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(Continued from page 5) and not the movie with officers just holding walkie-talkies
while a bunch of teenage kids were flying off the ground over
ereens! one player must sling rocks with a catapult to destroy barricades on their bikes. Thank you Drew for tainting a part
their opponent's castle. The Voice allows the game to not of my childhood you dirty.....Ahem. Sorry.
only razz the players ("C'mon, turkey, hit it!") but also George and Henry made a charming duo on the screen. With
sounded out some pretty convincing explosions. scenes like Thomas putting the screws to George at an ar-
Intellivision: Intelligent Television cade, asking why he always talked about sports titles, or the
awkward meeting on a sidewalk where we see the boy
Mattel decided to throw its hat into the console world by sheepishly looking up to his gaming idol. The commercials
releasing their "Intellivision" game system in 1980. Mattel were golden. One particular commercial had Henry writing a
leveled its guns straight at Atari. Unlike the generic "we're letter to "Mr. Intellivision (scribbles out the system) mmm
better than everyone" approach of Magnavox, Mattel entered sorry, Plimpton" asking George to do something about the
the marketing ring with all the swagger of a professional Intellivision's price because his buddy's dad wants to buy "the
wrestler, pointing to the entrance and calling out the other video game because it's cheaper". The scene fades to
2600. The first volley was the promise of a computer key- Mr. Intelli...Plimpton tapping away at his manual typewriter
board expansion. However the unit never really hit retail responding to "Dear...what was his name?" (Mattel could not
production and was always said to be "coming soon". use Henry's name as Atari threatened a lawsuit as they
To try and get the attention of consumers Mattel's primary bought the license to "E.T.") describing the smaller and
marketing approach borrowed a page from detergent com- cheaper Intellivision II. At the end George proclaims that with
mercials: product comparisons. An Intellivision commercial the new system and the lower price "your friend's father has
generally went like this: an Atari title would be shown to the no excuse now".
viewer while a similar title was displayed from the Intellivi- As a final push to try to better compete with the sheer number
sion's library. While it was painfully obvious that the Intellivi- of titles available on the 2600, Mattel released the "System
sion game looked and sounded better than the Atari title Changer". Essentially a clone of the 2600, and just like one
Mattel rammed the concept home with the help of well-known of the Colecovision's Expansion Modules, plugged into the
humorist, and author, George Plimpton. In a professional yet Intellivision II to allow one to play Atari games. The ad that
jovial manner Plimpton's early Intellivision sports game com- went with that showed a kid wearing a ski visor coming to-
mercials would have him give his opinion on, or ask the wards the screen then quickly flipping to a first person view of
viewer which game they thought was "closer to the real a hand gripping a flight style control stick. The hand would
thing". Of course the conclusion would be that Mattel's offer- shift the stick to move the camera through an Atari Death Star
ing was the superior choice and even if you were a dyed-in- -like trench of 2600 cartridge boxes. The narrator explains
the-wool Atari fan and possibly blind it was hard to disagree. that Intellivision II plays all the best games, the most games
The sports games helped Intellivision loosen the wallets of and the best selling games. "More than Atari or Colecovision"
armchair coaches but Mattel couldn't rest on that ap- the voice says as the hand on the joystick presses the fire
proach. Atari was still killing them with the 2600's arcade and button and blows up a 2600 and a Coleco system that flew
action titles. Mattel shifted its spotlight from their signature towards the camera. The viewer is then asked to get the
sports titles and ran ads to remind consumers that the Intel- Intellivision II as "it has the most going for it". It was a neat
livision did have other games. One such ad had a boy concept for those who wanted an Intellivision II but for early
dressed in a suit and glasses standing behind two TVs. One adopters, the System Changer would work with the first
showing Atari space games and the other showing a blank model. Owners could take their Intellivision I system to their
screen with the sign "Other Companies" on the top. The boy local game repair shop to have a hardware modification done
presents to the viewer that "when it came to space games, so the System Changer would work.
nobody compares to Atari." Suddenly, off the side of your Atari: We've Got What's Hot...And They Don't
screen, ol' George appears, quickly placing an Intellivision
name plate on the blank set. With his typical swagger he So there's Magnavox touting it's pseudo computer and Mattel
informs the kid about Mattel's space games which had the successfully ripping apart some of the 2600's titles. Atari took
boy stare at the TV in near-drooling bewilderment muttering "I a somewhat more dignified approach. "Atari" was practically
didn't know". Out of thin air Plimpton produces a controller a household name. Now they just had to step out from the
and asks the kid to compare for himself and finally finishing dust of the combat zone and remind people who was king of
with telling us that "once you'll know". the video game realm.
You'd think that these Plimpton bombs would be plenty am- One of the biggest selling points of the VCS was its exclusive
munition in the advertising wars against Atari. Oh no, dear arcade titles. Many ads that brought this idea home would tell
readers, Mattel was just getting started. By 1982 Mattel the viewer that the hottest games "from Atari" could only be
decided to pair George "Mr. Intellivision" up with a young lad played on "systems from Atari". In others Atari would list off a
by the name of Henry Thomas. You might remember him bunch of exclusive titles (Space Invaders, Asteroids), separat-
playing a boy named Elliot in a small flick called "E.T. The ing the game screens with various people or an increasing
Extra-Terrestrial". You know, the flick with the cops with guns (Continued on page 9)
7 | Video Game Trader Magazine | #8 |
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