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You Can’t Beat the System: Remembering the Colecovision Game System (1982 – 1984)

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I’ve devoted much space here at Flashbak recently to the Vectrex, Atari 2600, and Intellivision, just a few of the most cherished video game consoles of the late 1970s early 1980s

When I think of the original, golden age of video games 1978 – 1983, I always think in terms of those systems.

But there is another.




I had a dear friend in middle school and high school who got a Colecovision for Christmas in 1982.

And — even though I was an Atari Kid — this system put the 2600 and 5200 to shame.  The Colecovision was amazing.

Colecovision came bundled with Nintendo’s Donkey Kong (where Atari came with…Combat), and that wasn’t the only great game in the system’s stable.

Colecovision’s Zaxxon was — up to that point, anyway — the most advanced-looking home video game I had ever seen in terms of graphics and play.  It absolutely lived up to the system’s advertising promise of “arcade quality” games.

Even the ‘super’ controllers for the system seemed a quantum leap forward, with deluxe models that had a roller, a 12-button keyboard, and a trigger grip.


Coleco Industries sold over one million Colecovision unites in one year’s time (1982-1983) and quickly became the most beloved game unit on the market.

But then the Video Game Crash of 1983 came, and unit was discontinued by 1985.  During that brief but bright life-span in the 1980s, Coleco produced 150 game cartridges for its system, and converted many fans.

This gamer included.


Here’s a look back at some Colecovision TV advertisements:



  • Mack Bonham

    ” It absolutely lived up to the system’s advertising promise of “arcade quality” games.”

    This is exactly true. Colecovision had a selection of games (Front Line, Venture, Donkey Kong, Discs of Tron and Zaxxon come to mind) that were all but indistinguishable from the arcade machines they were ported from. Although I also loved the Atari they were clearly the “last gen” console in comparison. Colecovision was awesome.

  • joseph powell

    I recall the Atari 5200 also coming out around the same time as Colecovision; the graphics on the 5200 looked a tad better, but there weren’t as many games for it; also the controller for the 5200 was bad.
    Ideally I wanted them both – but for Christmas ’82, we received an Atari 2600 – with Pitfall.
    Way better than nothing, and somewhat of a surprise considering our Dad was kind of a skinflint when it came to electronics (our stereo was a Llyoyd’s model from the early 70s with an 8-track).