Flashback: ColecoVision Changed The Home Video Game Industry In 1982

I can never forget September of 1982, when my family drove an hour north to buy ColecoVision, the new video game system that would eventually make the Atari 2600 irrelevant. I had been waiting for the system for almost four months. My mom, sick of me begging about getting the system, finally took me to get it at Precision Video, the first place in Illinois to get the system in stock.

The system came with the Donkey Kong cartridge, which really wasn't one of ColecoVision's best games, but was fascinating as it was the very first home video game that somewhat resembled the actual arcade game. It didn't have the "Pie Factory" level the arcade version had, but was still exciting. There were kids lined up at my house who wanted to play the game.

Within a week, I was shooting goblins in Venture and shooting up space stations in Zaxxon, a cartridge that sold for $50. The average price for a ColecoVision cartridge was $30, which still seems expensive even by today's standards. My favorite game was Lady Bug, a game similar to Pac-Man, but much better.

ColecoVision sold well, but eventually suffered from the home video game crash that took full effect in 1983. This happened because company's such as Atari over-saturated the market with horrible games such as E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

Even though the Super Game Module was announced for the Summer of 1983, it was eventually discarded as the crash began to take its full effect. The Super Game Module was supposed to add more RAM so the games could have more of an arcade feel than the original ColecoVision cartridges. For example, ColecoVision's Donkey Kong had three levels instead of the four the arcade had. The Super Game version of Donkey Kong was supposed to have the final level. Games such as Super Donkey Kong Jr., Super Zaxxon, and Super Front Line would also add more levels and better graphics.

Coleco decided to concentrate its efforts on the ADAM home computer, which could attach to ColecoVision's module port or could be purchased separately for $300 more. Some of the games that were originally planned for the Super Game Module became digital data packs. Coleco's ADAM was seen as promising, but became one of the biggest disasters in home computing history. In order to get units to consumers by Christmas 1983, Coleco released systems without any quality control. Most of the initial ADAM computers had to be returned, especially because of the defective printer that came with the system.

By the time the quality control issues of ADAM were dealt with, it was too late. Coleco's reputation was killed and not only did the ADAM not sell, but sales of ColecoVision went down as well. However, by mid-1984, the home video game industry was completely dead. It would take Nintendo to revive the industry with the release of the NES video game system, which had a full American release in mid-1986. However, it took over a year for the NES to become a mainstream hit.

ColecoVision may have been forgotten and it may seem ridiculous compared to video game systems of today. However, the gaming industry still owes its respects to ColecoVision for being the first video game system that allowed consumers to be able to play arcade-quality games in their own living rooms.