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ColecoVision Lives with a New Flashback Video Game Console

Written By: E. Thomas

Dec 10th, 2014

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Introduction:

In 1982 Coleco Industries released the ColecoVision video game console. It quickly became one of the most popular game systems of the 1980's. The ColecoVision was an instant hit selling over 500,000 units in it's first six months. It was widely praised for having near arcade quality graphics and a robust library of games. The system was helped greatly by a roster of incredible titles that included Zaxxon, Jungle Hunt and Donkey Kong, the latter of which became the killer app for the new console. Over the past several decades ColecoVision nostalgia has grown to a fever pitch. It now has a large and dedicated fan community. New games are still being produced for the classic console almost 35 years after it's initial release. Now one company has revived this legendary console and brought it back to the living room where it belongs.

AtGames is well known for their popular series of plug and play video game consoles. The company has produced Atari, Sega and Intellivision consoles as well as a series of handheld game systems. Their latest creation is the ColecoVision Flashback. It's an ambitious attempt to recreate one of the most popular classic video game consoles.

The Hardware:

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As you can see the ColecoVision Flashback successfully captures the look and feel of the original console. It's a sharply designed piece of video game hardware. The design plays on the nostalgic feelings of those who loved it's legendary forefather. AtGames has done a great job in creating this modern update. The system itself is lightweight and very compact.

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Original ColecoVision Controller VS. ColecoVision Flashback Controller

Here we have an image showing the original ColecoVision controller along side the new ColecoVision Flashback controller. As you can see the new controller is just a bit smaller than the classic version. There are however some other changes that will be surely be noticed by hardcore fans. First, the joystick knob is much lower on the new controller. The buttons also work differently than they do on the original controller. The original controller has springy buttons that must be squeezed all the way in to fire. The Flashback controller has buttons that click when pushed all the way down. I actually prefer the buttons on the Flashback controller. The new design makes rapid button pressing a much easier task.

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The system also includes several controller overlays that are used with various games. These overlays fit over the keypad on the controller. They provide specific game related functions for each title. I have always been a big fan of this concept. It allows for more complexity and depth within the game. It also makes simple functions such as selecting the number of players and the level of difficulty a breeze.

Opening The Box: The Full Package

In this brief unboxing video we take a look inside the box and show you everything you get in the full package. We also take a close up look at the hardware and accessories. Overall the system includes the base unit, two controllers, an AC adapter, an instruction manual and a set of ten controller overlays. The hardware connects to your TV using a standard yellow and white AV plug.

The Games:

The ColecoVision was well known for it's great library of arcade hits. The new system comes with 60 built in games. This includes dozens of classic arcade titles including Zaxxon, Jungle Hunt, Choplifter and so many more. The most noticable absence is Donkey Kong, the most popular title for the original console. I suspect that licensing difficulties probably had something to do with it's exclusion. The system also includes 8 new games that were not released during the 1980's. Some of these "homebrew" games are surprisingly good quality. The two stand out titles are Mecha-8 and Princess Quest. Both of these games make a great addition to an already outstanding collection of games.

Original ColecoVision Games:

Alphabet Zoo
Aquattack
Artillery Duel
BlackJack/Poker
Blockade Runner
Brain Strainers
Bump 'n' Jump
Choplifter!
Cosmic Avenger
Dragonfire
Evolution
Fathom
Flipper Slipper
Fortune Builder
Frantic Freddy
Frenzy

Gateway to Apshai
Gust Buster
Jumpman Junior
Jungle Hunt
Miner 2049er
Montezuma's Revenge
Moonsweeper
Motocross Racer
Mountain King
Nova Blast
Oil’s Well
Omega Race
Pepper II
Quest for Quintana Roo
Rolloverture
Sammy Lightfoot

Sir Lancelot
Slurpy
Space Fury
Space Panic
Squish ‘Em Featuring Sam
Super Cross Force
Telly Turtle
The Dam Buster
The Heist
Threshold
Tomarc the Barbarian
Tournament Tennis
Venture
War Room
Wing War
Zaxxon

New ColecoVision Flashback Games:

Bankruptcy Builder
Destructor (Standard Controller Edition)
Mecha-8
Module Man

Monster Masher
Ms. Space Fury
Princess Quest
Schlange CV

Search for the Stolen Crown Jewels
Search for the Stolen Crown Jewels 2
Search for the Stolen Crown Jewels 3
Shunting Puzzle

Pros and Cons:

The ColecoVision Flashback has many things going for it but there are a few cons that need to be addressed. First up is the emulation quality of the games. This console is built around system on a chip hardware. This is basically one computer chip that emulates all of the functions of the original hardware. While this is a great solution for creating budget priced hardware it also means that sometimes games don't look or sound exactly like the real thing. Games like Cosmic Avenger and Zaxxon are running a bit too fast. Zaxxon also has sound issues that hurt the overall gaming experience. Despite these few exceptions most of the games are very close to the original version.  

Another problem is with the controller itself. While it looks and feels like the original controller it's functionality is somewhat limited. The buttons are great but the joystick leaves a lot to be desired. The biggest problem is with diagonal movement. The joystick is very low compared to the original. You must also push really hard to move diagonally. This can be a big problem in games that rely heavily on 8-way movement Casual gamers will probably not notice the controller issues but hardcore fans will definitely take exception.

Despite it's flaws the ColecoVision Flashback is still a good product. We truly hope that the system is a success as it's one step away from perfection. Hopefully if this unit sells AtGames will consider making a new version in the future. The company has made several different variations of their Atari Flashback line. There is always room for improvement. With any luck a new version of the ColecoVision Flashback will fix the minor issues with gameplay and control. It would also be incredible if the company could license the ColecoVision version of Donkey Kong. That last wish is a bit of a long shot but it's not outside of the real of possibility.

The Final Word:

Overall the ColecoVision Flashback is a good product sold at a great price. With 60 built in games you really do get a lot of value for your money. ColecoVision fans and retro gamers will definitely want to add this system to their collection. Casual gamers and people new to retro gaming will also enjoy all the many classic arcade games bundled with the system. There are many familiar titles that will draw in those looking for a classic gaming fix. If you loved the ColecoVision as a kid you will have lots of fun with the new ColecoVision Flashback. If you're new to the system this is a great introduction to one of the best consoles of the 1980's.

About The Author: Elliott S. Thomas is a hardcore retro gaming enthusiast. His retro gaming collection could fill a small house. He actually has a few rare ColecoVision prototype games in his collection.  

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