Magnavox Odyssey2 Videogame Catalog, 1981
Back in 1981, this was the type of video console that would set a gamer’s heart racing. (Shakes head sadly.) Hard to believe anyone could get excited about these clunky graphics, but well — it’s all we had back in the day.
At the time it was understood that videogames were a gateway drug to real computers, so every programmable system with fancy cartridges promised some sort of computer programming option would be coming along… eventually. The Magnavox Odyssey2 went so far as to ship with the world’s worst keyboard as part of their console. But it was all sizzle and no steak. Videogame systems were measured by the quality of their joysticks and quantity of their games, and everyone played catch-up to Atari. (Beware of anything that proclaims itself “The Ultimate…”)
This small pamphlet came with Odyssey2 game cartridges to get you to buy more of them. There were your Space Invaders, your Pinball simulator, your shoot-em-ups and sports games, and boring “educational” titles — all the essential tropes of early ’80s gaming.
On the final page, Odyssey’s engineers reached a little further with “Quest for the Rings,” a mashup of random fantasy concepts into a hybrid video and board game. It promised to take you to “gloomy dungeons, crystal caverns, molten infernos, and mysterious ever-shifting halls.” well, maybe if you squint.
“Its only limitation is your own imagination.” With graphics like these, that headline back on page 2 carried a double meaning. “It’s not my graphics that are bad, it’s just a limitation of your imagination.”