Head 2 Head: Donkey Kong – 2600 vs ColecoVision vs Intellivision
Nov09

Head 2 Head: Donkey Kong – 2600 vs ColecoVision vs Intellivision

Another Head 2 Head and another classic title to savour. Released in arcade format in 1981 and designed by Nintendo genius Shigeru Miyamoto, this game has since become one of the iconic games of the 80s. Later to be released on almost every format imaginable including: Amiga 500, Apple II, Atari 7800, Commodore 64, Commodore VIC-20, NES, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, MSX, Atari 8-bit family and Nintendo 64. Graphics When judging which of the three versions is the best graphically there can be no doubt of the winner, so I will firstly discuss the runners-up. Firstly the Atari 2600 version, which in fairness does the comparatively primitive hardware some justice with good character graphics (especially Mario) and excellent games speed. As is often the case with a 2600 game, there is a charm to the simplicity of the graphics that just ‘works’. Not so with the Intellivision version. Mario is yellow for f*cks sake… this is a licensed version of a Nintendo game and the game character is the wrong colour? Oh wait, he does have a cap on… that’s ok then. Donkey Kong is also green, which is obviously just wrong although the girders have a smidge more authenticity to them than the 2600 version. Enough about those two, lets talk about the clear winner here. Graphically, the ColecoVision version of DK is as close as you can get to the original coin-op on a pre-NES home console. Everything (except girder layout on some levels) is as near to perfect as you would wish, with almost pixel perfect recreations of all the characters in the original arcade game. For 1982 this was a triumph and it’s no wonder they had this as the pack-in game on ColecoVision’s launch. First round to ColecoVision. Sound The Intellivision version of this game is a travesty to the eardrums, with beeps that belong in another game and no original sounds at all. The Atari doesn’t fair much better on the original sounds but does sound a whole lot better than the Intellivision at least. Another victory to the ColecoVision with it’s true-to-arcade sound effects and music. Gameplay Intellivision plays like a dog, simple as that. Poor collision detection and hit and miss ladder climbs make it no fun to play. In contrast, I really enjoy DK on the Atari 2600, it just plays really well with smooth graphics, a good difficulty setting and great collision detection. ColecoVision has this one licked too though, it plays as well as it looks and sounds, just a pity they never produced an arcade stick for it! Judge for yourself! Watch our Review Video Now featuring...

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Head 2 Head: Q-Bert – 2600 vs ColecoVision vs Intellivision vs G7000
Jul13

Head 2 Head: Q-Bert – 2600 vs ColecoVision vs Intellivision vs G7000

Third in my new series of face-offs between classic games on rival consoles. The aim of Head2Head is not to say which console I think is the greatest (all consoles have their own particular strengths and weaknesses), but rather to examine the same game released for rival consoles and to say in the fairest possible way which I think was the best at the time. In this episode we feature the isometric craziness that is Q-Bert, originally developed by Gottlieb and ported to home formats by Parker Bros. First released in 1982 on the Atari VCS and released the following year on ColecoVision, Intellivision and Videopac. It has since seen versions on Commodore 64 (1983), NES (1989), Game Boy (1989), PlayStation (1999), Game Boy Color (2000) and Dreamcast (2000). Graphics If we are to start with the worst then there is no doubt that the G7000 version has got to be first, just what were they thinking? The Philips guys haven’t even made an effort to represent the games fundamental feature; it’s isometric cubes. Instead we are given small rectangles. Not to mention the game characters have been re-invented (what is that thing that looks like a hand?). Lame. The Atari 2600 version’s graphics aren’t bad at all considering the units technical limitations, with a decent rendition of the pyramid (although a bit two dimensional looking for me) and game characters. The technical limitations of the machine do mean that the pyramid is only 6 blocks high, and 1 less row of blocks makes for a much smaller play area, this problem also afflicts the Intellivision version. The 2600 version is also the only version of the four that doesn’t indicate what colour to change a block to. The Intellivision version looks a bit ‘squashed’ with the ‘cubes’ looking taller than they are wide, but it’s colourful and the characters are good considering the resolution. Only the ColecoVision version matches the arcade game with any accuracy with a full size pyramid (OK so the G7000 has but we’ve discounted that right?), accurate character sprites and arcade-like resolution. Graphically, ColecoVision is easily the winner. Sound The G7000 was never going to cut it in the sound department and is the clear loser. The 2600 fairs a bit better with some good sound effects but its TIA chip isn’t up to emulating Arcade sounds accurately and it just doesn’t sound anything like the original. The Intellivision and ColecoVision are in a different league here. Right from the opening music they both sound impressive with the ColecoVision making some ground during gameplay. Another win for ColecoVision. Gameplay With the G7000 being handicapped...

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Head 2 Head: River Raid – 2600 vs ColecoVision vs Intellivision
Jun28

Head 2 Head: River Raid – 2600 vs ColecoVision vs Intellivision

Number two in my new series of face-offs between classic games on rival consoles. The aim of Head2Head is not to say which console I think is the greatest (all consoles have their own particular strengths and weaknesses), but rather to examine the same game released for rival consoles and to say in the fairest possible way which I think was the best at the time. In this episode we feature the smash hit River Raid by Activision, first released in 1982 on the Atari VCS but later to be rolled out on many platforms including the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and MSX. Graphics All three versions of this game not only play remarkably different but look very different too. The stark difference in hardware capabilities can be seen most when comparing the 2600 and ColecoVision versions, with the CBS made machine having much higher resolution. Nevertheless, the Coleco version feels like a lazy port in many ways with lack-lustre sprites and sparse looking screens. The Intellivision version is somewhere in between the two resolution-wise but fairs much better with well designed sprites and explosions and clever collision detection whereby you can fly over land only to be destroyed if you hit a tree or other obstacle (something which the other two versions lack). The 2600 version is by far the simplest but that doesn’t make it the worst, yes the scenery is square and symmetrical but in not trying to be too clever it has a certain graphical appeal that the Coleco and Intellivision versions don’t have. All in all though, and most surprisingly, it’s a win for the Intellivision. Sound This one was between the Intellivision and 2600 version from the go. The ColecoVision plane has the worst sounding jet engine ever (white noise) and it only gets worse when you accelerate. The terrible sound continues with the firing and explosions sounds. The Intellivision’s sounds are actually quite good, I especially like the explosion noises but the lowly 2600 has the best sound overall with a great jet engine noise that pulsates and sounds great when accelerating along with decent explosions and firing noises. Therefore it’s a win for the 2600. Gameplay As all three machines use very different controls this was a hard thing to judge but the Atari version of River Raid is by far the hardest. The pseudo-random AI of the enemies in the Coleco and Intellivision versions are far easier to predict and in many instances they are just static and pose no threat. It also has the most thirsty jet, with gathering fuel being one of the most important aspects of the...

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