Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Intellivision Lives (Nintendo DS)

Intellivision Lives brings more than 60 classic home console games back to life for the Nintendo DS. With a similar selection to previous games, the appeal of this compilation lies in its implementation and convenience. There's a wide selection of titles that span genres from sports to arcade, with a few unreleased titles and rarities thrown in for good measure. Intellivision Lives' emulation is fairly good, but the primitive graphics might be a turn-off for younger gamers. All in all, this is a solid collection that should appeal to nostalgic gamers.

You pretty much know what you're getting when you buy a collection of classic titles such as Intellivision Lives. It definitely delivers exactly what you'd expect, and brings the classic gamer a decent selection of older titles in one package. Expecting state-of-the-art visuals or gameplay innovation would only set you up for disappointment. However, Intellivision Lives does a good job in bringing back this familiar array of titles, this time on the Nintendo DS Handheld. It includes a good selection of classic Intellivision games with many of the console's standout titles included. There are many familiar names, such as Astrosmash, Night Stalker, Space Attack, Motocross, Pinball, Vectron to name a few. As you'd expect there are a few oddities here such as Snafu, Armor Attack and Frog Bog. The classic Dungeons & Dragons games are also included, without licenses, though the first one is called by its code name, Minotaur. Additional titles such as Checkers, Backgammon, Roulette plus Las Vegas Poker/Blackjack add board and casino-style games to the mix, which increases the package's overall variety an depth. Each one of these is a faithful translation of the original title, with sound and visuals faithful to the source. Playing is fairly straightforward, with the main screen serving as the monitor while the bottom screen is used to emulate the famous keypad controllers, complete with their overlays. While it could have been clunky, the design is quite intuitive and allows you to play easily. The games themselves have held up well and their design is very impressive in a number of ways. It's easy to take some of their technical achievements for granted these days, but the Intellivision featured several ground-breaking titles that moved game design forward.

For example, one of the most impressive features of the original Intellivision was its voice adaptor and the trilogy of titles here including the famous B-17 Bomber, Bomb Squad and Space Spartan shows an incredible sophistication for its time, with the computerized voices taking a cool retro charm to them after all these years. They're a little bit complicated even by today's standards, but there's an online manual that can be called up at any time so you can view the instructions. Once you get the hang of these games, you'll appreciate their adult nature and design more, though there is a learning curve with some of these strategy titles. One area where you won't need much introduction is the famous sports titles such as Baseball, Hockey, Basketball and others included. Most of the early sports titles require two-players, which is a difficult thing to emulate. Fortunately, the game's online mode allows you to share the game with other nearby DS owners and play against them. This multiplayer component isn't the main thrust of the gameplay, though it marks a solid addition to the collection. Some of the games have definitely held up better than others, but there's a remarkable consistency in their overall quality. This is true in the sports titles, which evolved over time from the rather simple mechanics of the early ones to more advanced features seen in later INTV releases. You can see this contrast when you compare the original Basketball title relased at the console's launch with the later-stage release of Slam Dunk Super Pro Basketball. The later has an elaborate menu system, seasonal play and other advanced features which includes some cool role-playing type elements. This is fairly remarkable considering the limitations of the hardware. There's another advantage for players who want to add this to their collection - which is cost. Since many of the later stage INTV releases are hard to find and expensive, players should be happy to learn that many of thee titles such as Stadium Mud Buggies, Spiker Pro Volleyball, Mountain Madness Pro Skiing and Chip Shot Golf are included in the package. With so much software to choose from it would probably be difficult to find games on their own. Fortunately, titles are grouped into themed sections such as sports and arcade.

This approach makes menu navigation easier than you'd expect, and the many options available can also be accessed quickly by using the DS stylus and navigating on the lower screen. It's a fairly decent package overall, though it does have a few faults. Obviously, none of the third-party releases are included, which is a shame since Imagic and Activision made some truly stellar titles. While there are several cool unreleased games on the package, little is shown about their history or why they never came out. This is a threadbare package in terms of extras, with no interviews or background information, which is a shame. Exploring the history of this classic console is almost as much fun as playing the games, though most of this is available on the Blue Sky Rangers website. While the games themselves have held up well, many younger players might be a little dubious after looking at their low-res graphics. The games don't look back, especially when you consider the small screen they appear on helps to hide or diminish their faults. While these games have appeared in several other console compilations in recent years, the Intellivision Lives package on DS is a very nicely designed and implemented classic compilation that delivers a fairly solid lineup of classic titles at a low price. Its not the most elaborate title on the market, but it doesn't need to be. Its definitely going to appeal to older, nostalgic gamers more than younger players, but Intellivision Lives is a solid purchase if you like classic games.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B-

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