Reviewed: April 18, 2005
Reviewed by: Richard Cross

Crave Entertainment

Realtime Associates

Released: February 2, 2004
Genre: Arcade
Players: 6
ESRB: Everyone


Supported Features:

  • HDTV 480p

  • Retro gaming has really gained in popularity over the past 10 years. The Atari 2600 console was really my first “hard core” gaming experience. My neighbor and I would play the Atari for hours, or until our thumbs bled. Back in the day, the 16-bit graphics were lame (compared to present day) and my friends and I were always waiting for the next best thing to come out. Well, the next big thing that was released was the Intellivision Console by Mattel Electronics way back in 1980.

    The specs for the original Intellivision console are listed below:
    General Instruments 16-bit 1Mhz 1610 microprocessor; 4K internal ROM operating system; 2K RAM; two hand controllers with 12 button keypad, 4 action keys, 16-direction disc; 159 by 96 pixel background resolution; 16 colors; 8 moving objects; three-channel music generator; this console plays external ROM game cartridges.

    I never really thought that I would be interested in retro gaming, but things change as you get older. You see, I still have my original Intellivision console from 1980 up in the attic. It has been with me for many, many years and I just can’t seem to part with it. The kicker is that I can’t remember the last time it worked! It has been nonfunctional for at least the past 10 years, maybe even longer. I even have a collection of 64 games out of the 125 that were available for it. The game boxes contain the cartridge, user manual, and even the overlays. I have been too busy to spend the time to repair the original unit, and now with Intellivision Lives! for the Xbox console, I will never have to repair it!

    There are over 60 of the original games included in the XBox version. I have listed the included games below:

    Combat & Sorcery
    Armor Battle
    Battle Tanks
    B-17 Bomber
    Hover Force
    Sea Battle
    Sub Hunt
    Thunder Castle
    Tower of Doom

    Number Jungle
    Space Cadet
    Hypnotic Lights
    Magic Carousel
    Gaming & Strategy
    Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack
    Las Vegas Roulette
    Royal Dealer

    Factor Fun
    Frog Bog
    Math Master
    Memory Fun
    Sharp Shot
    Word Hunt
    Word Rockets
    Bomb Squad
    Buzz Bombers
    Racing Cars
    Night Stalker
    Shark! Shark!
    Thin Ice

    Space Armada
    Space Battle
    Space Hawk
    Space Spartans
    Star Strike
    Track & Field

    The developers must have spent a lot of time on the control system that has been implemented on the Xbox console. It must not have been easy taking the existing 12-button keypad unit from the Intellivision and converting it over to the Xbox controller, but the designers had a brilliant idea when they created a pop-up Intellivision controller with the game overlays that the user can display on the television screen anytime during gameplay.

    This design has its good points and bad. The upside is that the user can bring up the keypad anytime during gameplay. The downside is that it takes up much-needed space on the television screen. It doesn’t really matter where you place the on-screen keypad, it ends up blocking portions of the screen most of the time.

    The games play just like the originals once you get used to the Xbox controller layout. If the Intellivision was before your time or you just never played the Intellivision then you shouldn’t really have to worry about getting used to the new controller layout. I have to admit that the Xbox controllers, like the PS2 controllers, were much better than the original Intellivision controllers. The 12 touchpads on the Intellivision controllers didn’t make for quick reaction times, but they sure worked well for those button-mashing games of yesteryear.

    High-end graphics should definitely not be expected on a system that is more than 20 years old. However, if you have previously played with the Intellivision console then you will be surprised at the graphics in this game. The graphics exactly duplicate the original game system, right down to the blocky, hard to read, text.

    My oldest son is 5 years old and he is very used to the high-end graphics of the Xbox system. I was very surprised when I loaded up Intellivision Lives and started playing Night Stalker. My son came right over and asked me what I was playing. He said, “Dad, is that a new game? It looks really cool, dad!”. And then, of course, the next question was “Dad, can I play?”. So I handed over the controller and explained the buttons to him and off he went. We both played that game for the next 30 minutes, and then we took a look at some of the other 60 games in the collection.

    I was so surprised that he didn’t really care how the graphics looked. That evening I learned from my son that many of those old games are just plain fun. Many of these games were easy enough for my 5 year old to play on his own, giving me the time to write this article. Just remember, great graphics don’t always make for a good game.

    Does anyone remember the IntelliVoice module? This module was around $70 when it was new, later dropping in price to be included for free with the purchase of a new system. The IntelliVoice module added a lot to the original Intellivision system. The addition of synthesized voice was truly groundbreaking back in the days of the Intellivision; the Atari 2600 didn’t even offer it. Of course this made for great bragging rights when my friends and I compared our video game systems. The audio in most of these games reflects the original audio on the Intellivision system. It was really cool when I started to play B-17 Bomber and the first thing I heard was the male synthesized voice say “B-17 Bomber”.

    I have seen this title for sale for as low as $20. For those of you that loved the Intellivision system, this is a must buy for the Xbox. There is little value to those of you that haven’t played the Intellivision. You will be frustrated with the control system, the graphics, and the sound. If you have young children and you don’t want them playing the most recent FPS (First Person Shooters) with huge amounts of blood and gore, then I would definitely recommend Intellivision Lives. There are a few gambling titles in the collection, but most children won’t find those as fun and interesting as the space, fantasy, and sports titles.

    Retro gaming is definitely something that not everyone enjoys. I remember my days playing the original Pong, the Odyssey 2, and of course the Atari 2600. I would love to see someone release a collection of Atari 2600 hits. I just hope it includes my all-time favorite, Chopper Command.

    If you are interested in retro gaming be sure to pick up this title. This title brought back quite a few great childhood memories. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many hours I spent in front of the television playing many of these titles with my friends. The best thing about these titles was that I didn’t have to practice them in order to beat my son. He seems to pick up any of the newer Xbox titles very quickly and it doesn’t take him very long to whip me in them. Like any good father, I congratulate him for a job well done. Of course he doesn’t know that I stay up all hours of the night practicing just so I can keep the edge on him.