Category Archives: ColecoVision

Games for the ColecoVision console.

H.E.R.O., ColecoVision

The ColecoVision version of the classic rescue game, H.E.R.O., looks quite similar to the Commodore 64 version, in that: the graphics are a little rough around the edges.

This being a game from 1984 (and originating on the Atari 2600), the graphic artists can be forgiven for wanting to use every colour on-screen at once. Often, home video game consoles back then had limited palettes and resolutions, and the ColecoVision was something of a leap forward in terms of graphical capabilities, so the guys at The Softworks (who converted this for Activision) tried to “sex-up” the graphics with more ‘textures’ and colours. And the result is a bit of a mess… At least by modern standards.

But don’t let that put you off, because H.E.R.O. on the ColecoVision is arguably the best version of the game around. It feels good, in terms of controls, and is relatively absorbing – even though any appeal will be limited.

More: H.E.R.O. on Wikipedia

Looping, ColecoVision

The ColecoVision conversion of Venture Line‘s Looping is much easier than the arcade original, which is a relief because the original is mind-bendingly hard.

This version is much slower, allowing for more thought before reacting. But not much thought – Looping is still quite difficult to play.

As good as Looping is: its lasting appeal is limited because the level itself is so short. I’m not even sure if there’s a second level. I’ve never seen it. Same goes for the arcade game.

More: Looping at arcade-museum.com

Donkey Kong, ColecoVision

This ColecoVision conversion of Nintendo‘s classic Donkey Kong is famous for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the deal made between Coleco and Nintendo was unusual to say the least, because Nintendo were demanding a lot, and got it. Secondly, ColecoVision Donkey Kong is known for its high quality – it easily beats any other version produced at the time (except the arcade original). Thirdly, the game was never made available as a stand-alone cartridge release – it was only available as a pack-in game with the console. But it sure as hell helped sell a lot of consoles…

My only criticism of Coleco Donkey Kong is that it is missing a level. The 50m ‘Cement Factory’ level is missing and there are only three screens in this, instead of the four seen in the arcade game. In the world of tiny ROM cartridges, I guess you can’t have everything…

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donkey_Kong_(video_game)

Boulder Dash, ColecoVision

The ColecoVision conversion of Boulder Dash is really quite wonderful. It was converted by Micro Lab and published on the Microfun label in 1984.

Graphically, the game is well-defined and nicely-coloured. Gameplay-wise, it is responsive and rewarding. All the classic Boulder Dash levels are present and correct and the programmers have resisted the temptation to redesign them.

For my money: one of the best games on the ColecoVision console. Boulder Dash generally works well on whatever format it is running on, and this ColecoVision version is the bee’s knees.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boulder_Dash

Spy Hunter, ColecoVision

Coleco‘s 1984 conversion of Bally Midway‘s classic Spy Hunter is a bit of a pale imitation of the arcade parent.

Graphically, it’s a little bland, but the scrolling is fast (I won’t say ‘smooth’, but it’s not jerky) and the sprites and backgrounds are colourful.

There are no gears in this version; acceleration is basically ‘push forward’ and brake is ‘pull back’, which makes play easier. Maybe too easy. There don’t seem to be any enemy helicopters either, which is a bit of an oversight.

ColecoVision Spy Hunter is reasonably enjoyable. In 1984 most Spy Hunter fans would have been pleased with this at home. Now, though, things have moved on a bit and those rose-tinted spectacles are cracking a little.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spy_Hunter

Gateway To Apshai, ColecoVision

Gateway To Apshai is sometimes described as a Roguelike RPG, but it doesn’t have randomly generated dungeons – they’re set, in number order, and there are a lot of them.

According to the ColecoVision manual, each of the eight levels in Gateway To Apshai has 99 dungeons, and each dungeon has approximately 60 rooms, making over 40,000 rooms in total.

The manual advises that you make a map of each dungeon and refer to it by number. That way all the items will be where you mark them on your map the next time you try that dungeon. If Gateway To Asphai was truly ‘Roguelike’ then you wouldn’t be able to do that – the random nature of Roguelike games would never give you the same map twice.

Regardless, Gateway To Apshai is a brilliant game. There’s something very compelling about it, even though it looks very simple. I could easily sit and play it all day…

The Apshai series – by Epyx – is quite famous because it was one of the very first graphical Role-Playing Games ever released for home computers, and has appeared on a variety of different systems. First there was Temple of Apshai on the TRS-80 in 1979; followed by a bunch of enhanced conversions; then Gateway To Asphai for the C64, ColecoVision and Atari 8-bit family; then The Temple of Apshai Trilogy with improved graphics and gameplay. Gateway To Asphai is actually a prequel to Temple of Apshai, but I’m not sure how that works because it’s hardly a story-driven game.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gateway_to_Apshai

Super Cobra, ColecoVision

Like the MSX version of Super Cobra this 1983 ColecoVision conversion is also flawed.

For starters: the levels just repeat themselves over and over – except in different colours. It unfortunately makes the game very boring to play. You keep thinking: “I’m sure I’ve seen this bit before…” And you have, because the same hills and tunnels keep appearing, time and time again.

It’s a pity because ColecoVision Super Cobra could (should) have been good – better than the MSX version anyway. The scrolling is smooth and the graphics are well-defined and are reasonably colourful, but they are wasted on unnecessarily repetitive gameplay. A little bit of design ingenuity and developer Parker Brothers would surely have solved that.

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Cobra

BurgerTime, ColecoVision

Mattel Electronics produced this ColecoVision console conversion of BurgerTime in 1984.

It is arguably the most authentic – and most impressive-looking – of the early console conversions of BurgerTime and it retains the vertical screen-style design of the arcade game levels (which is most welcome).

The sprites are a little flickery but don’t detract from the game too much. The famous BurgerTime tune is present and correct (well, mostly correct – it seems a bit out-of-time in places) and sounds like it’s even in stereo.

ColecoVision BurgerTime is a quality conversion and is still fun to play now.

BurgerTime versions on The King of Grabs:
Arcade, Apple II, Intellivision, PC, Atari 2600, ColecoVision,
MSX, Famicom Disk System

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BurgerTime