Crown of Kings

I Am in Love With the Intellivision Flashback

Entertainment Gadgets Gaming Products Reviews Videogames
Crown of Kings
screenshot from Crown of Kings

A few weeks ago, I wrote about playing old video games on the iPad. What I really wanted was my old Intellivision back, but I mentioned in the post that I was scared to purchase the Intellivision Flashback from Amazon or Toys R Us because I had read that it was hit-or-miss. Intellivision offered to let me try one out rather than wonder if I was passing up exactly what I was searching for.

This is where I eat my words: I was such a damn fool to doubt you, Intellivision Flashback.

First of all, set up couldn’t have been easier. Open the box, plug it in, and you’re ready to play. Admittedly, I don’t have my old Intellivision anymore, so I can’t tell if there are any differences between the old machine and this one (beyond the cartridges), but frankly, any differences that exist aren’t keeping me from accessing why I missed these games. The controllers work as I remember them. The games look and sound as I remember them.

But the important part to me? I feel like my old self as I play them.

There is something not only enjoyable but also a little bit emotional about introducing my kids to my favorite games from childhood. I may have gotten a little choked up when my son beat me in our first game of Utopia. And I can spend hours on Astrosmash, hypnotically breaking apart asteroids.

The machine comes with 60 games pre-loaded. With the exception of Pitfall, which I have on the iPad, every other game I owned is in the machine. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons has been renamed Crown of Kings, and Treasure of Tarmin is called Minotaur. There’s a good balance of sports, adventure, space, and miscellaneous games like horse racing, an old favorite.

The console comes with a few controller overlays. The rest can either be printed out from the site and laminated, or purchased online. But the reality is that I don’t really need them. A smaller version of every overlay is printed in the accompanying booklet, and for most games, I’m able to glance down to see any special buttons and play the game overlay-free. I plan to print them out when I have time, but not having them hasn’t stopped me from playing any of the games.

So that’s the console itself, and all of that is really important, logistical information. But none of the reviews I read got to the heart of why I would love this machine. I feel like I’m eight years old again. I exploded with pride when I got across the map to the Cloudy Mountain in Crown of Kings and called the whole family down to watch the final dragon snuff out my three lives. I’m choosing to focus on the fact that I got across the whole map, and not the final moments of my brave adventurer’s life.

Did I mention that I crossed the whole map? How is that for muscle memory?

I am flooded with memories of playing my siblings at Snafu or Blackjack (that is how I learned how to play cards!) or Baseball. Even though I have zero interest in playing golf in real life, I was so excited to reopen that game and choose my club. I felt my whole body tense playing Space Armada like it did as a kid when the aliens were getting closer and closer to the ground.

And… there are so few times in life when you can “go home,” when you can re-access a time period and feel like you did the first time you encountered the games. That’s how I feel playing the Intellivision Flashback. I feel like I get to go back to my childhood home.

And to make it authentic, I’ve been sitting cross-legged on the floor.

I rarely feel this effusive about a product, but if I was excited a few weeks ago playing retro games on the iPad, it is nothing to how I feel holding an actual controller in my hand.

Thank you, Intellivision, for giving me a chance to eat my words, and for bringing back my childhood.

The nice thing about a blog post vs. an online review is that you can ask someone who is holding the product all of your questions. So ask away. What do you want to know about the Intellivision Flashback?

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19 thoughts on “I Am in Love With the Intellivision Flashback

    1. I had the same reaction at first, but then saw a website where they mentioned the name had changed. The game is exactly the same. And I still call it Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

    1. Of course you can. You can hook anything into anything.
      If your videocard doesn’t already have the jacks, search online for a cheap one.

  1. @anagramsci – You need something like this – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K3OT2P2/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00K3OT2P2&linkCode=as2&tag=ryan035-20&linkId=V3TRW3JUMC46LV4K

    You’ll need to research and find one that will work WIHTOUT LAG. This will get it straight to your monitor. You can also find devices (EyeTV? – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003UATR3I/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B003UATR3I&linkCode=as2&tag=ryan035-20&linkId=GMJA5YRTZ4OI3VY4) that play through your computer. Again, that one might lag.

  2. I’m very happy to own and Intellevision flashback system. Not only for the nostalgia factor of growing up but because I have a two year old son and it’s perfect to slowing ease him into video games. I want him to understand the fundamentals of gaming and imagination so I am starting him off on first and second generation of consoles. As we play (which is usually <10 minutes of his attention), I explain the colored block surroundings to help him understand imagination. I can't wait until I can play more advanced Intellevision games with him.

  3. Hi, Melissa,

    If you like the Intellivision, I invite you to join us in our 4th annual “Christmas Carol vs. The World!” Championship, a very special kind of high-score competition.

    Christmas Carol is a wholly original game programmed for the Intellivision and released at the Classic Gaming Expo in 2012. Since then it has become a runaway hit, voted “Best Game Of The Year 2012” by Intellivision enthusiasts. More than a mere “home-brew,” the game is full of festive Christmas cheer and whimsical fun for all ages.

    I run the contest every year to celebrate the Season and to share the joy and fun with everyone. In fact, there is nothing to purchase and no registration needed — and the game “ROM” is available for free download. Just play the game, take a picture of your final score, and submit it via e-mail or forum. That’s it!

    You can find out more information about the contest on the official CvW web site:
    http://www.CarolVsGhost.com/cvw2015

    And you can follow the action on the official discussion thread on AtariAge:
    http://atariage.com/forums/topic/246252-carol-vs-the-world-2015-championship/

    Spread the word, share the joy! I hope to see you there and I wish you A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

    -dZ.

  4. Hi again, Melissa,

    I’m sorry, but I forgot to comment on your post and how touching it was. I felt the same way when I purchased my Intellivision Flashback last year. I was so excited and moved by it that I immediately purchased another for my father, since I have such fond memories of playing Intellivision with him as a child.

    I also own the original console, several actually. However, there is something magical about the Flashback console, about having all the games already built-in. The look, the feel, the clunky hand-controller — everything is there!

    The best part is that, in an effort to recreate the original hand-controller faithfully, Intellivision Productions went out of its way to actually improve it! Those thumb-killing action buttons are now quite comfortable to press repeatedly. Playing Astrosmash for hours has never been more enjoyable! 🙂

    Anyway, thanks for the fond memories.

    -dZ.

  5. Intellivision Flashback unit has started displaying only vertical color bar test pattern. Anything to be done? Any hope? Thnx!

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