Memories of the Magnavox Odyssey2

As a kid, I was always seemingly one or two (or three) video game systems behind the times. There was really only one TV in my house where you could hook up a video unit, and as much as I played my original Gameboy, my dad wasn’t about to fight with me over the TV when he got home from work just because I wanted to play Super Mario.

Odyssey2-01

Now, around age six or seven, my mom was babysitting the son of a family friend. He was several years older than me, and much like the by the big brother I always wanted and never had. His name was Brent. Brent was always really kind to me and would play with me, even though I was a little girl that probably was driving everyone else nuts. One day, Brent offered me a gift I simply couldn’t refuse, an Odyssey2. I’d never heard of it before. All I knew was that it was a video game system that I could hook up to the TV. I’m not sure why that was so much of a big deal for me, as I did have a handheld, but being able to hook it up to the TV just made it seem so much cooler and real for me. Brent had this Odyssey2 from the time of the unit’s release, ~1978. But even more than just the Odyssey2, Brent gave me The Voice adapter as well, allowing the games to have sound effects and voices, which was a big deal for its time.

Odyssey2-02

My parents hooked it up for my younger sister and me and we spent an entire Saturday playing the system. We played lots of the classics…Turtles, K. C.’s Krazy Chase, Alien Invaders Plus!, Smithereens!, and one of my personal favorites, Type and Tell. Type and Tell was awesome for us because we’d make the game say scandalous things like “poot.” We’d laugh hysterically and then make up more silly stories for it to tell. The pronunciation was off for most things, which is what made it awesome. I was in love with the system, but then, the unthinkable happened. The next day, I went to go play my Odyssey2, but I couldn’t get it to turn on. I was heartbroken. My dad couldn’t figure out the problem, so we disconnected the system. I still kept it. About 15 years later, I decided that I wanted to see if I could get it to work again. I went to Goodwill, found an old TV (VHF hook-up required), to set up the system. I got it going again and spent another glorious Saturday playing Odyssey2 with my sister, making Type and Tell say goofy things and laughing at Smithereens! calling us turkeys. I’ve still got my Odyssey2 and it still works.

It’s a classic system that doesn’t get quite enough attention in my opinion. My current quest is to track down a complete Quest for the Rings set to see how one of the first video game RPGs functions.

Odyssey2-03

Do any other retro fans here have a functioning Odyssey2? What are your favorite games? Do you still play?

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Ashley Thomas is a freelance writer, Signum University student, and war cleric. She is working towards her M. A. in Imaginative Literature which will be finished by summer 2017. When not in class or working, Ashley writes under the name, The Nerdy Blogger. You can read her blog here. You can follow Ashley on Twitter and on Facebook, where she shares nerdy posts every day. Ashley and her husband, Ryan, reside with their cats, Luna and Oliver, as well as a large quantity of books, comic books, tabletop games, retro video games, and polyhedral dice. Ashley wants to be Brienne of Tarth, Hermione Granger, and Leslie Knope when she grows up.
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11 thoughts on “Memories of the Magnavox Odyssey2

  1. vinvectrex says:

    I love the fact that you were able to get the system working again years later. Good old Magnavox quality! I had an Odyssey 2 that I picked up a couple of years back just to see what it was like. Fun system that also worked well. Mine ended up with a serious collector, so I’m happy to know it will continue to provide years of happiness.

  2. Wonderful story Nerdy. Nice to see the system working again. I find it interesting that you have it hooked up to an old CRT. Have you tried it on a modern TV yet? If so, what were the results?

  3. Hey everyone! Thanks for the positive feedback. :)

    vinvectrex – I think what might have happened before is that the VHF forks slipped, keeping the system from having an image. I don’t think it was ever broken. This week was the first time I’d fired it up in 3 or 4 years. I’ve been playing a while each day ever since. Still works incredibly well. Not bad for a video game system that will be 40 in about 5 years. :O My husband never played video games growing up, so I need to educate him on all the fun he missed.

    Justin – I’ve not hooked it up to anything other than the 1976 Sears Roebuck color TV with built in rabbit ears that you see in the pictures. I know there are ways to hook up vintage systems to newer sets, but I don’t know how to do it myself. Suggestions? I do enjoy the vintage feel of the old TV though.

  4. Still have mine :) Favorite game is KC Krazy Chase! Also have my modded to have composite video out and Atari ports on it to use Atari type joysticks with it.

  5. blinddog says:

    I still own one, I haven’t played it in awhile but now I’m going to have to hook it up and play a few games tonight. My two favorites would have to be Turtles and Killer Bees. A close second would be K.C’s Krazy Chase. How could you not enjoy the maniacal laughter it has with the voice adapter?

  6. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Thanks for the Magnatastic memories, Nerdy Blogger!

    I rented an Odyssey 2, along with KC Munchkin, a few others, and one of the board games (They didn’t have Quest For the Rings, which made me sad – all they had was the Wall Street game, which just made me confused).

    Even though the game wasn’t played all that much besides KC, for the week I had it (had my eyes on the incoming Atari 2600), I was – and still am – deeply impressed by its integrated keyboard/game cart/joystick/fun-generatin’ capacity.

    It was, in many ways, the precursor to the 486 that would keep me gaming for years in between homework breaks.

    I still look for lots on eBay, once in a while, but never commit to the clicky cuz I’m already getting rid of older electronics in my limited space.

    I have one though, in the back of my kid-mind, in a roomful of carts and a small table for the console’s board games (the good ones). And shag carpeting. Of course.

    And KC running about, munching stacks of VCS Pac-Man carts.

  7. Hey Nerdy, trying to find photos of the back of the Odyssey, to see the wires used to hook up to the television. Got any photos like that? By the way, hook it up to an old TV makes it that much more authentic :) but I like to see what we get on a new TV as well.

  8. thedevilbunny says:

    Great trip down memory lane. I had a O2 back when I was a young lad, and me and my brother loved that machine. Pick Axe Pete was my game, and we played the hell outta it. I still have our original working O2, and all my old games, and i’ve NEVER had a problem with the system aside from the hardwired joysticks occasionally needing some attention. FYI, there is an OUTSTANDING multicart for the O2, plays almost everything ever made for the machine plus a ton of unreleased stuff, demo’s, and more. It’s the most inexpensive multicart out there, and if your a fan of the O2, it’s a great pickup.

  9. plcary says:

    i wanted one of those when I was a kid so bad. Mainly for the voice synthesis feature. I would have made it say all kinds of improper things. I still love using text to speech features on computers and tablets today. Not sure why I think it is so cool, but that Oddsey 2 voice is fantastic!

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