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Bric-a-Brac: I is for...


Also-ran Atari console rival from the days when cartridge-based video games still seemed just about a really good idea. Small controversy was drummed up with ads taking the Big A head on, and claiming technical superiority. But, in classic VHS-Betamax style, the better man lost, thanks to a lacklustre roster of games including Fantastic Voyage knock-off Microsurgeon and Burgertime, wherein giant sausages chased a chef up and down ladders.



  1. Paul

    August 12, 2009 at 2:49 am

    This was superior to Atari, I agree. I remember the football game being as ‘realistic as it got.’ I can’t remember the name of the educational English language game, but know it had monkeys that picked up letters with their tails.
    One of the best Xmas presents I got.

  2. JQW

    August 12, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    The controllers were awful. The disc thingy wasn’t that effective as a joystick, and the main buttons were in the wrong place.

  3. Commander Makara

    September 24, 2009 at 11:55 am

    The Educational English Language game was called – I think – “Word-Fun”. It included 3 games, a Scrabble rip-off with no premium tiles (rubbish), a monkeys picking up letters in the jungle to spell words (not much better) and the excellent word rockets, where one collected vowels from the ground, and fired them at two consonants with a space in between scrolling across the screen.

    The idea was that you had to hit the consonants with your vowel, but you only scored a point if consonant/vowel combo spelled an actual word. E.g. “C _ T” scrolls across the sky. Hit this with an A, O or U (i.e. splelling CAT, COT or CUT) and you gained a point, an I or E would be rejected and bounce off screen. With Rejected vowels bounced off with a satisfyingly comic “boing” sound. First to fifty won.

    My mother worked at none more-cream era telly-shop Radio Rentals, and brought an console with several cartridges home to keep (for free) in about 1984, “Intellivision” already being obsolete. That said, the games weren’t that bad (“Soccer” and the fantastic “Sea Battles” stand out) and the console itself was rare enough to be an exotic novelty for Spectrum owning friends not to scoff.

  4. Adrian

    September 24, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    There was a lot to be said for cartridge based games – they were a lot quicker to load than the cassette tapes that replaced them, as well as being more robust.

  5. Richard Davies

    August 9, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    When Mattel launched this in America they stated that it could be upgradable to a full computer with keyboard.

    The upgrade flopped when test marketed, & Mattel pulled the plug, only to be fined my trading standards for making false claims when launching the original console.

    The controllers supposedly inspired the design of the iPod’s main control (now you know who to blame!).

  6. scott holmes

    November 16, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    still got mine!! also had the ultra voice synthiser box thingy!! but they never brought the games out that worked with it!!

  7. Steve Cooper

    September 17, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    I remember getting an Mattel Intellivision for christmas 1981 I think. Had games like skiing, soccer and golf but my favourites were “advanced dungeons and dragons” which i remember was very good and challanging for me as a 10 yr old.
    The one game everyone loved was horse racing. Great game for many boxing days over next few years where all the adults betting on one of 6 horses and trying to work out the form guides while getting drunk.
    After that remember getting games on birthdays and probably best one was “Tron: Deadly Disks”. Got really good at that game with repeat playing and me and my brother always beating each others high scores . Eventually in the late 80’s one of the disc controllers broke and I sold it for next to nothing to a neighbour, to buy a Commadore 64 , which in hindsight wasn’t a great move as i bet these are worth a fortune on ebay now 🙁

  8. Richard Davies

    September 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    One problem with them was the controllers being hard wired of most models.

    Supposedly Apple were influence by the controller design for the main control on the iPod, so now you know who to blame!

  9. Will M

    September 20, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Cartridge gaming lived on well into the late 90s with the N64. Tapes and then CDs were cheaper to produce, but cartridges were faster loading.

    Ultimately the Playstation could store a lot more content, music and video (90s were multimedia, it wasn’t uncommon for your game to be interrupted by a pre-rendered video), people forgave the loading times – I guess the tape loaders of the C64/Spectrum/Amstrad CPC were still in recent memory (and to be fair CD loading times weren’t as bad as these).

    The switch to higher capacity discs (PS2 was many people’s first DVD player) was the death knell to cartridges. Though I don’t know why they don’t release high capacity SD card based games. Could’ve made the Raspberry Pi a cheap console.

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