Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Can't Afford an X-Box? Go Old School!

Plug and Play electronics are a far cry from the early console sets, with their battered cartriges, clunky consoles, and high pricetags. Now for between $10 and $20 you can get a dozen games in one controller -- which is a great deal for parents or anyone else who doesn't want to spend hundreds of dollars for gaming.

So far, we have three plug and play units in our fabulous home: Atari and Intellivision game collections and Etch-A-Sketch wired which even allows you to shake the controller to erase what's on the screen! The game units are great -- they plug in any standard RCA inputs on your TV or VCR and they are small, so the three of them take up much less space than any modern console plus games. Even better, especially for families, the games are engaging, built for a range of ability levels, and clean.

The Atari collection of 10 games includes Asteroids, Breakout and Centipede, along with the very very basic Pong. Intellivision 25 is jam-packed with space and sports games including Space Armada (like Space Invaders), the Tron-like Snafu, Baseball, Basketball and even Pinball. Ease of play varies from game to game and while the Atari game mimics the classic controller, the Intellivision games are packed into what looks like a classic x-Box control pad.

The Etch-A-Sketch unit is a bit different. There is a screen for classic Etch-A-Sketch drawing, complete with a red frame on the screen, but there is also a connect the dots section, tracing, mazes, and more. Lots of fun, especially for younger kids.

The market for these games exploded a few years ago, and shows no sign of slowing down. Unfortunatley, a lot of newer ones are seriously novelty-driven (like the Sponge Bob Square Pants game, where his nose forms the joystick handle). That said, there are still a couple I would like to pick up, including one of the Namco collections (with Pac Man or Dig Dug) and the Plug and Play Pinball.

I highly recommend all of the plug and play sets we have:

Buy Atari TV Games Console from Amazon.com
Buy Etch-A-Sketch Wired from Amazon.com
Buy Intellivision 25


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