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Intellivision Lives! Review

Intellivision Lives! - NDS Screenshot - 819752

You might know Intellivision as your beloved first console, or possibly as the ancient relic collecting dust at grandma's house. Whether reliving the old days or exploring your roots, Intellivision Lives! is packed with retro goodness. The compilation appeared on all consoles of the previous generation, but intelligent use of the touchscreen makes this an attractive alternative to an entertainment center cluttered with cartridges.

Most of Intellivision's heavy-hitters are present, including Astrosmash, Sub Hunt, Tower of Doom, and the Space Invaders clone, Space Armada. Role-playing aficionados will especially appreciate the inclusions of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons games, Cloudy Mountain and Treasure of Tarmin, respectively renamed Crown of Kings and Minotaur. Regrettably, the latter is marred by a chopped screen that obscures vital information.

There are no third-party titles, which is understandable due to licensing issues, but still worth mentioning. You will have to look elsewhere for classics such as Q*bert, Burgertime, Pitfall, and Mouse Trap. Also, I can't help wishing that Kool-Aid Man and Masters of the Universe had made the cut. It's not that either was especially good, but they do get points for being unique.

Intellivision Lives! boasts over 60 games, but you might only see 42 of them. The rest are multiplayer-only, and some are obvious padding. Is anyone really yearning to relive Learning Fun and its sequel with a friend? On the plus side, Intellivision Lives! makes use of single-card download play; a tragically underutilized feature of the DS.

Atari 2600 was the star of its generation, but Intellivision was a technical powerhouse. Animations were fast and fluid, and hearing semi-intelligible speech from your speakers was a thrill. The system was also home to some of the most complex games of the era. Even now Space Spartans is a surprisingly involved (and confusing) combat simulator, while the pseudo-3D of Minotaur makes Atari's Adventure look pitifully simplistic.

Intellivision was able to pull off such intricate games due to its controller. In addition to the joystick, there was a 12-button keypad that plastic overlays slid onto. The DS recreates this feature perfectly with the touchscreen, and even improves some with custom artwork. Instructions for each game are easily accessible via the pause menu, although some are too brief to provide competent explanation.

Although Intellivision Lives! provides more games than most compilations, it lacks the extra content that we have come to expect; no additional artwork, advertisement, facts, or timelines. It's unfortunate, but certainly not a deal-breaker. Intellivision Lives! on the DS isn't a grandiose production by any means, but touchscreen controls and portable multiplayer make this the best rendition yet.

Above Average

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Brian Rowe
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