You know how you can tell a console is ancient? It comes with a wood grain finish.When the Intellivision Flashback first came on the scene in 1979 it was a surprise hit. ColecoVision hadn’t released yet, and the Atari Video Computer System hadn’t yet gained the traction it would around the time it was renamed to the 2600.
While the Intellivision was active, it had a ton of great games that have been lost to the mists of time. Or have they? They haven’t. Enter the Intellivision Flashback.
What Is the Intellivision Flashback?
A spectacular question. Classic consoles packaged as all-in-one units are all the rage right now – you can just look at the success of the Nintendo and Super Nintendo Classics to see how high the demand is for nostalgia-based gaming consoles.
Like the others, the Intellivision Flashback comes with two classic-styled controllers, the console, and a glut of built-in games imported all the way from your childhood. In fact, the Intellivision Flashback comes with 60 games installed, which right there is worth the price of admission.
The Intellivision Flashback is extremely easy to set up, so don’t worry about having to dig through the cord chaos behind your TV. Plug in the power, plug in the signal cable, and connect the two controllers and you’re ready to roll back the clock.
How Does It Feel?
Unboxing the Intellivision Flashback is like a blast from the past.
If the controllers aren’t identical to the original controllers, then there close enough that you can’t tell. Just as back in the day, the controllers are equipped with a number pad and a dial. There are also plastic overlays for most of the games, which attach to the number pad to show you what the unique controls are for each separate game.
The only notable change for the controls is the removal of the old-school curlicue cord that used to come with remotes and phones of the era. Instead, the controllers use a normal, straight cord – practical, maybe, but missing some of the charm.
The cables could be longer – just like the Nintendo Classic, you pretty much have to yank the whole unit out of your entertainment center and put it in the middle of your room in order for the cables to reach.
While that may have been fairly accurate for the time, in the modern era it’s a little annoying to have a long stretch of cable and console in the center of your room. Especially if you have young kids who are prone to trip on them, or dogs prone to eat them. Eat the cables, I mean, not the children.
The console itself works great, and this classic game console comes with 60 built-in gamesbut the design does feel a little light. The plastic feels a bit flimsy, but since the console itself plays games just fine it’s a minor mark.
Watch: Enthusiastic Gamer Unboxes the Intellivision Flashback
What Games Does the Intellivision Flashback Come With?
60 built-in games are nothing to sneeze at, and the designers did a great job of including most of the classics. You will find 3rd party games that are missing – a little digging tells me that it was just too expensive to get some of the licenses for those games.
You’ll also notice that some of the titles have changed, and this is also a licensing issue. All of the branded Dungeons and Dragons games have been changed (just the names, not the gameplay), as have some of the sports game. While the NBA and the MLB might not put their official stamp of approval on these games any more, it doesn’t make them any less fun to play on a Saturday night with a good friend.
However, the games that are included is fairly comprehensive. We’ll break them down by genre for ease of use, and to help you find what you’re looking for.
- Brickout – Blast plasma balls through the enemy’s forcefield.
- Frog Bog – One or two player game where you jump lily pads and try to catch the most flies.
- Pinball – Two flippers, one ball, infinite fun.
- Shark! Shark! – Built by one of the first female programmers, Ji-Wen Taso, you play a fish trying to avoid sharks and find dinner. One of the best-selling Intellivision games.
- Hard Hat – Play as a construction worker trying to make it to the top of a skyscraper, dodging obstacles and falling objects.
- Hover Force – Originally a game you could play with 3D glasses, you fight terrorists from an awesome future helicopter.
- Night Stalker – Battle your way through a hedge maze that you can’t escape. Blast monsters, spiders, bats, and more.
- Sharp Shot – A simple game designed to teach young children how to play very basic versions of sporting games.
- Blowout – You and a friend drop darts and try to blow up as many rising balloons as you can.
- Buzz Bombers – Become a can of bug repellant and smackdown as many bees as you can.
- Snafu – A multiplayer version of snake where you try to trap, bite, and generally outwit your opponent.
- Triple Action – A three-part vehicle combat game where you fly, race, and fight tanks, planes, and cars.
- Vectron – A strange but fun game, your goal is to build a base out energy. However, you have to use that energy to defend it, making it an early resource management game.
- Thin Ice – You play as an ice skating penguin trying to survive a super thin frozen lake.
- Thunder Castle – Intellivision’s answer to Adventure, you play a knight trying to sneak through a castle and kill wizards, dragons, and demons.
- B17 Bomber – Play as a B-17 and bomb antiaircraft guns, ships, factories, and airports.
- Armor Battle – A two-player game where you try to blow each other up with tanks and limited respawns.
- Minotaur – Originally known as Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Treasure of Tarmin, in Minotaur you battle through a layered dungeon to find a precious chest. An early 1st person game emulating three dimensions.
- Crown of Kings – Also originally an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game, Crown of Kings is a top-down adventure game in the style of Zelda or Adventure.
- Sub Hunt – Command your groups of submarines to take out enemy convoys and submarines.
- Sea Battle – Another 2-player game, you command your naval fleet to smash your opponent’s base.
- Takeover – One of the earliest large-scale war games, Takeover tasks with world domination.
- Tower of Doom – A dungeon exploration and fantasy adventure game, the map only becomes clear as you explore, meaning you have no idea where you’re going.
- Learning Fun – Originally Factor Fun, contains most math games.
- Learning Fun II – Originally Memory Fun, has more word games and crosswords.
- Math Fun – Can play single player or with a friend, which involved solving math problems to get animals across the river or away from predators.
- Word Fun – Includes a Scrabble-like game, and a game that uses words to recreate Space Invaders.
- Astrosmash – Easily one of the most popular Intellivision games, Astrosmash tasks you with blowing up bombs, meteors, and guided missiles.
- Armada: Space Armada – Pretty much a reskinned Space Invaders.
- Battle: Space Battle – One of the earlier space shooters, Space Battle is still actually pretty fun.
- Cadet: Space Cadet – A multiplayer game where you ram your flying saucers into each other. Pretty much intergalactic destruction derby.
- Hawk: Space Hawk – Play a floating astronaut adrift in space, blasting enemies with your unfortunately named “gas blaster.”
- Spartans: Space Spartans – A pretty fun counterpart to Atari’s Star Raiders, your job is to protect a group of star bases from enemy attack and manage your ship’s systems all the while.
- Star Strike – Remember the trench run Luke performs at the end of the original Star Wars? That’s basically this whole game. Fun, though.
- Auto Racing – Race through five different courses alone or with a friend.
- World Championship Baseball – Also had a license with the MLB but had to be dropped for licensing.
- Slam Dunk: Super Pro Basketball – Has the distinction of being the first licensed NBA game in history.
- Body Slam: Super Pro Wrestling – Suplex, punch, and generally abuse the computer or another player with one of 26 moves.
- Bowling – You’re a bright blue man, bowling with up to 4 other players by taking turns at the controllers.
- Boxing – A pretty deep version of the game, due to the 12 buttons on the controller that allows you a large variety of attacks. Plus, you can play with two people.
- Football, Super Pro – A two-player football game where the five members of your football team take on their five members for ultimate glory.
- Golf and Chip Shot Super Pro Golf – It’s golf. Surprisingly well done, though.
- Slap Shot: Super Pro Hockey – Was once NHL Hockey¸ but lost the license.
- Motocross – Ride bikes through a technicolor wonderland.
- Soccer – With a unique perspective and good ball mechanics, soccer can also be played two player.
- Spiker! Super Pro Volleyball – Standard volleyball, but can be played with two players battling each other or on the same time fighting computer opponents.
- Stadium Mud Buggies – Race buggies on a dirt track with friends.
- Super Pro Decathlon (Decathlon) – A great all-in-one sports game that includes many track and field games.
- Tennis – A tennis game that requires two players.
- Backgammon – A two player simulation of Backgammon with multiple difficulty levels.
- Bomb Squad- ?Two player simulation.
- Checkers – Another two-player game, and a great way to play Checkers without having to find your checker board and all of its missing pieces.
- Chess – The classic game of intelligence and wit, can be played 2 player.
- Horse Racing – Love betting on the ponies? You won’t even have to leave the house.
- Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack and Las Vegas Roulette and Royal Dealer – All four games are pretty decent simulations of their respective casino games – I mean, how good do the graphics have to be for a card game?
- Utopia – Widely considered to be the first real-time strategy game – as well as the first city building game – Utopia tasks you and a friend with building competing islands. The player with the best island and the most points wins.
How Does It Stack Up Against Modern Consoles?
Well, I hate to be Mister Obvious, but, it doesn’t.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get one or that it’s a bad console – quite the opposite. But when looking back, it’s easy to look at the simple blocks and bright green lines and ear-smashing sound effects and wonder how anyone could enjoy playing those games.
But back in the day, those consoles were top of the line. Those games were revolutionary. As you’ve seen so far, there are a few games in the Intellivision Flashback that literally created brand new genres (Utopia, Slam Dunk, Vectron) that still exist today.
Interacting with screens didn’t really exist before these consoles – you either watched something on TV or the TV was off. This was long before consumer computers were within striking distance for most families, and the ability to control what was happening on a home television screen was literally revolutionary.
If you’re looking to buy one of these so your kids will stop hounding you about a PS4 Pro, you’re gonna have a bad time. But if you grab one to appreciate the history of the medium, to have a bit of simple fun with your friends, and to play some really, really hard games, then the Intellivision Flashback could do the job.
Travel Back in Time with the Intellivision Flashback
As classic consoles go, the Intellivision Flashback fits right in the current crop of options when it comes to build quality, built-in games, and old school feel.
Sure, the cables could be longer, and the console itself could stand be a bit sturdier, but the ease-of-setup to gaming-fun ratio is titled in the right direction.
If you’re an old-school gamer feeling a little nostalgic, the Intellivision Flashback is definitely coming back and worth checking out!