Initially, Magnavox had developped a prototype system called "Odyssey 2". It did not have the ability to use cartridges but had 24 games built-in and could be played by up to 4 players simultaneously. But this console never made it to the shelves, and the Odyssey² (a complete different system in fact) was marketed instead.
The system is powered by an Intel 8048 microcontroller and a Video Display Controller (VDC) generating all audio & video. This VDC, which is a custom Intel IC, can generate 4 different types of graphic objects: a background grid, single characters, quad characters (made of 4 single characters) and sprites. A maximum of 4 independent sprites can be displayed. There are monochrome and of 8 x 8 pixels in size. Of course the VDC can detect sprite collisions.
The Odyssey² has 64 pre-defined characters (letters and graphic symbols) in memory. Up to 12 foreground characters can be displayed from this internal character set. Many games (especially eraly ones) used a lot those pre-defined characters: man walking, right arrow, slopes, tree, ships, plane and a ball.
The flat membrane keyboard of the Odyssey² was a major selling point. It was meant to be used for game selection, educational games, programming, entering its name for hi-scores,etc. Apart from the game selection, it was hardly used.
Though not as popular as the Atari VCS, or later Intellivision, the Odyssey² did well in the US and even better in Europe where it was marketed by Philips as the G7000 Videopac and Philips C52 in France. Even the Odyssey3 prototype (which never came out), was somehow released in Europe as the Philips G7400 system, Videopac+ and Jopac systems.
Information on the European version by Taneli Lukka from Finland:
The European version of this system, Philips Videopac G7000, has a couple of quite weird charasteristics.
It has no power on/off button, the system is switched on just by plugging it into the wall socket. This is not very handy if you don't have a free wall socket nearby. Games can be inserted and taken out with the console on. You just have to press the reset button after inserting a game.
Late model machines also have all the cables (RF, power and controllers) hardwired to the system so you can only replace them by taking your console apart.
I just got one of these, CIB for about $35 ($44 after shipping) on ebay, and I like it. The look of the console is neat, (and its HUGE, it dwarfs my Xbox!) The Controllers are well made and responsive (Although I don''t care for the hardwired nature of them, but it was a common practice), and quite a few games on there are actually pretty fun, I particularly enjoy Kc''s Krazy chase, and Dynasty, as well as UFO! plus, boxed games are some of the easiest and cheapest to find for any vintage console, even The Atari 2600 isn''t this easy of cheap when it comes to finding CIB games (And it''s loose games are the cheapest of any game console!)!
All in all, its a fun underdog console both from a collecting and gaming stand point.
Thursday 12th October 2017
Degoragon (United States)
I was about 12 or so when these first made an appearance. The cool kids got an Atari VCS, the kids (or parents) who were into sports got an Intellivision, and the nerdy kids whose parents wanted them to learn about computers got the O2.
At the time the O2 was a distant 3rd-place, but it does have a retro charm to it. $$65279$
Sunday 5th January 2014
In Brazil Odyssey2 was released as Philips Odyssey (with no mention to the "2") in the early 80´s. It was the major Atari VCS2600 competitor, but although it looked somewhat more advanced, I and the majority of the kids of that time preferred the old VCS just because it offered a zillion more game titles than Odyssey.
Wednesday 17th August 2005
Todor DeOliveira (Brasilia, Brazil)
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
Two 8-directions self-centered joysticks with fire button
Intel 8048 microcontroller
Video Display Controller (VDC): Custom Intel IC generating all audio & video