“16 levels of peril from the future!” Watch a demo here.
The only Terminator-themed video game I remember is Terminator II: Judgement Day, which was a lot of fun.
Surveying the Gen X landscape and the origins of geek
The Odyssey 2000 (1977) was the 7th iteration of the original Odyssey, the very first home video game console, designed by Ralph H. Baer. As many of you have heard, Baer passed away on December 5th. Pong, though much more popular, was essentially a knock-off of the Odyssey’s Tennis game, and so the history of home consoles begins with Baer, not Bushnell.
Select pages only. I didn’t remember how unwaveringly creepy the Cabbage Patch Kids were/are until the catalog jogged my memory. The “anatomy” lesson seals the deal.
The Coleco tabletop arcade games were at the top of every kid’s holy grail list. Other handhelds were good, even great, but these looked like actual cabinets and you could take them anywhere, especially to school where the other kids (and some adults) followed you around like so many hungry puppy dogs. It didn’t really matter that the screen was so tiny—the idea that you had a real arcade at your fingertips melted the logic circuits. We had some sort of fundraising drive at my elementary school in ’82, and the grand prize was either the Coleco Galaxian or Pac-Man. The number of chocolate bars one had to sell to get the thing was impossibly large, but I have very tangible memories of knocking on doors around the neighborhood all day long with dreams of that little machine dancing in my head. It was not to be, but I did get my beloved Atari 800 shortly thereafter.
The E.T. Rider? No, Coleco. No.
The G.I. Joe Arctic Recon Patrol? Yes. Very much yes.
EVERYONE in the school wanted a shot at playing it. Students would literally line up in front of their table for a chance to play a round. These two fellows were the coolest kids in the middle school wing for a week.
I got my chance to play the game, once. Like the real Pac-Man, I was terrible. My turn was up very quickly.
Truth. The kids who owned these games were superstars, and turns were scarce and short.
Tomytronic 3-D ranks very high up on my wanted-badly-but-never-got list. The games weren’t very good, in my opinion, but the gimmick was irresistible. For the very first time, kids could play a video game they didn’t own in complete privacy. It almost felt like we were doing something wrong.
At arcades there was always someone watching and/or waiting to play. Ditto for electronic handhelds on the playground. That sensation of always being watched, for me, was distracting. I wanted to explore whatever world the game was offering me alone and undisturbed. In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t a gimmick. Maybe the singular spaceship-binocular design was the game.
The downside was that every “pair of binoculars” was 30 bucks. That’s more than most of the non-brand LCD games, but almost $20 less than the big name tabletop arcade games. Here’s Tomytronic somewhat buried in the 1983 Sears Wishbook. I found nothing in the available 1984 catalogs.
There’s a good overview of the Tomoytronic 3-D system at Modojo that covers the privacy angle, along with technical details and individual games. And here’s a demo of Thundering Turbo. My favorite was Planet Zeon, the Star Wars clone, but the Tron-like Sky Attack was a close second.
Hiking? What’s that?
(Image via Vintage Photos 2012)