- Gaming Resources
- About Us
Handheld gaming is nothing new. Even back in the 1970′s children were getting their gaming groove on in the car, in the schoolyard and even before concerts (at least for me, more on that soon). One of the largest manufacturers of handheld electronic games back then was Mattel and they led the way for other toy companies to also throw their hat into the handheld gaming ring. Handheld electronic games in the early days were designed to run on batteries, usually 9-volt, and were most notably sports games. Unlike handheld video games of today that play multiple games through interchangeable cartridges, the Mattel Electronics games only played one game. These games utilized small red LED lights that were controlled by the player via arrow buttons and action buttons like shoot or pass. The first game sold by Mattel was Auto Race and was followed quickly by Football 1. Auto Race came in an attractive gray/black plastic case and was an ingenious game where you controlled your car, a brighter blip, and had to weave in and out of oncoming cars all while shifting to adjust your speed, just like real driving. The goal was to reach your car to the top of the screen so it would appear again at the bottom and start another lap. You had a certain amount of time to get as many “laps” as you can. Once time runs out your game is done. This is very simple by today’s standards but back in 1977 when it was released it was a very satisfying gaming experience that kids couldn’t get enough of.
Auto Race was followed soon by Football 1 which quickly became everyone’s favorite. Football 1 did a great job of portraying the game of football, allowing the player to play offense against a computer run defense. The player always controlled the running back and using the buttons could juke and jive and move the ball down the field going for the first down and ultimately a touch down. You could play it 1-player and play both offenses but it was always best playing with a friend and passing the game back-and-forth between offensive changes. In fact, I have a very fond memory playing Football 1 with by best friend Chad in 1978 while sitting in the Omaha Civic Auditorium waiting for the KISS concert to begin.
Other popular Mattel Electronics games were soon launched and were always great stocking stuffers from Santa. I soon got nearly every one of them including Battle Star Galactica, Basketball and Baseball (I broke this one as I took it apart trying to find out how those darn LED lights worked). Mattel started evolving their games and soon released new versions of some of their most popular games, Football1 and Basketball. Soon Football 2 was introduced and it added a passing and running option. Instead of controlling the running back as in Football 1 you now had control over the QB and could decide if you wanted to run the ball or pass the ball. It also included the very cool kicking function and now you could even return a punt or kick a field goal. This was an amazing improvement and completely blew my mind when I first played it. Following Football, Mattel then released Basketball 2 which, again was a huge improvement over the original Basketball and added the ability to pass and shoot free throws.
Now some of the Mattel Electronics games are more rare than others and command higher prices at auction. A couple of rare ones to look for are Bowling, Ski Slalom (just like Auto Race but Skiing) and Missile Attack. Missile Attack has an interesting story and helps explain why it is one of the more rare Mattel Electronics handhelds. According to HandheldGameMuseum.com Missile Attack was one of the first games released by Mattel in 1977 and sold in Sears stores. It was told that NBC wouldn’t air a commercial for the game because the city depicted at the bottom of the playfield was an outline of New York City. They worried the children of the time might actually fear millions of people would be killed if they lost the game. So the game was discontinued and rebranded as Battlestar Galactica and Space Alert. These three games, Ski Slalom, Bowling and Missile Attack usually sell in the $50-$100 range, sometimes more if they are complete in box.
In addition to games utilizing LED playfields, Mattel also began making LCD games including some licensed games for Dungeons and Drag0ns, Masters of the Universe and Burgertime. These games were quite different than their earlier offerings and hit the streets in the early 80′s. Their prices are generally in the $20-$30 range or more for complete in box. Mattel Electronics games are easy to collect and still fun to play even today. Do yourself a favor and relive the past with Mattel Electronics and show your kids the cool games you were playing back in the day.
You must be logged in to post a comment.