Philips Videopac G7000 shown playing "Pickaxe Pete"
The Magnavox Odyssey≤, known in Europe as the Philips Videopac G7000, in Brazil as the Philips Odyssey, and also by many other names, was a video game console released in 1978.
Back in the early 1970s, Magnavox was an innovator in the home video game industry. They succeeded in bringing the first home video game system to market, the Odyssey, which was quickly followed by a number of later models, each with a few technological improvements. In 1978 Magnavox, now a subsidiary of North American Philips, released the Odyssey≤, their new second-generation video game console.
The original Odyssey had a number of removable circuit cards that switched between the in-built games, of which there were 10 in Europe and Asia, or 12 in America. The Odyssey≤ followed in the steps of the Fairchild Channel F and Atari 2600 by being designed to play programmable ROM game cartridges. With this improvement, each game could be a completely unique experience, with its own background graphics, foreground graphics, gameplay, scoring, and music. The potential was enormous, as an unlimited number of games could be individually purchased; a game player could purchase a library of videogames tailored to his or her own interest. Unlike any other system at that time, the Odyssey≤ included a full alphanumeric membrane keyboard, which was to be used for educational games, selecting options, or programming. (Philips actually released a game cartridge with the intent of teaching simple computer programming.)
The Odyssey≤ was the first home video game console to introduce what was to become the standard joystick design of the 1970s and 80s: a moderately sized black joystick unit, held in the left hand, with an eight-direction stick that was manipulated with the right hand. In the upper corner of the joystick was a single 'Action' button.
One of the strongest points of the system was its excellent speech synthesis unit, which was released as an add-on for speech, music, and sound-effects enhancement. The area that the Odyssey≤ may well be best remembered for was its pioneering fusion of board and video games: The Master Strategy Series. The first game released was the instant classic Quest for the Rings!, with gameplay somewhat similar to Dungeons & Dragons, and a storyline reminiscent of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
The Odyssey≤ sold moderately well in the US. Even without third-party developers, eventually (by 1983) over a million Odyssey≤ units were sold in the US alone. For quite some time, Odyssey≤ fans griped that there was no third-party support, thus keeping the number of new games very limited. Unbeknownst to American gamers, the success of the Philips Videopac G7000 overseas led to two other companies producing games for it: Parker Brothers released Popeye, Frogger, Q*Bert and Super Cobra, while Imagic released outstanding versions of their hit games Demon Attack and Atlantis. Finally, in 1983 the two Imagic games were brought to the states; these became strong sellers.
In Europe and Brazil, the Odyssey≤ did very well on the market. In Europe, the console was most widely known as the Philips Videopac G7000, or just the Videopac, although branded variants were released in some areas of Europe under the names Radiola Jet 25, Schneider 7000, and Siera G7000. Philips, as Magnavox's European parent company, used their own name rather than Magnavox's for European marketing. A rare model, the Philips Videopac G7200, was only released in Europe; it had a built-in black-and-white monitor. Videopac game cartridges are mostly compatible with American Odyssey≤ units, although some games have color differences and a few are completely incompatible. A number of additional games were released in Europe that never came out in the US.
In Brazil, the console was released as the Philips Odyssey; the Magnavox Odyssey was never released in Brazil, so there was no need to specify a number. Odyssey became much more popular in Brazil than it ever was in the US; tournaments were even held for popular games like K.C.'s Krazy Chase! (Come-Come in Brazil).
The Odyssey≤ was released in Japan in December 1982 by Kōton Trading Toitarii Enterprise (コートン・トレーディング・トイタリー・エンタープライズ, a division of DINGU company) under the name オデッセイ２ (odessei2). "Japanese" versions of the Odyssey≤ and its games consisted of the American boxes with katakana stickers on them and cheaply printed black-and-white Japanese manuals. The initial price for the console was •49,800. It was apparently not very successful; Japanese Odyssey≤ items are now very difficult to find.
|CPU-internal RAM: ||64 bytes ||(1/16 KB) |
|Audio/video RAM: ||128 bytes ||(1/8 KB) |
|BIOS ROM: ||1024 bytes ||(1 KB) |
- Media: 2/4/8 kilobyte ROM cartridge; cartridge slot also used for expansion modules such as:
- The Voice - Speech synthesis
- Chess Module - Increased the Odyssey≤'s computing power such that it could play chess
An open source console emulator for the Odyssey≤ called O2EM is available. O2EM was originally written by Daniel Boris in 1997. Later versions were developed by Andrť de la Rocha and include Philips Videopac G7400 emulation among other enhancements. The emulator works on Linux, Microsoft Windows, DOS and other platforms.
The open source multi-platform multi-system emulator MESS has rudimentary Odyssey≤ support, although many games have problems and 4KB Challenger Series games are completely unsupported.
- Dan B's Odyssey 2 Tech Page (http://www.atarihq.com/danb/o2.shtml) - technical documents on the Odyssey≤'s hardware by the author of O2EM
- The Odyssey2 Homepage! (http://www.classicgaming.com/o2home/) - the largest Odyssey≤ fan site, with lots of information on collectibility and individual games
- O2EM Odyssey2 & Videopac+ Emulator (http://o2em.sourceforge.net/)
- Pictures of the Japanese Odyssey≤ (http://www8.plala.or.jp/tvgamekan/new_page_178.htm)
- Information on the Odyssey≤ in Brazil (http://www.classicgaming.com/o2home/brazil/)