Peaking at Intellivision
Confession: I suck at Halo. When I play, I’m the guy who’s out of ammo from firing into the ground, going nowhere as I run full tilt into a stone wall. Either that, or I blow myself up with a grenade (multiple times). Granted, I don’t have that much experience with the game, but whenever I play I totally suck ass. With a few months of practice, I’m sure I could learn to look up, run and shoot at the same time. But really, what’s the point? I hate being lousy at something, and I’ll never be as dominant at Halo as I once was at Snafu (insert undulating blurriness as we dissolve to childhood flashback)…
I may be dating myself here (not in a romantic psychosexual way, to be sure—although I have admittedly winked at myself in the mirror on rare occasions), but as a wee preteen I was the proud owner of an Intellivision game console.
Intelliwho? To explain: Everyone knows Atari 2600 ruled the home video game console world in the late ’70s-early ’80s. Nearly all my friends (the ones I played with, at least) had Atari. Next to that and a little late to the party was ColecoVision (released in 1982), who came in all hoity-toity with its fancy arcade-quality graphics. And in the way back, sniffing their farts, was Intellivision. That’s what I had. It looked like this:
And the lifelike graphics looked like this:
Not to mention it had these shamefully chintzy plastic overlay cards that slid into the controller to show which buttons to push for each game, that looked like this:
Oh, the stinging memories of those flimsy cards bending and slipping, sabotaging my game as I manhandled my controller in the heat of an epic Pitfall contest. I still get ill-tempered at the thought of those fucking overlays.
Despite these minor shortcomings, Intellivision ruled. And I ruled Intellivision. I mean, I was forced to play Major League Baseball lying upside-down just so my friends would even have a chance. I was that good (it’s okay to be jealous).
The one game I couldn’t seem to reign supreme over was Microsurgeon, a game so tedious and complex that it really wasn’t worth mastering. Just look at these frighteningly badass graphics:
Don’t get me wrong, being a microscopic robot probe in a septic human body, blasting syphilis and dropsy, is heroic and thrilling stuff. Just not for a 7-year-old kid with the attention span of a can of tuna. Personally, I think my dad bought it so I’d want to become a doctor. Airball, Dad.
Of course, all this glorious technology got wrecked to hell in 1983-4, when the market became supersaturated with low-quality video games and consoles. And then in 1985, when that dratted Nintendo Entertainment System—with its über-graphics and posh game controllers—utterly detonated the 16-color video game world I once knew and dominated.
To make matters worse, my parents thought a Nintendo would keep me from playing outside—so I never ever got one of my own (insert forlorn violin sounds here). Yes, I’m still bitter; and yes, I blame my begetters’ anti-video game sentiments (post-Intellivision) on my current Halo deficiency. Though I did get fairly decent at real sports, which I think is purely coincidental (and divinely preordained, don’t forget).
For the next 11 years, I was a prisoner in a Nintendo-less, Sega-less, PlayStation-less household. Sure I played my tuchas off at friends’ houses, but that don’t cut it in the gaming world. If you can’t play for hours upon days upon months until you start punching real bricks hoping that money and mushrooms will appear, you just won’t get very good at these games. That’s a scientific fact.
To finish this short to medium walk for a ham sandwich, I must admit that since ’84 and Intellivision, I’ve only achieved intermittent excellence in several video games (mostly at arcade birthday parties), namely Karate Champ (late ’80s), Lode Runner (late ’80s), NBA Jam (’90s) and briefly, Soul Calibur (20-aughts).
Kinda crazy, I know. But kinda not really that interesting, except to me and my friend Daniel. And he has a neurochemical imbalance.