The 5 best ColecoVision games – a very pleasant surprise

The ColecoVision console

How many of you guys remember the ColecoVision? A second generation home console from the 80s, but it definitely was not as popular as the Atari ones. It is thought that maybe 2 million of them sold, but the Atari 2600 could have sold as many as 30 million consoles. That is a big difference in popularity!

I actually missed this the first time round too, there was no ColecoVision in my house as a child, but I bought one a few years ago with what seemed like a gazillion games for it.

There were so many games, and it was kinda overwhelming, so my retro kids stepped up and helped me make this list. Isn’t that awesome? Anyway, here are the 5 best ColecoVision games.

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5. Turbo (developed by Sega, published by Coleco 1982)

Turbo on the ColecoVision

This game bleeds 80s from every pore…

When I picked up turbo, all the extra pieces were a little confusing at first and well, the steering wheel and accelerator pedal seemed a bit odd. Once I played a few round though, that completely changed. Those are the controllers for Turbo as you drive through all the hazards in the game, to reach the end within the time limit.

There are different stages to race through that have their own environmental hazards too, in addition to the time limit and the target you need to achieve. Getting more points makes the cars faster and gives you more dangerous hazards also.

I was not expecting it, but this game is a lot of fun! It is frantic, fast-paced action with some nice eye candy to boot. Genuinely a great game and I am glad to have been able to experience it on the ColecoVision.


4. Tapper (developed by Marvin Glass and Associates, published by Coleco1984)

Tapper on the ColecoVision

Hectic to say the least, but you are unlikely to stop, until you serve the last beer

So you might know this game as Root Beer Tapper or just as Tapper, since it was kinda called both. Do not get confused, as it is still the same game. You play as a bartender/soda jerk serving drinks to patrons before their patience runs out, while also collecting tips and the empty glasses.

A re-themed version called Root Beer Tapper was released later for arcades and home use, since the original was sponsored by a brewing company.

There is never a dull moment in this game, you are running around almost constantly to pass out drinks and collect the old glasses from the tables. Serve every customer and do not break a glass! There are even a few bonus rounds that shake (or not) things up a little to keep it interesting.

3. Spy Hunter (developed by Bally Midway, published by Coleco 1984)

Spy Hunter on the ColecoVision

Now I know where Full Throttle and Chase HQ developers drew inspiration from…

This is what we (my kids and me) call a “car shooter” where you chase bad guys on the highway, to run them off the road or shoot them, while also avoiding civilians.

Of course there was also huge Super Action Controllers that came with the game too! After destroying a car, you need to swerve to avoid the flaming wreck of what is left, as you hunt down the other villains.

The closer to the top of the screen you are, the faster you go, which is great for catching up with the baddies but well… Harder for dodging civilians.

Unlike a lot of other games, Spy Hunter feels totally different every time you play, due to how the enemies are randomized and the road can also change, plus you can even become a speedboat for a shootout on the water. There was just so much to love in this game, it is easy to pick up and difficult to put down again!

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2. Antarctic Adventure (developed by Konami, published by Coleco 1984)

Antarctic Adventure on the ColecoVision

Strange but true, the gameplay reminds me of the Casio car race game. I loved those magical watches…

Okay hear me out, this is not one of the best games of all time and it is no wonder it did not win any awards. However, it is a lot of fun to play with others and my retro kids just love it. It is a “penguin racing game” where you control a penguin running for the ice station, which has an Australian flag for some reason.

The way he waddles faster than Usain Bolt runs is pretty hilarious, and there are obstacles to avoid as well, like holes and walruses. I know I am not actually running anywhere, but the illusion of movement and progression is very convincing, to the point that you can kind of forget the fact it is just an illusion.

It is a bit of a one-trick game with 10 stages and the ability to make repeat runs for faster times, which is great in a household or if there are at least two of you to compete with each other. Antarctic Adventure is memorable for the simple gameplay, repetitive music, quality graphics and all those memories it can create.

Honorable Mention:

2010: The Graphic Action Game (developed and published by Coleco 1984)

2010 The Graphic Action Game on ColecoVision

This game can be either very frustrating or a lot of fun… Patience is the key

2010 is one of those games that definitely needs to be on this list, even if you are not too sure what to actually think about it. It is set on a space station and is a series of puzzle games where you are trying to repair it. The puzzles here are quite challenging and require a lot of thought, with screens that might also be a bit confusing, at times.

A difficult game to the point that it might not be very fun, and it felt a bit like work to me. Almost like another job. Anyway, this game definitely has something special to it with the quality graphics, sci-fi music and difficult puzzles. It is just not for everyone.

Below is my number one pick: I can safely say it is one of the most surprising games I have ever played…

1. Fortune Builder (developed by Circuit and Systems, published by Coleco 1984)

Fortune Builder on the ColecoVision

Do not be fooled by the basic graphics, Fortune Builder is a lot deeper than one might think. I see it as a forerunner of the one and only SimCity

Fortune Builder is something that captured me almost immediately and, more importantly, this was one of the first simulation games to ever be made. Most likely the first Tycoon game, also. Fortune Builder teaches you about how businesses impact each other, as you develop a stretch of land, to add a range of businesses, including apartment complexes, casinos, arcades and resorts.

You need to create a layout that works, so that things are close enough and workers do not need to commute too far, while making sure to not place factories next to certain buildings. The aim is to build profits, while also balancing the area and dealing with whatever the news headlines throw at you, with new laws and the like.

It is genuinely a brilliant game and one that helped to kickstart the entire Simulation, Management and Tycoon game genres. Even today, there are games that use systems like the ones this game includes. Even in Cities: Skylines you need to take planning into account for commute times, and what structures go where to make everyone happy, but keep profits up too.
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So, how many of you retro folks have played some ColecoVision games? Again, I know it was not that popular when compared to the Atari consoles, but it did have a few nice games. Being able to see these games now does make me a little sad that I missed out on them as a kid, but at the same time, I probably would not have enjoyed 2010 or Fortune Builder as much back then. So maybe skipping the console was a good thing? Who knows?

Oh, and What do you think of my list? Are there any games you think I should have included or any games you think I need to have another play of? Please let me know in the comments! I would love to hear about some of the games I might have missed and need to take another look at.

Till next retro retro list!

Ps.
Is there any gaming lists you would like me to cover? Again, just give me a shout in the comments below, and if I know/own the system and have played it extensively, I will be more than happy to do that for you.

In any case, come December, I will be starting to publish a five-part list about the 50 best arcade games ever. It is a huge project, but I cannot wait to get started. And this is not the only surprise, many more will come. Stay tuned, stay retro!

About Andrew A.

Andrew is the founder and owner of RetroGamingLoft. He considers himself a natural-born gamer and is on a mission to keep our younger gaming years alive through the medium of Retro Stories. His event recount includes hopes, dreams, broken joysticks, magic, nostalgia and another final boss defeated.

14 thoughts on “The 5 best ColecoVision games – a very pleasant surprise

  1. Dr. Baker

    Oh my goodness!! I LOVE these old-timey games. I, personally, had an Atari but just looking at these pictures sure does bring back old memories! My son is into PlayStation. They just don’t appreciate how we had it as kids. This totally makes me want to order a ColecoVision console and games to give my son a lesson in the development of technology! Thank you for taking me back to the good-ole-days for a minute!

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Dr. Baker and thanks for your comment.
      Fortunately, my kids are into retro gaming, so I am with you on that: buy it and give him a lesson, lol just kidding.
      Seriously, if you really plan on buying a Colecovision, please let me know how it goes.
      And no need to thank me, it is a pleasure to bring back lovely memories. 🙂
      Untile next retro post!

      Reply
  2. Mattias

    Turbo was my run to game then. I love the way the game was made then and I played it extensively while growing up in the 80s. This article has actually given me this homesick feeling of wanting to get back to those days where I had no worries other than to pay with the colecovision console then. My friends did come over and it was a really exciting period then. Though turbo would be the topper on this list though because it was well received in our community then.

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Mattias and thanks for taking time to comment again.
      That is absolutely fine, Turbo is a very fun game, especially when played with friends.
      The thing is the ColecoVision has many groundbreaking titles… Just think of the same Spy Hunter or Fortune Builder, my number one pick. Do they not remind of Chase HQ and Sim City (a game that I loved)?
      Honestly, this console had a lot of potential and very many titles boast a surprising gameplay.
      Great to have you as a regular here, until next post! 🙂

      Reply
  3. drinkteahub

    This is the first one of your posts I’ve read where I’ve shaken my head and said “nope, never heard of it”! ColecoVision obviously completely passed me by in my Commodore/Atari infused world of the 1980s. It looks like it had some pretty good and ultimately influential games. If I ever come across one as a bargain I’ll pick it up and give it a try. Thanks for teaching me about something new!

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Drinkteahub, it is a pleasure to have you as a regular here.
      So, looks like I got you! lol, just kidding. Correct, in hindsight, the CV was something more than just a little successful console, and it is a pity it does not get the credit it deserves. If you end up buying it, please let me know how it goes.
      Ultimately, no need to thank me, love spreading gaming culture. 😉
      Till next retro article!

      Reply
  4. Daniel

    Thank you for sharing this piece of text, it really reminds me of my childhood where I enjoyed playing this type of video games. Spy Hunter is definitely one of my favorites as I would play for hours that game and I would never get bored, those old times… Antarctic Adventure is not that bad but I did not like it much, don’t know why.

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Daniel, great to see you again! 🙂
      Again, no need to thank me it is a pleasure to bring back our childhood memories.
      Spy Hunter can be addictive. Like I said, the randomization of roads and enemies makes for longevity. No sequences to learn by heart, you are never going to play the same stage twice. It was 1984, so all I can say is: much respect!
      Thanks for your nice comment, stay tuned for my next lists!

      Reply
  5. John

    Hello Andrew. Actually for this games, I probably was still in the womb when the  colecovision game was released. They’re really nice games though going by what you have here. Some games made in this age were modelled after some of these games. It’s good to learn about all this here on your website. Thank your for putting this up.

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello John and thanks for leaving another nice comment.
      It is a great feeling helping people and letting them learn something new, and this is what is happening with this post.
      I will do my very best to keep on providing informative content and bringing back memories.
      Thanks for being such a loyal reader, till next!

      Reply
  6. Vasilij

    This console and games are a couple of yers before my time, so I did not had the chance to experience them. The only one I heard of is Tapper. I was reading about a similar modern game (can’t remember its name for the love of the world) in a gaming magazine and they mentioned how legendary Tapper was and how alike the game mechanics are.

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Vasilij, welcome back to my website! 🙂
      I am pretty sure the game you are talking about is Diner Dash. Yes the mechanics are quite similar, and it is safe to say it was modeled after Tapper.
      One more proof of how influential the ColecoVision was.
      Thanks again for stopping by, stay tuned for my next retro posts!

      Reply
  7. ReviewsForThePeople

    I love the the retro flashback I just experienced by reading your article. I remember playing on my coleco vision with my tv attachment tan keyboard and my old curtis mathis television. This brought up so many fomd memories of my early childhood before Nintendo. I also remember my old Atari and digdug, gallaga,centipede with my roller controller. Thank you for this great memory lane article!

    Reply
  8. Andrew A. Post author

    Hello Reviews and welcome to my website, I am glad you enjoyed my post.
    It is always a pleasure for me to bring back fun memories, and I hope you become a regular here on my retro gaming blog.
    On a separate note, some Atari lists are next… Again, stay tuned! 😉

    Reply

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