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(Continued from page 7) 500,000 units sold, people seemed to agree.
Of course Coleco couldn't just rest on its laurels of offering group of people whooping and hollering like they were on
everything and neither could Atari rest on the history of the Contenstant's Row on "The Price is Right". And of course,
venerable 2600. November of 1982 saw the release of the Mr.-Voice-In-The-Background would remind the viewer that
Atari 5200 and the two decided to go for each other's the "only way to play any of them is on a home video system
throats. Atari used a similar ad campaign they used with the made by Atari". Atari put a neat twist to that line in one com-
2600 (the same exclusive games) but attacked the Colecovi-mercial where you see a few screen shots of the popular
sion outright, not unlike Mattel's approach with the Intellivi-exclusive games and before the spot ends Mr. Voice says "If
sion. Addressing the Atari compatible expansion module, the you try to play [insert game here] on any other system, you'll
ad pretty much asks the viewer to "think again" when they're see this." and the screen switches to show a bunch of static.
told by Coleco that their system could play "all Atari
Another approach Atari commonly used was to advertise that games". A person that could be "Where's Waldo's" dad asks
the VCS had a lot of stuff to offer. One particular TV ad had a the Voice in bewilderment "It can't?!" followed by the 2600
shopper step up to a counter and asks for "an Atari 2600 version of Pac Man which switches to a more arcade like
system and everything that comes with it". The shop keep version only for the 5200. Another person pops up voicing
just starts stacking tons of games onto the counter with the their approval followed by a hand trying to ram the Pac Man
poor shopper continually asking "is that everything?" and cart into the Colecovision with no result. Waldo's dad comes
being answered by even more crap being laid down. "Nearly back again asking about the adapter and once again Mr.
300 cartridges, [soon to be] voice module, remote controlled Hand tries to insert the cartridge into the Expansion Module
joysticks, track ball and a computer keyboard." The cus- with no luck. The ad continues with voices of people asking
tomer, wide eyed at the sheer amount of plastic and card- about their favorite Atari games: "Pole Position?" followed by
board that is piled in front of him, exclaims that the offering is a clip of the 5200 version with Mr. Voice stating "Not THIS
"amazing". The customer, on his tip toes looking over the Pole Position". An old trick pulled from the archives, buffed
wall of cartridge boxes, then asks if that's everything. The and repainted for use.
clerk then returns with "That's everything....for now". Coleco, however, didn't mind fighting fire with fire. Their
retorting ad displayed a split screen: on the left was a Cole-
covision owner while on the right was a 5200 owner. Both
End of an Era owners could play arcade-based games but the Colecovision
could also play Atari 2600 games while the 5200 could not (at As the 80's progressed and video games became more popu-
the time the ad aired the promised 2600 adapter wasn't out lar, more companies threw their hats in the ring to take a few
yet). The ad then had the Coleco owner typing away at a shots at Atari, and at times Intellivision. Vectrex, the vector
computer keyboard, with Mr. Voice stating the system could based self contained game system, advertised that it's the
also become a computer. Of course, the 5200 couldn't do "only video game system with its own screen" that you can
that either. With ads like this along with being a solid platform take with you. In print ads it was said that Vectrex was
the Colecovision sold extremely well through 1983 to 1984, "chosen two-to-one over Atari and Intellivision for real arcade
edging past Atari and Mattel in sales. Unfortunately for game play". That system's advertising and promise didn't live
Coleco this fast rise to fame couldn't last. up to the assault that the Connecticut Leather Company,
a.k.a. Coleco, dropped with the release of the Colecovision. As 1984 came to a close, so did the video game mar-
ket. Thanks to many factors like too many crud games flood-The Colecovision is probably a culmination of what the mar-
ing the market, the rise (and price drop) of home computers ket was growing toward. It was advertised that the machine
and too many companies fighting for shelf and floor space the brought "the arcade experience home" and it pretty much
scene just faded. The advertising cannons from all the major did. Zaxxon looked, played and sounded pretty much like the
companies went silent as most dropped out of the video arcade version. Same with the pack-in cartridge Donkey
game market (Magnavox, Mattel and Coleco) or refocused Kong. The venerable 2600 couldn't even begin to approach
their efforts to the growing home computer market that claim at the time. To dangle a carrot in front of Atari
(Atari). The only real ads people saw for video games were 2600 owners not wanting to have to get rid of their games to
the department stores offering bargain prices on cartridges make room for a new system, Coleco offered an expansion
and systems. To many it seemed video games were just a module that allowed those gamers to play their competing
fad like pet rocks, fondue parties and disco but little did they cartridges on the Colecovision. To further bring the arcade
know that in just a couple of years a little Japanese company experience home a Driving Module was also released that
would land on US soil and reignite the industry. It would also consisted of a small steering wheel, a foot pedal and a spot to
reload weapons to a whole new advertising war that is still put a controller to be used as a shift knob. Finally Coleco
widely remembered to this day. But that tale is for another also offered the most used selling point all three companies
time. used at one point: the ability to expand to make the system a
full fledged computer. This was dubbed Expansion Module
#3: The Adam. Coleco's ad claimed that it "was the only
system you'll ever need". By the end of 1982 and more than
9 | Video Game Trader Magazine | #8 |
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