There are few classic consoles that I lust after. One of those systems has always been the Bally Astrocade, and now I have one.
The Astrocade was released in 1978 and was very poorly marketed. At first only available through mail order and then later marketed poorly in small computer stores (though I saw it at a super drug mart called London Drugs in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada). It didn’t help that it was marketed more as a home computer than a gaming console, which it really is.
A contemporary of the original Atari 2600/VCS and Intellivision, it surpassed both in graphic and sound capabilities. The Astrocade got very few arcade ports, though it had a few great clones of classic games such as Galactic Invasion, a Galaxian clone, and The Incredible Wizard, a spot on clone of Wizard of Wor and Astro. The only true arcade port that I’ve seen is Space Fortress and is almost spot on. The Astrocade’s controllers were unique in that they resembled a revolver pistols handle with a small orange nub at the top that works as the joystick that can also be twisted to be used as a paddle controller. They are both unique and comfortable to use. The cartridges look surprisingly like audio cassettes, though they are solid state cartridges like other systems. There is a compartment at the top end of the system where you store the cartridges. And, being a console of the late 1970’s, it sports a great fake wood finish!
I acquired my Astrocade through a trade done on reddit.coms retrogameswap page. The guy I traded with, Chuck traded his Astrocade with a crap load of games for my NEC TurboDuo. I know the TurboDuo is worth more if I were to sell, but the Astrocade is worth more to me as a collectible. The system was clean and in perfect working condition. All the game, except one work perfectly, and the one that isn’t working is a math game so I am not upset. The one game I really want, The Incredible Wizard was not part of the haul, but I have purchased a copy via Ebay, and am eagerly awaiting it’s arrival and this evening I also added Pinball to my Ebay purchases. I’d also love to get a copy of Muncher, an amazing Pacman clone that was released for the system, but the only times I’ve seen it on Ebay, the seller wanted a lot more than I’ve been willing to pay. There are also a few home brew games out there, including absolutely amazing versions of the arcade classics, Crazy Climber and War, a Warlords clone.
I am so happy with this trade.
Here is a video of me demonstrating the games that came with it: