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INTELLIVISION

Activision Titles for Intellivision



ACTIVISION GAMES FOR INTELLIVISION

In 1979, Activision was founded to produce titles for the Atari 2600, becoming the first of the video game third-party publishers. It was also the first to aggressively raid its competitors for programmers. After Mattel Electronics introduced Intellivision in 1980, Activision sought out experienced programmers from APh Technology Consulting and Mattel to work on Intellivision games.

Peter Kaminski was recruited from APh; at Activision he programmed Intellivision River Raid. John Sohl and Steve Montero joined Activision after designing games at Mattel. (Ironically, neither completed an Intellivision title before Activision pulled the plug on Intellivision development in 1983.)

But Activision's biggest recruitment coup came when the senior programmers at APh left to form their own company, Cheshire Engineering. Activision was the highest bidder in securing Cheshire's services to create original Intellivision games (Activision's in-house Intellivision titles were conversions of Atari 2600 games).

Cheshire designed six original games for Intellivision: Beamrider, The Dreadnaught Factor, Worm Whomper, Cloud Nine, RocketBall and Towerquest. The first three of these were released; the second three were switched late 1983 from Intellivision to Colecovision before being abandoned in 1984 cutbacks.

To avoid a lawsuit for stealing corporate secrets, Activision was careful to demonstrate that it already had the knowledge to program for Intellivision (through reverse-engineering) before hiring anyone from APh or Mattel. The former APh and Mattel programmers were told that they were being hired only for their experience, not their knowledge. In other words, they couldn't use any features of the operating system (the Exec) that Activision didn't specifically know and tell them about.

This was particularly ironic for David Rolfe of Cheshire. At APh, Dave wrote the Exec; now he had to feign ignorance of what it did. He poked fun at this in his code for Beamrider. In copying Activision's instructions for setting up the initial game parameters, he commented the code with notes such as "The following instructions do magic things" and "I wonder what THIS does" and simply "?????".

Without the overhead of hardware production and game licenses like Atari, Mattel Electronics and Coleco were committed to, Activision was in a better position to weather the industry crash of late 1983. In fact, after Mattel Electronics closed, several of the Blue Sky Rangers were hired by Activision. Activision also acquired rival third-party publisher Imagic.

Even Activision had to scale back dramatically as the industry continued to drop in 1984. All console titles were cancelled in favor of computer games exclusively. Activision managed to survive the lean years of the late 1980s. And with the resurgence of video games and growth of computer games in the 1990s, Activision reemerged as a major publisher.

In 1998, Activision came full circle, releasing Activision Classics - a PlayStation collection of its original Atari 2600 games.

In 1999, Activision made a deal with Intellivision Productions, Inc. to release the Mattel Electronics/INTV library of games on its Intellivision Classics collection for PlayStation. In the same agreement, Intellivision Productions acquired the Activision and Imagic libraries to release on its October 2000 Intellivision Rocks! collection for Windows and Mac.

FUN FACT: David Rolfe (Beamrider) shares this anecdote:

"At Cheshire Engineering we made a deal in late 1982 to produce games for Activision. We attended C.E.S. in January of 1983 (Las Vegas) as guests of Activision. Their most current release was Dave Crane's 'Decathlon,' and this was heavily promoted - in fact, I still have a flashy promotional jacket.

"You may recall that the Decathlon game involved guiding the screen figure through a series of athletic events. You advanced him by wiggling the Atari 2600 joystick back and forth as rapidly as possible. This was an unusual thing to do with a joystick, and users found the most effective way to achieve maximum motion was to sit on a chair and hold the base of the joystick firmly between their thighs, and then to hold the joystick itself with their hands for the purpose of wiggling it.

"I remember walking into the Activision hospitality suite and seeing a roomful of people trying the game. At first glance, the view was rather disturbing: A cluster of guys, seated, staring intently at a TV monitor, hands firmly grasping a protrusion at the crotch area, wiggling furiously. I recall saying to the Cheshire person I walked in with, in mock shock, 'What the hell's going on in here, anyway?' He shot back, 'Nothing much...just a bunch of geeks playing, ah, Dick-athlon.'"


Beamrider

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [ACTIVISION #M-005]
Produced by Cheshire Engineering for Activision
Design/Program: David Rolfe

Play this game on Intellivision Rocks for Windows & Mac!
Play the ColecoVision version of this game on ColecoVision Hits for Windows!

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (Fall/Winter 1983)
An impenetrable shield of light, 99 sectors deep, is encompassing the planet. You, alone, must cruise from beam to beam, casting lariats of laser bolts into white saucers, red zig bombs, yellow chirpers and more! The quest: to penetrate the shield and restore space exploration to the planet. You have the skill! You have the daring! You are Beamrider!

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Beamrider was an original Intellivision game programmed at Cheshire Engineering under contract to Activision. Inspiration for the game came to David Rolfe one day as he was leaning back in his chair staring at the ceiling. Suddenly the receding grid of acoustical tiles became an outer space playing field.

Activision later released versions of Beamrider for Atari 2600, Atari 5200 and ColecoVision.

PLAYING TIPS: From designer Dave Rolfe in the Beamrider instruction manual:

"Greetings from sector 26 and moving! If you want to make it to the outer sectors, pay attention to these tips.

"First of all, don't hold down the disc. Maintain precise control by learning to TAP the disc to move a single beam at a time. And stay near the center beams so you won't get boxed into a corner with nowhere to run.

"Zap the white enemy saucers as early in their approach as possible. And check this out: You can hit them when they're slightly off the beam, before they can drop their missiles.

"When you see a yellow rejuvenator, don't abandon all caution as you move to catch it, or you'll likely wreck your ship. If an invulnerable object is blocking it, you can use a torpedo to blast it out of the way. Then, catch the rejuvenator. But remember, you only have three torpedoes and they're your only weapon against the Sector Sentinel.

"And while we're on the subject, when the Sentinel is about to approach, don't sit on the beam you plan to shoot from. Green Blockers will swarm onto it immediately! Instead, wait on a beam you're not going to shoot from (like the one nearest the Sentinel's first sighting). As soon as the Blockers are 'locked' onto that beam, zip over to an unblocked beam and torpedo the ship.

"Last, but not least, take time to notice the enemy attack movements. They generally follow a pattern of motion that allows you to anticipate many of their moves."

FUN FACT: Players who sent a photo to Activision showing a score over 60,000 on level 20 or above received an "Activision Beamriders" emblem.

FUN FACT: The Activision instruction booklets included playing tips signed by the programmer. David Rolfe wasn't sure he wanted his signature in the hands of hundreds of thousands of video game players, so he had another programmer sign his name in the Beamrider booklet.

AWARDS: Video Review magazine named Beamrider "Best Cartridge Game of the Year" in its April 1984 issue. It quoted its earlier review (12/83) by Ken Uston: "Beamrider is a space shoot-out - but not your ordinary space shoot-out....The torpedoes give such an authentic 3D feeling that they're a joy to launch just to watch them progress into space. The Gargon explosion is noisy, colorful and fun just to observe. It takes a while to get hooked on Beamrider, but the addiction will eventually set in among space shooters. Beamrider has found a niche."



Cloud Nine

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [ACTIVISION UNFINISHED]
Produced by Cheshire Engineering for Activision
Design/Program: Kevin Miller

GAME DESCRIPTION
A flying/sliding maze game played amid the clouds.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Cloud Nine was in the early stages of programming in late 1983 when Activision pulled the plug on Intellivision development. The game continued in development as a Colecovision title until it was cancelled outright in 1984 along with all other console titles.



The Dreadnaught Factor

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [ACTIVISION #M-004]
Produced by Cheshire Engineering for Activision
Design/Program: Tom Loughry

Play this game on Intellivision Rocks for Windows & Mac!

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (Fall/Winter 1983)
It's the most terrifying space siege ever to rock the universe! The dreadnaught's approach is awesome to the eye - 10,000 times the weight of your tiny hyperfighter, 100 times its size. Your mission is to stop it before it enters your stargate and destroys the planet Terra. And, if you succeed, 100 other dreadnaughts loom on the horizon. Strategy now. Courage forever with the Dreadnaught Factor.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
The Dreadnaught Factor was an original Intellivision game programmed at Cheshire Engineering under contract to Activision. Activision later released a version of The Dreadnaught Factor for Atari 5200.

PLAYING TIPS: From designer Tom Loughry in the Dreadnaught Factor instruction manual:

"I have found that there are several strategies you can use to destroy the Zorban Dreadnaughts. In fact, your attack plans should vary depending on the class of the approaching dreadnaught and the stage of battle. Here are some tips to help you through any phase of the game.

"First of all, no matter what the circumstances, never attack a dreadnaught head-on. Their fire rate is too overwhelming at any game level. I strongly suggest either continually zigzagging back and forth over the dreadnaught during your attack passes, or dipping in from above or below the dreadnaught. Fire your weapons and accelerate away from its direct line of fire.

"Also, it is critical to keep track of the dreadnaught's distance from the stargate. If it's closer than 50 parsecs, then try to bomb as many engines as possible to slow it down, and if it's closer than 30 parsecs, then immediately destroy its silos. That way, Terra is safe even if the dreadnaught reaches the stargate - unless you lose all your hyperfighters.

"Find out which dreadnaught weapons give you the most difficulty and eliminate them first. But, remember, the only way to ultimately defeat a dreadnaught is to bomb all of its energy vents. Don't waste time or attack passes trying to destroy every target.

"One final tip: your laser bolts destroy dreadnaught artillery that is blue or yellow, and your strontium bombs destroy the artillery that is black or red."

FUN FACT: Players who sent a photo to Activision showing that they had destroyed the entire dreadnaught fleet on level 4 or above received an "Activision Dreadnaught Destroyer" emblem.

FUN FACT: The Dreadnaught Factor was a favorite game of Bill Fisher's over at rival Mattel Electronics. He was so good at the game that he started getting bored playing through the early easier levels. To solve the problem, he hacked the game code to create a harder version of the cartridge. That version, variously called The Dreadful Factor and The Dreadnaught Fracture became popular with a number of the other Mattel programmers.



Happy Trails

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [ACTIVISION #M-003]
Design/Program: Carol Shaw

Play this game on Intellivision Rocks for Windows & Mac!

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (Fall/Winter 1983)
Dag nab it! That mangy critter Black Bart's robbed the stagecoach from Culver City and all heck's broke loose. Just when you're in hot pursuit, the trail you're ridin' on deadends into the side of the canyon. You've got to figger out another route by moving the puzzle parts to create a new trail, faster than you can say Happy Trails, pardner.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Happy Trails was an original Intellivision game.

PLAYING TIPS: From designer Carol Shaw in the Happy Trails instruction manual:

"To really play well, you'll need three things: patience, practice and planning. Here are some specific pointers that can help you out.

"Use the reverse button to avoid deadends, the black space or Black Bart. But to really take advantage of this feature, use the reverse button to move your hat back and forth over a 'safe' area, while you're busy rearranging the trail.

"Once a trail is cleared, use the speed button to move quickly. By saving time, you'll earn more bonus points and reduce the chances of the Bonus Timer reaching zero.

"As you arrange your trail, keep in mind that you are also arranging Black Bart's trail. Occasionally, you might like to hold Bart hostage by making him walk in a circle, so you can plan your next move."

FUN FACT: Players who sent a photo to Activision showing a score of 40,000 or more received an "Activision Trailblazers" emblem.

FUN FACT: This game made a lot of people at Mattel Electronics angry since they felt it was a rip-off of the Konami arcade game Loco-Motion, which Mattel had licensed for Intellivision. To add insult to injury, Activision released Happy Trails before Intellivision Loco-Motion came out. Happy Trails received reviews lauding its originality; Loco-Motion looked like an also-ran.

The unofficial word within Mattel Electronics was that they considered suing but that Mattel and Konami couldn't agree on how to split the legal expenses. In reality, though, few if any lawsuits for design infringement were filed in the pre-crash video game industry. So many games from all of the companies borrowed features from so many other games, it seemed no one wanted to open that can of worms.



League of Light

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [ACTIVISION UNRELEASED]
Design/Program: Russ Lieblich

Play this game on Intellivision Rocks for Windows & Mac!

GAME DESCRIPTION
Maneuver down an abstract tunnel of colored light without crashing. Succeed and go on to a musical memory game: notes are randomly played that you must then play back using the hand controller keypad. Score points for how quickly you duplicate the series of notes. Then its back into the tunnel and on to a longer series of notes in the memory game.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Russ Lieblich did the sounds and music for a number of games at Mattel Electronics (including Snafu) before going to Activision where he designed this game. Peter Kaminski, who programmed River Raid, helped Russ with the programming.



Pitfall!

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [ACTIVISION #M-002]
Design/Program: David Crane

Play this game on Intellivision Rocks for Windows & Mac!
Play the ColecoVision version of this game on ColecoVision Hits for Windows!

BROCHURE DESCRIPTION (1982)
Danger lurks at every turn, as Pitfall by Activision brings a jungle no-man's land to life for your Intellivision. Jump into the shoes of Pitfall Harry, as he leads you on an incredible adventure in search of lost treasures. You'll race against time, through this hostile jungle, fighting off hungry crocodiles! Deadly snakes and scorpions! Treacherous tar pits and quicksand! Run, leap, swing from vines! And with any luck, you might even survive.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Pitfall!, originally released for the Atari 2600, was Activision's first big success (it spawned a sequel - Pitfall II: Lost Caverns - on Colecovision). David Crane, the game's designer, programmed this Intellivision version. Activision later released versions of Pitfall! for Atari 5200 and ColecoVision.

PLAYING TIPS: From designer David Crane in the Pitfall! instruction manual:

"As you set off on your first adventure with Harry, you'll notice two important features: that the logs always roll from left to right, and that the 'replacement' Harrys (after Harry loses a life) drop from the trees on the left side of the screen. So, to minimize the number of rolling logs to be jumped, and the catastrophic hazards to be retried, simply run to the left.

"Pitfall Harry's trip must be made through a maze of surface and underground passages through the jungle. To capture all 32 treasures in under twenty minutes, Harry will have to use some of the underground passages. I'd suggest that you make a map of the terrain each time you play. Knowing the jungle and planning the best route to all the treasures is the only way to insure success time after time.

"Until you get really skilled at making Harry jump from croc to croc, you might wait until the crocodiles' jaws are closed, jump to the top of the first croc's head, then wait for the jaws to open and close again before jumping to the next one. Soon, you'll be skipping across crocs like they were stepping stones in a stream."

FUN FACT: Players who sent a photo to Activision showing a score of 20,000 or more received an "Activision Explorers Club" emblem.



River Raid

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [ACTIVISION #MZ-007]
Design: Carol Shaw
Program: Peter Kaminski

Play this game on Intellivision Rocks for Windows & Mac!
Play the ColecoVision version of this game on ColecoVision Hits for Windows!

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (Fall/Winter 1983)
The enemy has positioned a series of bridges across the river to ensure a supply line. Your orders are to destroy those bridges, and demolish choppers, tankers, and jets that patrol along the waterway. As you advance, the canyon narrows and the enemy gets smarter. Stay alert, the enemy never sleeps. And any mistake you make could be your very last. River Raid. Can you make it?

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Carol Shaw originally designed and programmed River Raid for the Atari 2600. Peter Kaminski programmed this version for Intellivision. Activision later released versions of River Raid for Atari 5200 and ColecoVision.

PLAYING TIPS: From designer Carol Shaw and programmer Peter Kaminski in the Pitfall! instruction manual:

"The River of No Return holds many special challenges and dangers for would-be River Raiders. You'll not only have to know your assault jet, but you'll need to have a good idea of your basic flight plan before you start.

"By knowing the river, pinpointing areas with the highest concentration of enemy, and the most fuel depots, you'll have a much better chance of surviving. We suggest you use the river banks and islands to your advantage, since you can fly over them, while the helicopters and ships can't.

"Fuel is also a critical factor. When you're far up the river, fuel is scarce. Hence, flying to the next fuel depot should be your top priority. Also, you'll find you can actually blow up a fuel depot right in the middle of refueling. That way, you can gain points and refuel at the same time.

"The really advanced player should practice flying through the trees. Not only is it a lot of fun, but winging it through the forest might get you out of a tight spot sometime."

FUN FACT: Players who sent a photo to Activision showing a score of 35,000 or more received an "Activision River Raiders" emblem.



Robot Rubble

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [ACTIVISION UNRELEASED]
Design/Program: Steve Montero

Play this game on Intellivision Rocks for Windows & Mac!

GAME DESCRIPTION
A robot is shooting at you - lob a grenade to destroy it. Boom! But once it's gone, a tougher robot takes its place!

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Steve Montero developed this game at Activision after programming the robot-themed Night Stalker at Mattel Electronics.

The game was completed in late 1983, just as Activision decided to give up on releasing new Intellivision titles.

FUN FACT: Robot Rubble received its first known public display at the Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, August 1999. Expo attendees were able to play the cartridge in the Intellivision Productions booth.



RocketBall

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [ACTIVISION UNFINISHED]
Produced by Cheshire Engineering for Activision
Design/Program: Larry Zwick

GAME DESCRIPTION
A pinball game where you directly control the ball with rocket thrusters.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
RocketBall was in the early stages of programming in late 1983 when Activision pulled the plug on Intellivision development. The game continued in development as a Colecovision title until it was cancelled outright in 1984 along with all other console titles.



Stampede

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [ACTIVISION #M-001]
Design/Program: Bob Whitehead

Play this game on Intellivision Rocks for Windows & Mac!

BROCHURE DESCRIPTION (1982)
Yahoo! Stampede by Activision is bringing some kind of fun to your Intellivision. And some kind of challenge! The object of this tough little video trail drive is to lasso as many stampeding calves as possible. But hold on there, Pilgrim! Those little "dogies" are right clever, and they'll do their darnedest to outsmart you! So, ride hard, rope fast, and hold on to your hat! You're in for the truest test of the wild, wild West!

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Stampede was one of the first Activision cartridges. The designer/programmer of the original Atari 2600 version also programmed this Intellivision version.

PLAYING TIPS: From designer Bob Whitehead in the Stampede instruction manual:

"If you are really a savvy cowboy, you could probably play Stampede till the cows come home. Strategy, patience and smart herding and roping are what really count.

"First of all, keep in mind the particular sequences in which the dogies appear. My advice is to establish a priority for roping the stampeding herd.

"One strategy is to lasso the high-point dogies first, while keeping the darker (low-point) ones herded in front of you.

"Herding is the most important part of the game. But remember, a dogie that is repeatedly herded will get tired and become more difficult to herd, because he won't run as far ahead on the screen.

"You'll notice that the dogies appear in rows. When you rope the last one of a group of dark red Herefords...get set for some fast action, 'cause there's trouble ahead!"

FUN FACT: Players who sent a photo to Activision showing a score of 3,000 or more received an "Activision Trail Drive" emblem.



Termite

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [ACTIVISION UNFINISHED]
Design/Program: John P. Sohl

GAME DESCRIPTION
Control a termite as it makes its way through the walls and floors of a house wrecking havoc.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
After the completion of B-17 Bomber, programmer John Sohl left Mattel Electronics to work for Activision. He began this game for Intellivision, but soon into development he was asked to do it instead for the Commodore 64 computer, a machine Activision was eager to support. John didn't finish the game for either platform before leaving Activision.



Towerquest

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [ACTIVISION UNFINISHED]
Produced by Cheshire Engineering for Activision
Design/Program: Shal Farley

GAME DESCRIPTION
Gather treasures while you scale the outer wall of the castle.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Towerquest was in the early stages of programming in late 1983 when Activision pulled the plug on Intellivision development. The game continued in development as a Colecovision title until it was cancelled outright in 1984 along with all other console titles.



Worm Whomper

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [ACTIVISION #M-006]
Produced by Cheshire Engineering for Activision
Design/Program: Tom Loughry

Play this game on Intellivision Rocks for Windows & Mac!

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (Fall/Winter 1983)
Welcome to Felton Pinkerton's farm where corn grows high at harvesting time. But, wait! Wave after wave of horrible corn huskers are slithering, sliding, oozing toward your corn crops. The corn must be saved! The worms must be whomped! Run to the shed, grab your B-U-G pesticide and spray, Spray, SPRAY! Worm Whomper. Watch what crops up!

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Worm Whomper was an original Intellivision game programmed at Cheshire Engineering under contract to Activision.

PLAYING TIPS: From designer Tom Loughry in the Stampede instruction manual:

"As you will undoubtedly discover, protecting corn from invading bugs can be a full-time chore. And even then, there will always be at least one hungry bug that will survive the battle. Here are some pointers to help you control the number of bugs and increase the productivity of your crop.

"First of all, remember to spray the larger bugs first. They move the fastest and take the most spray to destroy.

"Also, it is especially important to exterminate the moths as soon as they appear. Although they don't actually destroy the corn themselves, they do lay eggs that mature into hungry caterpillars. If moths have the chance to lay their eggs close to the corn, the caterpillars will only have a short distance to travel and feast.

"Another strategy is to save your plough balls for the later waves of attack. All of the bugs will be moving much faster and that's when you'll need the plough balls most.

"Finally, only defend those sections of the field that have the corn growing on them. Don't even worry about the sections of the field that have lost their corn, unless new stalks appear."

FUN FACT: Players who sent a photo to Activision showing a score of 75,000 or more received an "Activision Worm Whompers" emblem.




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