Way back in 1982, Coleco Industries released a machine that I’ve never personally owned, but spent a lot of time on, aka the ColecoVision video game console. Back then, the ColecoVision quickly became one of the most popular game systems of the 1980’s, selling over 500,000 units in it’s first six months. The system was widely praised and stood out at the time for having near arcade quality graphics and a pretty robust library of games. Of course, how could your system not sell well, when you had the nicest looking versions of games, such as Zaxxon, Jungle Hunt and Donkey Kong? Unfortunately, the video game market crash back in 1983 pretty much ended the ColecoVision and it’s original run.
However, nostalgia for the system is still going strong, with games still being produced almost 35 years after it’s initial release. There’s even a decently large and dedicated community dedicated to the machine, all these years later. For all the fans out there of ColecoVision, one company has decided to revive this legendary console and put in into old school and new gamers hands. But is it worth the money? Does it do the original system justice? Let’s take a look…
AtGames is well known for their popular series of plug and play video game consoles. The company has produced Atari, Sega and Intellivision consoles as well as a series of handheld game systems. Unfortunately, with many of these systems, the overall quality has been pretty hit or miss. With the ColecoVision Flashback, they’ve made a pretty ambitious attempt to recreate the look and feel of the original console.
As you can see, the ColecoVision Flashback successfully captures the look and feel of the original console. It’s a very sharp looking piece of video game hardware. The design stirs feelings of nostalgia in those people who, like myself, who love the original system. AtGames has done a pretty good job here in creating this modern update. I do like that the controller ports are on the front of the system versus the sort-of on-the-top positioning of the original system. I do miss the controller storage, though. 🙂 One thing to note here though, is that this new Flashback system is SUPER-light. This may or may not be a problem for you personally, but I’ve pulled the system off my shelf several times, due to the lack of weight to the system. It’s a good thing that the system itself can handle a little bit of roughness. Suffice it to say, your mileage may vary, so just make sure you’re being careful during hectic gaming sessions. 🙂
On the subject of the controllers, there’s both a few pros and cons to these new versions.The new controllers are a bit smaller than the original models, which can be either a good or bad thing, depending on your preference. Myself, I’d rather see the original version duplicated as much as possible, but the slightly smaller size doesn’t cause too many problems by itself. There are some other changes, however, that will be surely be noticed by the more hardcore fans. Firstly, the joystick knob is much lower on the new controller. I’ve also had some issues with movement with these new controllers, mainly when trying to do diagonal movement, which is a bit unfortunate. The fire buttons also have a different feel than they do on the original controller. The original controller fire buttons were more springy when pressed, while the Flashback version has buttons that click when pushed all the way down. Either way works well enough, and it comes down to personal preference here which one you like better.
The Flashback package also includes overlays for some of the games that need them. The problem with this however, is that not all the needed overlays are included in the package, which is a bit depressing. While I understand that not all games will need these, there were a few games where I was completely lost because they did NOT have the appropriate overlays included with the system. While you can usually find appropriate information on the Internet these days, it would’ve been nice to have a more complete feeling to this system in this regard.
The ColecoVision was a system that was well known for it’s great library of arcade hits, and this new system both succeeds and fails here. The new system comes with 60 built in games, which includes classic arcade titles such as, Zaxxon, Jungle Hunt, Choplifter and many more. Unfortunately, Donkey Kong is missing from the compilation, likely due to licensing issues. The system also includes a few new “homebrew” releases that weren’t around back in the original system’s heyday, which is always nice. Some of these “homebrew” games are surprisingly good quality. A couple of them that stood out for me were Mecha-8 and Princess Quest. Both of these games make a great addition to an already outstanding collection of games.
One last con to note here, is the emulation itself. With the Flashback being built around a SoC (system-on-a-chip) batch of hardware, it attempts to emulate all the functions of the original hardware. While this works fine most of the time, there’s a few niggles, such as Zaxxon’s speed doesn’t feel quite right, as well as the sound being off in a few games. Not a major issue, but something to take note of, especially if you’re a retro purist.
Overall this version of ColecoVision Flashback is a good product sold at a great price. With 60 built in games you really do get a lot of value for your money. ColecoVision fans and retro gamers will likely want to take a hard look at adding this system to their collections. Casual gamers and people new to retro gaming will also enjoy all the many classic arcade games bundled with the system. There are many familiar titles that will draw in those looking for a classic gaming fix. If you loved the ColecoVision as a kid you will have lots of fun with the new ColecoVision Flashback. Here’s hoping that a version 2.0 will come out and tighten up some of the minor issues with the emulation, lack of weight, and lack of overlays. More games for a future release would also be nice.