The 5 best Intellivision Games – that magic box from the late 70s

The Mattel Intellivision console with some games

The early consoles are a study in experimentation and insane concepts. What a time to be alive.

Released by Mattel Electronics in 1979, the Intellivision is that company’s answer to the explosive popularity of Atari’s console and represents an interesting, if brief, foray by the toy manufacturer into video games.

Development on the system started in 1977, with the concept of producing an “intelligent television” that was part toy, part home computer. Producing games from its release until 1990, the Intellivision is one of those legendary consoles that most of us have never heard of before. Nonetheless, it has a special place in the hearts of many gamers.

Mattel’s only attempt at making such a device until a failed 2006 effort called the HyperScan, the Intellivision sold over three million consoles during the video game heyday between 1980 and 1983. Of course, those of us that know our video game history are aware of what happened in 1983: the video game market crashed.

The fact that the Intellivision survived beyond this point and on into 1990 is somewhat of a testament to its strength as a machine. Even so, by the time the Sega Genesis rolled around and the Super Nintendo was just on the horizon, time had run out for the Intellivision.

Here are my top five best Intellivision games as well as an honorable mention that I think you should know about. As always, I would love to hear about your own favorite games, as well as your favorite memories of the Intellivision, if you have them.

(Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that – at no additional cost to you – if you click through and make a purchase, I may earn a commission)

5. Stadium Mud Buggies (developed by Realtime Associates, published by INTV 1988)

Stadium Mud Buggies on the Intellivision

It is great rolling around hills, but beware of the mud!

The title of this game pretty much says it all but, just in case you are not clear, I am happy to explain it to you, because this game is so charming and bonkers fun to play you cannot help but be impressed.

First off, you can play alone, against the computer, or against a friend. You can do single lap events of up to 9 laps per event, as well as five different difficulty settings to choose from, to keep you challenged.

You drive a buggy around a dirt track in one of nine different events, including, Hill Climb, Drag Race, Bog, Tug-O-War, Car Crush, Donuts, Drawbridge, Combo Course, as well as the Monster Rally.

4. Beauty and the Beast (developed and published by Imagic 1982)

Beauty and the Beast on the Intellivision

Horrible Hank looks a lot cheekier than King Kong…

The title might make you think of the Disney film, but this is actually a Donkey Kong rip-off, but a good one. You star as Bashful Buford who has to rescue Tiny Mabel from Horrible Hank, who has placed her atop a skyscraper a la King Kong.

There are a lot of different influences going on here, but the concept is stellar and the game is compellingly fun. Even as a clone, Imagic’s game stands on its own merits and is more than worth a try.

3. Diner (developed by Realtime Associates, published by INTV 1987)

Diner on the Intellivision

Ready to face those (not so) cute chicks?

A pseudo sequel to another game on this list, BurgerTime, Diner is all about Peter Pepper getting the food back on the plate after the baddies from BurgerTime scattered it all over the restaurant. You do this by kicking balls of food down ramps and throughways until it lands on the plate below.

Once you have assembled the main plate, you can then move on to other things like side orders. It is kind of an insane concept when you consider it, but such was common in the early days of video games.


2. BurgerTime (developed and published by Data East 1982, ported to the Intellivision by Mattel Electronics in 1983)

BurgerTime on the Intellivision

Completing hamburgers is soooo rewarding…

A true arcade classic, this game involves assembling burgers while avoiding malevolent ingredients such as Hot Dogs, Cherries, Bananas, and Mugsy, and the glass of root beer. It combines platforming and puzzle elements, because you have to both avoid enemies while also strategizing about how you are going to stack the burgers properly.

Again, I know it sounds weird, but it works in action. Huge, bright graphics and detailed sprites, BurgerTime is iconic in its design along the lines of Pac-Man and Space Invaders.

Honorable Mention:

Thin Ice (developed by Quicksilva Limited, published by Mattel Electronics 1983)

Thin Ice on the Intellivision

Graphics are very basic, but the gameplay will keep you glued to the console for hours…

This game has an astonishingly simple conceit that is a combination of Mario Kart’s battle mode and Marble Madness. You are a penguin and you enjoy skating around on thin ice. The only problem is that your friends do, too, and you have to skate circles around them to cause them to fall into the cold waters below.

How fun is that? You can make yourself go faster by eating shrimp cocktails and, as the levels advance, more and more obstacles are added to the rink for you to avoid. Super charming, tons of fun, and easy to play, Thin Ice is a concept that needs to be revisited.

Time to announce the winner now: the number one on my list is…

1. Bump ’n’ Jump (developed and published by Data East 1982, ported to the Intellivision by Mattel Electronics in 1983)

Bump 'n' Jump on the Intellivision

Looking for a fun game that is easy to learn, but hard to master? You got it!

A racing game, sure, but a competitive and aggressive one at that. You have to make it from the starting line to the finish but you better not hit any obstacles or fall into any bodies of water in between those two points or it is game over.

Oh, and you need to knock the other cars into obstacles or bodies of water. That means you have to balance racing and getting rid of competitors which can lead to some accidentally hairy and hilarious situations. Originally published by Data East for the arcades, Bump ‘n’ Jump ported most of that magic over to the Intellivision and left little behind.
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And that’s my list. Certainly not comprehensive, but definitely some of my favorites. One thing that is surprising about the Intellivision is just how many good games are out there for the system, and most gamers will have their own list of favorites. If you do not know anything about the Intellivision, however, this can hopefully get you started.

What about you, retro folks? Do you have any favorites from the Intellivision era that you think should be on this list? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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.

10 thoughts on “The 5 best Intellivision Games – that magic box from the late 70s

  1. Tricia

    This was a fun system. I used to play a space game on it…whenever I could convince my cousin to set it up, that is. 🙂 …I really need to get my kids on your site so I can share MY gaming memories with them! 😀

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Tricia, thanks for visiting again my website. 🙂
      That would be great, bringing new generations closer to retro gaming is definitely one of my goals!
      Oh and I too had a cousin who had an Intellivision, but given that he was way older than me, I was barely allowed to watch him and his friends playing lol.
      Thanks again for your nice comment, glad to have you as a regular reader on my blog.

      Reply
  2. Gaurav Gaur

    Hi, Andrew.
    Thanks for your article on the best intellivision games – yet another story from the stock of 70’s- I loved it. Nowadays it’s rare to find an article on magic box games as the world has gone many steps ahead but for 1969 born (of course me) the memories are still fresh.
    Thanks for reminding the sparking craze of those stunning years. I still preserve my Nintendo.
    Warm Regards,
    Gaurav Gaur

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Garauv and thanks for commenting again on one of my posts.
      This is what my blog is all about and your words make my day… Bringing and keeping fun memories alive is my mission!
      Thanks again for stopping by, until next post and… Dust off your Nintendo, if you can! 😉

      Reply
  3. Dane

    This is one amazing post which takes me back in time. I could see myself in my 20’s playing bump n jump, these give me sweet memories. My favorite of all time remains bump n jump, I was a champ in it back then. I’ll put beauty and the beast as 4th, stadium mud as 3rd, bump n jump certainly my number 1. I’m quite indecisive about others. Thanks for taking me back in time, I’m glad I came across this post. 

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      And I am glad that you stopped by to read and comment on it, Dane, always a pleasure to take my readers back in time!
      I have got a feeling that Bump ‘n’ Jump is everybody’s favorite or so; my cousin still remembers and loves it. Same goes for some of my older friends. I would say it is simply the first title that comes to their mind when mentioning the Intellivision.
      Honestly the game is a lot of fun, and I believe – without taking anything away from the others – it is in league of its own.
      Thanks so much for your nice words, stay tuned for more retro articles!

      Reply
  4. Henderson

    Honestly, this is the first time I’m hearing of the intellivision games. I think that this were the games that brought in the revolution of video games and they do need to be honoured. Having said this, I’d like to know if this games are still out there, if one can still get them for test purpose. I’d really love to see them. Plus, is super Mario not one of those games of the intellivision period?

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Henderson and thanks for commenting on my post.
      You are right, systems like Intellivision paved the way, so it absolutely deserves to be honored.
      Concerning your questions, not sure if you can get Intellivision games for test purpose, but there are a few retro game webshops that are still selling both the system and its games. You might like to check my list of the top 5 retro game shops online. Oh and I recently saw some good deals on * eBay either.

      As for Super Mario, it is one of the games of that period, but it was not released on the Intellivision
      To my knowledge, the only game from the Mario series that was also released on the Mattel system was Donkey Kong Jr.

      Thanks again for stopping by, until next retro post!

      Reply
  5. Colin

    Ah man i frickin love your website! i have an old Atari myself. I think the topic is awesome, and i think all things retro are coming back into the limelight now. Some videos would be great on the site, showing the old games in action. Make no mistake, you are doing a great job, it’s jsut that you make me want to see these games! Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Colin and thanks for your compliments, I am very glad you like my blog so much!
      Yeah retro is back, isn’t it great? For one, I myself never thought I would have young readers asking me questions and eager to know about the good old times… All the gaming stories we old guys tell are not that boring at the end of the day… 😉
      Concerning your suggestion, this is something I would love to do, but I am afraid it could affect my website speed, so I will pass for the moment. Anyway, once I hit the 100-post mark, I will check my hosting plan and will probably upgrade it. 🙂
      Thanks again for taking time to read and share your thoughts, I hope you become a regular here!

      Reply

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