the Imagic games. However, the unanticipated
surprise was that there were a few totally unknown games in this set!
Carl J. Gade’s (cjgade@vestfoldnett.no) excellent Odyssey^2/Philips
Videopac web page has this to say:

“Two of these games were made by a company called GST-Video.
This name is also present in some of the Videopac Plus games,
such as Super Bee, Norseman, and Blobbers. At this time it is
unknown how this name was related to Philips. One of the
GST-games has a title-screen, which shows the name ‘Jake.
The second game is listed on a little piece of paper that
came with the EPROMs as a ‘simulation game’ by GST-Video.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to get this game to work….

Two more, ‘new’ games were found in the set of EPROMS. The
first is listed as ‘Laser’, but it turns out this probably
is not the right name of the game. About a year after the find
of the EPROMs two more remarkable finds were reported. One
concerns the find of a Videopac multi cart, or game switching
device. In this device a PROM was found labelled ‘Robot City’.
The game turned out to be ‘Laser’. The same name, Robot City,
also turned up in the second find, by Rikard Ljunkvist, of
what may be a real prototype. The second new game is listed
as a ‘catch game’ (again, no actual title is known). So, all
in all, four games were discovered that had not been known to
the Videopac collectors community before….

With the very kind help of Markus Gietzen and Dan Boris the

games have been rescued from possible decay. ROM dumps have
been made, which can be used for multicarts and emulators.
Hopefully you will soon be able to enjoy these games.”

New games discovered in Brazil
In recent years Brazil has turned out to be a great source
of information on rare games for the O^2. A Brazilian videogame
magazine, “Micro & Vídeo”, December 1984, #11, previewed an Odyssey^2
game that was never released. Entitled “A Turma da Mônica”
[“Mônica’s Gang”), it was planned to be based on comic characters
that were very famous in Brazil at the time. The magazine
displayed drawings of 4 stages in the game. Set to be programmed
in Brazil, this game would have been unique to that country. No
prototype has yet been found

More exciting was the discovery of “Clay Pigeon”. Not proto-
types, but the actual cartridges themselves were found in Brazil.
me went from total. This game lets you control an animated rifleman
(an 8-bit Charlton Heston?) that took aim at clay pigeons (clay
discs shot at for target practice). A nice touch was that when
things went poorly, your character actually had an animated temper
tantrum! Even nicer, this UR game is now available on John Dondzilla’s
O^2 multicart, so O^2 gamers everywhere can now enjoy this game.

In general, I’d like to reccomend William Cassidy’s WWW page on
O^2 games in Brazil. It can be accessed at:

And although I never would have expected it, someone has
discovered yet another previously unknown Odyssey^2 game, and from
the looks of the graphics and manual, it’s a rather advanced one at
that. Entitled “Comando Noturno”, Marcelo Ribeiro translated an
article about this game from Issue #8 of ‘Odyssey Aventura’, the
Brazilian O^2 fanclub magazine.

You are in a modern battle, piloting a fighter. Your mission
is to bomb an enemy target in the darkest night hour, and to
do this, you’ll have to fly using only the instruments. On
the screen is your fighter panel with all the instruments.
In your hands, the joystick works as a real flightstick and
the keyboard gives the flight instruments’ readings. The board
computer takes the readings and identifies the aircrafts and
anti-aircraft batteries that you find during the flight. Are
they allies or enemies? Your first mission is easy. You have
to leave the base, fly to the target and bomb it. Then, return
to base and wait for your next orders. In the meantime, the
command reserves you more complicated missions, where you have
to cross the regions where the enemy forces are ready to
intercept your flight. Together with them are the allied
forces which can confuse you in the darkness. Your fighter
is modern and is very well equipped, but you need to be very
good to operate it. You need to accurately calculate the fuel
you have and use it wisely. Your fighter can fly very high and
at very high speed, but a drop at high speed can be fatal.
And don’t forget your landing gear; you must retract it after
you take-off and put it down before landing. You do it all
using the keyboard. Be aware of the reading of the distance

to the target: you can’t come back to the base before you
reach it. Don’t forget to choose the best gun for your strategy.
The cannon will help you hit the enemy fighters. The bombs
will annihilate the anti-aircraft batteries in the ground.
But be smart: if you use all the ammunition before reaching
the target, you can’t complete your mission. And the command
is merciless: you can’t come back. “Comando Noturno!” is a game
for pilots who want excitement and who love danger. Enter this
battle and check it out!

Programming the Odyssey^2
Sören Gust (sgust@ithh.infoserv.de) has been working on
bringing to light the details of the Odyssey^2’s operating system.
He has kindly produced a very detailed and technical webpage for
the use of classic videogames afficianados, which contains
information on the BIOS of the O^2. The information was compiled
by disassembling the BIOS and some games for the Videopac G7000,
and by running small programs on the machine and on the O^2
emulator by Dan Boris. You can find his homepage, “The BIOS of the
Videopac G7000 / Odyssey 2” at:

* Technical specs *
Dan Boris’s web page contains a vast amount of technical
information concerning the Odyssey^2. Those interested in the
details can check this out at:

A short summary is provided here: The O^2 is based on the
Intel 8048 microcontroller. The 8048 is clocked at approximately
1.78 MHz. The 8048 has 64 bytes of internal RAM, and 1K of
internal ROM that contains the system BIOS. The 8048 has 2, 8-bit
I/O ports, an internal timer/counter, an interrupt input, and 2
single bit testable inputs. Besides that RAM that is internal
to the processor there are 256 bytes of RAM external to the
processor. The VDC can generate 4 different types of graphics
‘objects’, a background grid, single characters, quad characters,
and sprites. The VDC can draw 4 independent sprites. Each sprite
is 8×8 pixels in one color and can be positioned freely anywhere
on the screen. The VDC can generate up to 12 foreground characters
from it’s internal character set of 64 characters

* Game list and rarity ratings *

C = Common
U = Uncommon
R = Rare
ER = Extremely rare

UR = Ultra Rare
P = Only exists as confirmed prototype
NR = Never released/No known prototypes. Games in this
category may have been advertised or planned, but
apparently never even made it to the prototype stage.

* Magnavox/Philips Odyssey^2 *

Model number / name Rarity
AC9400 Speedway!/Spin-Out!/Crypto-Logic! C
AJ9401 Blackjack! R
AJ9402 Football! U
AJ9403 Sub Chase!/Armored Encounter! C
AJ9404 Bowling!/Basketball! U
AJ9405 Math-a-Magic!/Echo! R
AC9406 Computer Intro! U
AJ9407 Matchmaker!/Buzzword!/Logix! C
AJ9408 Baseball! C
AJ9410 Computer Golf! U
AJ9411 Cosmic Conflict! C
AJ9412 Take the Money and Run! U
AC9413 I’ve Got Your Number! R
AK9414 Invaders From Hyperspace! C
AK9415 Thunderball! R
AK9416 Showdown in 2100 A.D. C
AK9417 War of Nerves! U
AK9418 Alpine Skiing! U
AC9419 Out of This World!/Helicopter Rescue! R
This game is not the same as Videopac#59 “Helicopter
Rescue”, which was only released in Europe. Only
the titles are similar.

AK9420 Hockey!/Soccer! U
AK9421 Dynasty! U
AA9422 Volleyball! R
AA9423 Electronic Table Soccer! R
AC9424 Pocket Billiards R
AA9425 Pachinko! R
AA9426 Casino Slot Machine! U
AA9427 Blockout!/Breakdown! C
AA9428 Alien Invaders – Plus! C
AC9429 The Quest for the Rings! U
AB9430 U.F.O.! U
AB9431 Conquest of the World! U
AM9432 Monkeyshines! R
AC9433 Keyboard Creations ER
AC9434 The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt R
AC9435 K.C. Munchkin! C
AC9436 Freedom Fighters! C
AC9437 Pick Axe Pete! U
AC9438 S.I.D. the Spellbinder (voice) ER
AC9439 Nimble Numbers Ned! (voice) ER
AC9440 Type & Tell! (voice) R
AC9441 Smithereens (voice) ER
AC9422 K.C.’s Krazy Chase! (voice) U
AC9433 P.T. Barnum’s Acrobats (voice) ER

AC9445 Attack of the Timelord! (voice) R
AC9446 Turtles (voice) ER
AC9447 Killer Bees! (voice) ER
AC9448 Power Lords UR
06AV94__ Comando Noturno [Night Commando] UR Brazil only
06AV94__ Clay Pigeon UR Brazil only
?????? Sherlock Holmes P
?????? Pink Panther NR
?????? A Turma da Mônica [Mônica’s Gang] NR Brazil only

??7605 The Voice of Odyssey^2 R
Voice and music synthesizer.

* Additional notes on rare cartridges *

Odyssey^2 “Sherlock Holmes” P

Only one copy of this Master Strategy games has been found
by a collector, Jayson Hill. It may be a completed game, but is
unplayable without the instructions (which have never been found).

The idea was to match a weapon with a location, and you could
gain information that would reduce the possibilities. The in-house
programmer for this game was Bob Cheezem.

Odyssey^2 “Pink Panther” P

Magnavox bought the rights to this game to produce for the
Odyssey^2, but it never was released. Bob Harris writes: “This was
to be released as part of the Probe 2000 intro, as a cartridge
for ColecoVision, 2600, and Odyssey2. This was the first time
that North American Philips had purchased licensing rights, so we
took this as a sign that they were committed to the project. The
Coleco version was programmed in house by Randy Green. The
Odyssey2/3 version by Ed Averitt (the consultant who wrote the
lion’s share of the Odyssey games). The 2600 version was farmed
out to some outfit in Indianapolis (I think). When the folks doing
the 2600 version failed to produce on time, N.A.P pulled the plug
on the games.” I believe that both the Odyssey^2 and Colecovision
prototypes were playable, but never completed.

Odyssey^2 “Monica’s Gang” NR

A Brazilian videogame magazine, “Micro & Vídeo”, December
1984, #11, previewed an Odyssey^2 that was never released. Entitled
“A Turma da Mônica ” [“Mônica’s Gang”), it was planned to be based
on comic characters that were very famous in Brazil at the time.
The magazine displayed drawings of 4 stages in the game. Set to
be programmed in Brazil, this game would have been unique to that
country. No prototype has yet been found

GE7710 Odyssey^3 Command Center P

GE7610 Odyssey^3 Voice Module P

Odyssey^3 Modem P

Odyssey^3 Baseball P

The gameplay and foreground graphics are identical to Odyssey^2
baseball, although the action was highlighted by high-resolution
background graphics of a baseball field. A lazy man’s conversion,
one can see that little work was being put into sports games. The
situation obviously called for a totally new game, and this poor
upgrade wouldn’t have helped sell any systems if it had ever been

Odyssey^3 Killer Bees P

As an American release, this only exists as a prototype. The
prototype for the American version has not yet been found, but I
have seen a videotape of this game in action. An altered version
of this game was released in Europe (UR), the difference being
that the background graphics are completely different. In the
American prototype video we see a colorful geometric background,
while in the European release we see a yellow honey comb, and
several large cartoonish Killer Bees. Bob Harris explains:
“We found that the colorful geometric background compeletely
obscured the game play elements, so it was redesigned to be a
yellow honeycomb and bees around the boundary. The excellent
artwork was done by Ed Hensley, who I believe still is a commercial
artist in the Knoxville area.”

Odyssey^3 Attack of the Timelord P

As an American release, this only exists as a prototype.
However, this game was released in Europe as “Terrahawks +” (ER).
Oddly, two large stars blink in the American version, yet are
static in the European version.

Odyssey^3 Freedom Fighters P

As an American release, this only exists as a prototype.
However, this game was released in Europe as “Freedom Fighters +”
(ER). One notable difference is that the background graphics for
this American version are not used on the European version. Instead
these background graphics (of a big red floating asteroid and a
starfield) are used on the European Videopac “Satellite Attack +”
which is the European Odyssey^3/Philips G7400 version of “U.F.O.!”
The G7400 version of “Freedom Fighters” features a background with
several planets (one with rings) and a starfield.

Odyssey^3 Flashpoint P

Flashpoint was to be a “Robotron” type sci-fi action game,
which utilized both joysticks. One joystick allowed you to
manuveur your tank around a city, while the other fired your
weapon in any direction direction. When your tank came close to
a part of the city that was under attack, a “flashpoint”, the
screen would change to give you a close up view of the area in

which the fighting would take place. While working prototypes of
this game were produced, they were never sold anywhere. I am
unsure why Philips didn’t release this fine game for the Philips
G7400 Videopac +.


* Probe 2000 / Odyssey games for Colecovision *

War Room R

This was the only Odyssey game that ever made it to the
Colecovision market. It was sold under the label ‘Probe 2000’.

Power Lords P

The Colecovision version of this game was advertised with
drawings of screen shots, but it was never completed. The Odyssey^2
version was commercially released. Bob Harris writes “The Coleco
version of this was pretty much a disaster…The original programmer
(who shall remain anonymous) did a poor job, and stopped showing up
for work when the deadline got close. I took over the programming
and for the most part was able to get it to not crash as often,
though it embarassingly died during a ‘coming out’ party we held
for publishers in New York.

Lord of the Dungeons P

Also known as “Creatures and Caverns”, this was another of
Rex Battenberg’s games, and was inspried by Dungeons and Dragons.
Bob Harris writes: “The player could assemble a party of six
characters that explored a dungeon maze, battled monsters, and
gained experience. The key element was that the cartridge was
to have battery backed RAM so that player could return to a game.
We had a lot of problems with the RAM getting corrupted, which was
a primary reason this was not released.

Pink Panther P

Programmed by Randy Green. This game was supposed to comeout
on multiple platforms: The Odyssey^2, Atari 2600 and Colecovision.
When the Atari 2600 version failed to be produced on time, NAP
pulled the plug on the project.

* Probe 2000 / Odyssey games for Atari *

Probe 2000 – Atari 2600 “Pink Panther” P
Probe 2000 – Atari 2600 “War Room” NR
Probe 2000 – Atari 2600 “Power Lords NR
Probe 2000 – Atari 2600 “Lord of the Dungeon” NR

Probe 2000 planned to release four games on the Atari 2600:
Pink Panther, Power Lords, War Room, and Lord of the Dungeon.
Collector Steve Averitt owns the only known prototype of the Atari
2660 Pink Panther, and he wrote a review of it for the newsletter
“The 2600 Connection.” The review, with screenshots, is available
on Tim Duarte’s website at:

* Imagic games for Odyssey^2 *

Model number / name Rarity
Atlantis ER
Demon Attack ER
Demon Attack Plus UR

Demon Attack Plus was a limited release for the Philips
G7400, known only to have been sold in France and Portugal. One
known copy has a label showing that it was released by To Tec
International, and licensced by Imagic. In addition to the regular
release of these Imagic games, they were also sold in some European
countries under the Philips label.

* Parker Brothers Videopac games *

Model number / name Rarity
Popeye UR
Q*Bert UR
Super Cobra UR
Frogger ER
Tutankham NR

While Popeye and Super Cobra both work on American Odyssey^2
units, Frogger and Q*Bert do not. Frogger shows the title screen, but
the two play screens (the first being the road and the second being
the river) are totally messed up and unplayable. Q*bert reportedly
works fine on a few machines (Maybe about 10% ?) while on most other
machines it is non-controllable. These games were also released in
some European countries under the Philips label.

Tutankham was advertised in some German videogame magazines,
but was never released. There is a report by one person that it
was once sold in Brazil, but others have not been able to confirm
this. No commercial cartridges or prototypes have yet been found

* Philips Videopacs for the G7000, G7200, or G7400 *

In the following list, if there is a ‘+’ sign next to the
Videopac number, then this means that there was a ‘+’ version
(equivalent to Odyssey^3) of this game released.

Videopac number / name Rarity
(followed by name of American version.)
Philips G7000 ER
Videogame console; equivalent to an Odyssey^2.

Philips G7200 UR
Videogame console with built-in B/W monitor.

Philips G7400 UR
Videopac ‘+’ console, equivalent to the unreleased Odyssey^3
Command Center.

01+ Race/Spinout/Cryptogram C

02 Pairs/Space Rendezvous/Logic R
Matchmaker/Out Of This World/Logix
These games were released in the US, but
not together on one cartridge.

03 American Football R

04 Air-Sea War/Battle R
Armored Encounter/Subchase

05 Blackjack R
Las Vegas Blackjack

06 Ten Pin Bowling/Basketball R

07 Mathematician/Echo R

08 Baseball R

09 Computer Programmer R
Computer Intro

10 Golf R

11+ Cosmic Conflict R

12 Take the Money and Run R

13 Playschool Math UR
I’ve Got Your Number

14 Gunfighter R
Showdown in 2100 A.D.

15 Samurai ER


16 Depth Charge/Marksman R
Never released in US

17 Chinese Logic R
Never released in US

18 Laser War R
Invaders From Hyperspace

19 Catch the Ball/Noughts and Crosses R
Never released in US

20+ Stone Sling R

21 Secret of the Pharoahs ER
Never released in US

22 Space Monster R
Alien Invaders – Plus!

23 Las Vegas Gambling R
Casino Slot Machine

24 Flipper Game R

25 Skiing R
Alpine Skiing

26 Basket Game R

27 Electronic Table Football R
Electronic Table Soccer!

28 Electronic Volleyball R

29 Dam Buster R

30 Battlefield R
War of Nerves

31 Musician (by Sierra) ER
Never released in US

32 Labyrinth Game/Supermind R
Never released in US

33 Jumping Acrobats R
P.T. Barnum’s Acrobats

34+ Satellite Attack ER

35 Electronic Billiards R
Pocket Billiards

36 Electronic Hockey/Electronic Soccer R

37 Monkeyshines R

38 Munchkin R
K.C. Munchkin

39+ Freedom Fighters R

40 Microcat / 4 in 1 Row R
Never released in US

41 Conquest of the World ER

42 The Quest for the Rings ER

43+ Pick Axe Pete R

44 Crazy Chase R
K.C.’s Krazy Chase

45 Morse ER
Never released in US

46 The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt ER

47 The Mousing Cat / Adversaries ER
Never released in US

48 Backgammon ER
Never released in US

49 Turtles ER

50 Super Bee UR
Never released in US

51+ Terrahawks ER
Attack Of The Timelord

52+ Killer Bees ER

53+ Nightmare UR
Never released in US

54+ Looney Balloon ER
Never released in US

55+ Neutron Star ER
Never released in US

56+ Norseman UR
Never released in US – for G7400 only

57 Blobbers ER
Never released in US

58+ Air Battle UR
Never released in US

59+ Helicopter Rescue UR
Never released in US – for G7400 only

60+ Trans-American Rally UR
Never released in US – for G7400 only

A Newscaster UR
Keyboard Creations

V Kinder Im Verkehr UR

A German released only. An Odyssey^2 traffic safety game
for kids. Only a few hundred are rumored to exist.

c7010 Video Chess Module UR

The G7000 didn’t have enough memory and computing power for
a chess program, so Philips equipped the chess cartridge with an
add-on computer module that sat on top of the G7000 console. The
module got its power from the main console.

c7420 G7400 Home Computer Module UR
A BASIC programming module.

* Jopac Videopacs for the Philips Jopac (G7400) *

These games were only released in France; All of these are UR.

Syracuse – A ricochot” game. You must catch sunrays (dots)
with a mirror and “shoot” them at a certain angle to a city to
destroy the houses.

Chex Maxime – A platform game. It is a restaurant with three
stores, and you are the waiter and you have to serve people in
a certain time limit.

Exojet Plus

Billiards Plus (Pocket Billiards Plus)

Catapult Plus (Smithereens Plus)

Motor Crash

* Credits *

Robert D. Kaiser

kaiser@biosys.net , kaiser@physiology.pnb.sunysb.edu

Thanks goes out to all the kind people listed below for
their help and information.

Daniel Boris dan.boris@coat.com , dboris@erols.com
William Cassidy kcassidy@zoomnet.net
John Dondzila pcjohn@monmouth.com
Carl J. Gade cjgade@vestfoldnett.no
Jerry Greiner jerryg@hevanet.com
Bob Harris nitlion@mindspring.com
W. Jayson Hill jlhill@ix.netcom.com
Keita Iida keita@mindspring.com
Marco Kerstens m.kerstens@bw.kun.nl
H. Danny Oosterhoff danny@ad1.mey.nl
Matthew Pritchard matthewp@netcom.com
Hans Reutter reutter@coil.com
Marcelo Ribeiro mribeiro@bridge.com.br

and everyone at Digital Press!

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