I’m going way, way back to 1982 and the second video gaming console generation for my console of the month for March. The Colecovision was the arcade enthusiast’s console of choice thanks to its arcade faithful renditions of cabinet games big (e.g. Donkey Kong, Zaxxon) and small (e.g Ladybug, Cosmic Avenger). It was graphically superior to many other consoles released earlier in the 2nd generation such as the Atari VCS/2600, Odyssey 2 and Intellivision with comparable graphics and sound to the Atari 5200. Due to the video game crash of ’83, the Colecovision had a short run in the console wars of the early 80’s and as a result, a relatively small (approx. 145) library of games, with the vast majority being arcade ports.
The console itself is a typical 2nd gen sized black rectangle with (thankfully) no woodgrain bling added for effect. The front decorative silver plate has the distinctive rainbow colored “Colecovision” name emblazoned on it. The front is also where the expansion port is housed. However, the system’s two controller ports would plug into the top of the console, which seems like an odd design choice. Combine questionable controller location with short controller cords and you have a system you cannot be too far away from while you’re actually playing. Honestly, this lends itself to the short attention span style gaming that was popular at the time. Back in the early 80’s, you’d only play a cart 10-20 min at a time before you’d pop it out and plug in a new cartridge so being in close proximity to your console wasn’t a big deal. The controller location and appearance are somewhat reminiscent of Intellivision’s which was released a couple years prior. Both are meant to be held vertically in your hand while using your other hand to manipulate the joystick. The controller also includes two “fire” buttons on the side as well as a numerical keypad. The keypad could utilize game overlays to provide functions for the various number keys. The keypad is also used to select the various in game options such as number of players or difficulty level. Instead of a flat circular disk like the Intellivision, the Colecovision used a short, wide joystick/dial. I prefer this style over the flat disk but honestly, all of these 2nd generation controllers were stopgaps until the controller and D-pad were revolutionized a few years later with the North American release of the NES. Does the controller feel amazing? No. Is it worse than many of it’s competitors of the time? Also, no. Colecovision wasn’t likely interested in revolutionizing the home video gaming industry. I think they just wanted to offer a high quality product that arcade gamers would choose over the dated Atari 2600.
I picked up my Colecovision during the flurry of 2nd generation console buying in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. I honestly wasn’t aware of the Colecovision at the time it was out but after a little research into the various consoles that were released in that pre-NES era, I quickly knew this was going to be one I needed in my collection. At the time, re-creating the arcade experience at home was the largest driving force for most, if not all, of the home console manufacturers. The ones that were first or did it best were meant to survive, even if that survival was short lived. Colecovision sold a respectable amount of consoles in it’s short lifespan so the console itself isn’t terribly difficult to find online but you may have more difficulty finding one in the wild as it had 3-4 fewer years on the market before the crash essentially eliminated Coleco from the video gaming business all together. Despite their failure at gaining a foothold in the business for long term success, Coleco can be assured that they will not only be known for their Cabbage Patch Dolls but also for a pretty cool and kick-ass video gaming console that has its fair share of enthusiasts.
Currently in my collection:
- Console with original power cord and RF cable. Missing the original “Coleco” RF TV/cable to game converter, using a standard Radio Shack version instead.
- 2 controllers