The ColecoVision Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!

This entry is part 18 of 17 in the series Console Lists

The Connecticut Leather Company was started in 1932 by an ambitious young buck named Maurice Greenberg. The company made bank during World War 2 and with wads of cash in hand, began diversifying. One idea which they had was a “make your own leather moccasin” kit for kids, released in 1954. The product sold so well that the Connecticut Leather Company decided to expand as much as they could into the toy market. They were helped by a brand new method of vacuum forming plastic into shapes (Kiddie pools, dolls, etc). Eventually the toys were doing well enough that The Connecticut Leather Company actually sold off the leather making and distribution parts of the company and rebranded as Coleco.

When the console business came around, Coleco jumped right in. They started with 1976’s release of the Telstar (A home Pong clone) and a number of little electronic devices, including some table top arcade ports of a bunch of popular arcade games.

Yes, the sky seemed to be the limit for Coleco. They were doing so well that they decided to take Atari head on. Coleco designed an upgradeable machine which was more powerful than the 2600. Coleco was also pretty business savvy and secured licenses to a number of popular arcade hits. In 1982, they released their masterpiece unto the masses and dubbed it the ColecoVision.

…Right in time for the whole market to crash. Timing is everything folks. Can’t stress that enough in these articles. In any case, here’s the ColecoVision!

ColecoVision
Released: 1982
Generation of Home Consoles: Second
Graphics: Complicated, but we’ll go with 8 bit equivalent.
Rating: Cursed by timing, but a pretty great unit.

Your Vision is Our Vision

The history of Coleco in the video game industry is little more than a blip. They started their short stay in the console world in 1982 and were out by 1985. Had it not been for the video game market crash in 1983, we’d probably still be singing its praises, but unfortunately we don’t. All we are left with is a few distant memories of what might have been, and the occasional reference in nineties rap rock songs.

Only Joe C. Had More Game

Coleco was a well run American company who knew when to cut their losses. The American part is important because the video game crash of 1983 only happened in the United States, really. Japan was still on board with video games and as such the Japanese companies remained. The video game crash also didn’t affect PC game companies too much and it didn’t kill the arcades. So if you made games for those outlets you were fine.

Coleco was none of those things and as such, didn’t survive the storm. Despite early success, and sales of 2 million units, they withdrew from market in 1985 and with it, went the ColecoVision.

I’m sad about too, Monkey. I’m sad too.

Which is a shame! The unit was pretty great. The graphics were a marked improvement over the 2600 and as stated above, Coleco was a savvy firm. They knew the American audience and were wise enough to get some great licensing deals with the big arcade game makers.

Similar to Intellivision, the ColecoVision could be upgraded. The system didn’t last long so there weren’t many parts to choose from, and some of them were just various controllers, such as a steering wheel or trackball. One allowed you to turn ColecoVision into a working computer, which was pretty dope. The pièce de résistance, however, was an Atari 2600 game converter, which allowed the user to play any Atari 2600 game.

Console upgrades is never a good idea, but ColecoVision came close to success!

I mean…Can you imagine? If Playstation released a converter which allowed you to play Mario Odyssey on the PS4, they’d be sued to high heaven. But this was 1982. Atari attempted to sue, but the suit failed because the courts had no case law or precedent to go on. Hell, there wasn’t even a lot of case law about computers, period. Let alone a specialized computer which just played games. There would be soon. Video games were about to become such a huge business that it was inevitable, but for that moment, Coleco won the day.

The end result was that Coleco suddenly had the largest video game library of any game console in the world. Shame the whole industry crashed around them. It was a baller move.

Pictured. What A Baller May Look Like

Destruction of the industry aside, the ColecoVision did manage to put out some good games in their short lifespan. So let’s jump in! Ladies and gentlemen, the TMTT Games list for every console ever proudly presents the top ten games of the ColecoVision.

10. Ladybug. 1982. (Universal)

The “Maze Chase” genre was a staple in video games. The whole world had a touch of the Pac-Man fever and everyone got in on the craze. In this game, you play as a Lady Bug who runs around a maze eating flowers and avoiding various insects. The player had the ability to change the layout of the maze, as certain walls could pivot, adding a bit of strategy. Various flowers also had point multipliers which added to the fun. The game wasn’t a huge arcade hit, but it pushed the Maze Chase genre about as far as it was going to go, and as such, it was a solid game to add to anyone’s ColecoVision collection.

9. Star Wars: The Arcade Game. 1984. (Atari)

Call me old fashioned, but I wish Star Wars would stick to space dog fight simulators, because they’re almost all great. This was the first, a vector graphics rail fighter, and it remains pretty awesome. While Atari made the game for the arcades, Parker Brothers was in charge of the port and made versions for the various consoles of the day. The port for ColecoVision isn’t perfect, but was a remarkably good effort. Mimicking vector graphics ain’t easy, but Parker Brothers managed to do as well as anyone could, despite the limits of the console.

8. Rocky Super Action Boxing. 1983. (Coleco)

Fighting games were in their infancy in 1983, but Coleco knew a trend when they saw it forming. Rocky had just released their third movie in the popular franchise and Coleco got on board with a video game version. As fighting games go, it shows its age, but Coleco really did attempt to make the game as close to actual boxing as they could. In this game of either one or two players, you could choose to be Rocky or Clubber Lang, and fight for the championship belt. You could aim for the body or head, perform blocks, and duck, while moving across three “lanes” in the ring. Winning was either by knock out or a point system based on actual boxing rules.

7. Frenzy. 1982. (Stern Electronics)

This sequel to the game Berzerk, followed the same basic structure as the original. You start off in a room filled with various types of robots and kill them all. There’s no other story and no end game, other than see how long you can survive. Once a room was clear, you moved on the next one. Some rooms had special features which would have effects on the game play, keeping things lively and breaking up the repetition. Fun little Golden Age style game and a pretty great port, all things considered.

6. WarGames. 1984. (Coleco)

Here we have another game based off of a popular movie. WarGames seemed like a natural tie in. In the film, Matthew Broderick accidentally gets an AI to almost start World War 3, thinking that he’s playing a video game. Coleco gives us the game! There’s been a bit of glitch in the NORAD computer. The player has to defend the United States from a fake attack. Your goal is to prevent the AI from launching a real counterstrike against the U.S.S.R. If you succeed, there’s no war and we all live. If the computer launches the nukes, it’s a real war and you lose. It’s fun and plays like an updated version of missile command.

5. Jumpman Jr. 1983 (Epyx)

JMJ was an early platformer, sort of in the style of Donkey Kong. This was the sequel to the original Jumpman. You play as the eponymous Jumpman Jr. and you run and jump around 12 different levels disarming bombs. You also had to avoid various bullets and bad guys. The graphics were limited due to the amount of levels they programmed into the cart, but they were sharp and the game play was remarkably smooth and fun.

4. Venture. 1982. (Exidy)

This was a launch title for the ColecoVision and while it was a port of an arcade game, Venture was actually more suited to home play. Gameplay itself was a mix between Frenzy and Adventure. You start out on a large map, and navigate towards smaller rooms. Once there the screen changes to show said room, and you wander in, kill everyone, and steal the treasure. If you can manage to kill and steal 36 different treasures you win! Fun little game which was just on the precipice of being an RPG and laid some groundwork for actual RPGs which followed.

3. Donkey Kong. 1982. (Nintendo)

Starting off the top 3, we have the pack in game for the ColecoVision and a remarkably good port of the 1981 arcade game. Donkey Kong had gotten extremely popular in the year since its release and both ColecoVision and Atari wanted the home licensing rights. Coleco won out that battle and it was off to the races for the console. Everyone made money on this deal. Coleco even licensed the game to Atari, although only for the older 2600 system, as opposed to the newer 5200. You play as Mario, and you try to save Pauline from the clutches of a large simian. Pauline later went on to become the mayor of New Donk City, and Mario? He did alright.

2. BurgerTime. 1984. (Data East)

ColecoVision was known for making great arcade ports, and this was no exception. BurgerTime for the ColecoVision was arguably the best port of the arcade version, easily outmatching the Atari 2600 and Intellivision versions, both in terms of graphics and gameplay. As in the arcade, you play as Chef Peter Pepper and you need to make burgers. Unfortunately some evil hot dogs want to stop you. You stomp on the ingredients until they fall onto their plates. Great little game and a big hit to boot.

But it wasn’t the best. No sir. That honor goes to the one…the only…

1. Zaxxon. 1982. (Sega)

This was a wonderfully exciting 3/4 perspective isometric shooter, designed for the arcades. Sega wanted this thing to be big. They even had a big TV ad campaign for it, which was literally unheard of at the time. According to the New York Times, it was the first TV commercial for an arcade game. And it worked. Zaxxon in the arcades made bank. So it was little wonder that ports for home consoles were on the way.

The version for the ColecoVision was the only home console release to actually use the isometric display, and it looked and played wonderfully. This was a big coup for the ColecoVision and sales soared. Not just for the game, but for the console as well. Everyone loved it. People STILL love this game, although admittedly, a very certain type of gamer who really understands the classics. Which now includes yourself, you classy mofo.

So that’s the ColecoVision! I hope you enjoyed. Feel free to send me a message if you want to debate video game ranking merits with me. I’m always open to discussion. And as always, it’s cold out there folks. Better to stay inside and play games!

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Philippe L.

About Philippe L.

When not out exploring the stars with his good friend Hotblack Desiato, he makes his living here on Earth keeping other people's money safe from the hands of thieves and spinning the occasional yarn. He enjoys beer and coffee very much, but unfortunately he can't eat shellfish or tomatoes.

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