Having released over a dozen PONG systems in the 70s through their Telstar range, Coleco was back in the gaming industry in 1982 with the ColecoVision, a second generation cartridge console which originally retailed for $175 in the USA. It was sold in Europe as the CBS ColecoVision.
It’s main competitor would become Ataris latest console, the Atari 5200.
The console came bundled with Donkey Kong, the hugely successful Nintendo arcade game. 12 games were available at launch though another 10 were released just a few months later.
The ColecoVision had an interesting design. The controllers were stored on the top of the machine, just like the Mattel Intellivision, however the controllers were detachable. The cartridge slot was on top too with the label facing towards you, so you could easily see what game you were playing (on the Atari the label faced away from you).
At the front there was an expansion slot, which allowed you to connect one of three expansion modules.
The controllers were similar to those from other systems at the time. They had a 12 digit numeric keypad on the front, a basic joystick and side action buttons. Though it was possible to use a controller from other systems like the Atari or the Sega Mega Drive.
2 additional controllers were released. The first one was the Roller Controller, which came bundled with the arcade port Slither. This controller was about the same size as the ColecoVision itself!
The other controller which was released was the Super Action Controller. The controller had a hand grip with 4 fire buttons in the finger area. It had a joystick at the top and a numeric keypad on the front.
Around 125 games were released for the system. The most popular games were arcade posts including Donkey Kong, Mouse Trap, Zaxxon and Mr Do!
The ColecoVision was fairly successful, managing to sell over 2 million units within the first two years. Though sales dropped considerably during 1984, resulting in the system being discontinued the following year.
Due to the ability to expand the system to play Atari 2600 games and to use controllers from other systems, it’s a great system for retro gamers to purchase to play games from the early 80s.
The Texas Instruments TMS9928A Video Processor allowed 16 colours to be shown on a resolution of 256×192 pixels. Audio was powered by the Texas Instruments SN76489A, this was also used in the Sega SG-1000 (making the two systems almost identical from a hardware point of view).
The console had 1kb of RAM and 16kb of VRAM. Most cartridges had between 8kb and 32kb of ROM.
The front expansion port made the ColecoVision a versatile console. In total 3 expansion modules were released. A 4th expansion module to allow games from the Mattel Intellivision to be played on the console was planned but never released.
Expansion Module #1 : Atari 2600 Adaptor
Expansion Module #1 was a large module which allowed users to play Atari 2600 games through ColecoVision, giving them a total library of over 1,000 games.
The expansion module was quite large though it was smaller than the Atari 2600 itself. By using this module the total size of the ColecoVision was pretty huge. Though it allowed users to play Atari 2600 games, something which the Atari 5200 couldn’t even do.
Expansion Module #2 : Steering Wheel
The second expansion module was a driving pack which included a steering wheel and pedals. It also came bundled with the game Turbo.
Expansion Module #3 : Coleco Adam Computer
The final module was released in 1983. The ADAM expansion module turned the ColecoVision into a home computer. It came with a full keyboard, a Digital Data Pack (a double cassette storage system) and a printer known as the SmartWriter Electronic Typewriter.
The module was bundled Buck Rodgers: Plant of Zoom as their was a legal problem with including Donkey Kong (Atari owned the license for home computers).
This has to be one of the largest expansion accessories released for any console. It wasn’t successful, probably due to the $750 it was sold at (which cost more than purchasing a brand new ColecoVision and a home computer such as the Commodore 64).
Around 125 games were released for the ColecoVision in total.
2010: The Graphic Action Game
Alcazar: The Forgotten Fortress
Artillery Duel/Chuck Norris Superkicks
B.C.’s Quest for Tires
B.C. II: Grog’s Revenge
Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom
Bump ‘n’ Jump
Cabbage Patch Kids: Adventures in the Park
Cabbage Patch Kids Picture Show
Chuck Norris Superkicks
The Dam Busters
Donkey Kong Jr.
Dr. Seuss’ Fix-Up the Mix-Up Puzzler
The Dukes of Hazzard
Frogger II: Threeedeep!
Gateway to Apshai
It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll
James Bond 007
Ken Uston Blackjack/Poker
Kung Fu Superkicks
Learning with Leeper
Motocross Racer/Tomarc the Barbarian
Mr. Do!’s Castle
One on One Basketball
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
Quest for Quintana Roo
Robin Hood/Sir Lancelot
Roc ‘N Rope
Rock ‘N Bolt
Rocky Super Action Boxing
Root Beer Tapper
Smurf Paint ‘n’ Play Workshop
Smurf: Rescue in Gargamel’s Castle
Squish ‘Em Featuring Sam
Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator
Star Wars: The Arcade Game
Super Action Baseball
Super Action Football
Super Action Soccer
Tomarc the Barbarian
The Wizard of Id’s Wiz Math
Some great Homebrew games have been released over the last 20 years. Here is a list of some of the most popular games:
Amazing Snake (Homebrew)
Astro Invader (Homebrew port)
Jeepers Creepers (Homebrew)
Monster Masher (Homebrew)
Mr. Chin (Homebrew port)
Ms. Space Fury (Homebrew)
Pac-Man Collection (Homebrew port)
Schlange CV (Homebrew)
Search for the Stolen Crown Jewels (Homebrew)
Search for the Stolen Crown Jewels 2 (Homebrew)
Space Invaders Collection (Homebrew port)
Spectar (Homebrew port)
Star Fortress (Homebrew)
Terra Attack (Homebrew)
A commercial from the early 80s advertising the ColecoVision.
Another commercial for the ColecoVision, this time from 1983.
A good review of the ColecoVision.
Another video review of the ColecVision.
A review of the ColecoVision controllers.
Summary of the ColecoVision Roller Controller.
A great look at the Atari Expansion Module 1.
A background story about Coleco and how they got involved in the games industry.
A fantastic review of the ColecoVision from the Angry Video Game Nerd.
A good review of Burger Time on the ColecoVision.
Pac-Man on the ColecoVision.
Defender on the ColecoVision.
A good review of Donkey Kong Junior.