1979 UK and Ireland commercial for the Philips Videopac Computer Games System.

The Magnavox Odyssey², known in Europe as the Philips Videopac G7000, in Brazil as the Philips Odyssey, in the United States as the Magnavox Odyssey² and the Philips Odyssey², and also by many other names, is a video game console released in 1978.

In the early 1970s, Magnavox was an innovator in the home video game industry. They succeeded in bringing the first home video game system to market, the Odyssey, which was quickly followed by a number of later models, each with a few technological improvements. In 1978, Magnavox, now a subsidiary of North American Philips, released the Odyssey², their new second-generation video game console.

Design
The original Odyssey had a number of removable circuit cards that switched between the built-in games, of which there were ten in Europe and Asia, and twelve in America. The Odyssey² followed in the steps of the Fairchild Channel F and Atari 2600 by being designed to play programmable ROM cartridges. With this improvement, each game could be a completely unique experience, with its own background graphics, foreground graphics, gameplay, scoring, and music. The potential was enormous, as an unlimited number of games could be individually purchased; a game player could purchase a library of video games tailored to his or her own interest. Unlike any other system at that time, the Odyssey² included a full alphanumeric membrane keyboard, which was to be used for educational games, selecting options, or programming (Magnavox also released a game cartridge called Computer Intro! with the intent of teaching simple computer programming).


The Odyssey² used the standard joystick design of the 1970s and early 1980s: the original console had a moderately-sized silver controller, held in one hand, with a square housing for its eight-direction stick that was manipulated with the other hand. Later releases had a similar black controller, with an 8-pointed star-shaped housing for its eight-direction joystick. In the upper corner of the joystick was a single ‘Action’ button, silver on the original controllers and red on the black controllers. The games, graphics and packaging were designed by Ron Bradford and Steve Lehner.

One other difference in these controllers is that the earliest releases of the silver joystick were removable. They could be plugged and unplugged from the back of the unit, while all later silver and all black controllers were hardwired into the rear of the unit itself.

One of the strongest points of the system was its excellent speech synthesis unit, which was released as an add-on for speech, music, and sound effects enhancement. The area that the Odyssey² may be best remembered for was its pioneering fusion of board and video games: The Master Strategy Series. The first game released was Quest for the Rings!, with gameplay somewhat similar to Dungeons & Dragons, and a storyline reminiscent of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Info taken from Wikipedia

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