ColecoVision was where those of us who skipped the Atari 2600 usually started our console gaming lives.
On this week’s episode of Tech on the Range I made a reference to the ColecoVision controllers, to which Jon Rettinger immediately joked that many of you were sure to be Googling what they heck they looked like. Well, it seemed to only make sense to make that this week’s Flashback Friday choice.
Released in 1982, the ColecoVision was a welcome change from the clunky graphics of the Atari 2600, and was almost shocking in how close the games looked to the ones you saw down at the arcade. Donkey Kong looked just like Donkey Kong, and you had to wonder why you were heading down to Wizard World – one of the two local arcades in my town at that time – and pumping quarters into something you could play at home.
While I loved the ColecoVision to death, one of its biggest detractors, even in my 11-year-old mind, was those blasted controllers. I’m not sure who thought making a long pad would sit comfortably in the hand. Yes it gave you the ability to use a more traditional joystick type control on the top, but having to hold your hand palm-up to drip it made extended play sessions a bit of a nuisance. It did have something going for it, however, in that the grid over the number pad wasn’t flush and you could slide inserts into it for different types of games to use as a cheat sheet for what each button did. I always thought that was kind of cool.
The ColecoVision didn’t have a super long life due to the video game industry crash of 1983, and it was discontinued by 1985. I can’t remember when I stopped playing mine, but it was several years after that for sure. I know I made it last as long as I could because there wasn’t a whole lot out on the market. My next system was the original Nintendo Entertainment System, which I would have a hard time debating on you which had the more painful controller design.