Magnavox Odyssey 2

The Magnavox Odyssey 2 is a video game console released in 1978 by Magnavox/Philips. It was sold under many different names — in Europe it was known as the Philips Videopac G7000, in Brazil as the Philips Odyssey, in the United States as the Magnavox Odyssey 2 and also as the Philips Odyssey 2. The original system, the Odyssey, produced by Magnavox, was the first video game system released in the early 1970s.

The Odyssey 2 was noted for its ability to customize the game for the individual. Each game could be made with unique backgrounds, gameplay, scoring and music to fit the player’s interest.

The system had a full keyboard that was used for educational games, selecting options, or for programming. A standard styled joystick with an action button in the upper corner was used for gameplay and was removable; on the earlier model the joysticks were hardwired.

The system has an add-on unit called a speech synthesis for enhanced speech, music and sound effects. The Odyssey 2 also fused board and video games together, with the first game released being Quest for the Rings. It took the board game style of Dungeons & Dragons and the storyline of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and combined them.

By 1983 over one million units had been sold in the US — even without the aid of third party developers. New games were limited and with the success of the Videopac G7000 in Europe, the manufacturer let two other companies develop games for the Odyssey 2: Parker Brothers and Imagic. Most of the Videopac game cartridges were compatible with the Odyssey 2, but did have color differences.

In Brazil the Odyssey was more popular than it was in the US and tournaments were held for popular game titles. These titles were translated into the Portuguese language and sometimes even with a new story line.

The Odyssey 2 was released in Japan in December 1982 but was not very successful. The Japanese version of the Odyssey 2 is very hard to find.

The system has a 1.79 MHZ CPU, with 64 bytes RAM, 128 bytes Audio/Video RAM and 1024 bytes ROM. The Video uses an Intel 8244 with a 16-color fixed palette. Audio is mono using a 24-bit shift register with two frequencies and a noise generator.

The two controllers are eight-way, one button, digital joysticks that plugged into the unit. The system used an RF Audio/Video connector. The cartridges were 2KB, 4KB, or 8KB in size. There were two expansion modules, a voice module for enhanced sound effects and a chess module to play the chess program.

There are over 60 games available for the Odyssey 2.

In 1997 an emulator was produced that works on Linux, Microsoft Windows, DOS and other platforms.

Image Caption: The Magnavox Odyssey 2, a 1978 followup to the original Odyssey system. Credit: Evan-Amos/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)