The 21st Century Intellivision Elektronite Interview

March 26, 2014

The Mattel IntelliVision was released in 1979 to compete against the Atari 2600 and other period game systems like Magnavox Odyssey 2. Back then could anyone have imagined that it would go head to head against the PlayStation 4 in 2014? New games for IntelliVision are still being released by Elektronite Software based out of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  Classic Game Room sits down to talk with Elektronite’s CEO and owner, William Moeller.

So William, I’ll just get right to the point and ask what most people are thinking, why the IntelliVision? Why not the Vectrex?

The Intellivision was my first and favourite video game system. So, when the internet became popular, I started to gravitate to other people who also liked the system. I met the author of D2K Arcade who was at the time, writing the world’s first Intellivision emulator. Eventually it was sold to Intellivision Productions, and released in their Intellivision Lives! Compilation. I was involved in tech support on that project.  I am no engineer, but I enlisted a very talented friend to help me. Eventually I met some very technically gifted people who were using the technical information I published to create more emulators, development kits and hardware to make games. I discovered a group of people who also love the Intellivision. So, when I decided to start a retro-game company, Intellivision was the first system I chose, not only because I know the market very well, but I had the contacts to find games to publish and the hardware to publish them on.

 

Elektronite was started by Valter Prette in Italy. He had a dream of rebooting the third party software house for the Intellivision, Classic Game Publishers, Inc. took over Elektronite as our Intellivision brand.  Valter works on licensing. We hope to publish for more systems than just the Intellivision in the future under other brands.

What are the games that Elektronite has published?

So far, we have published 5 CiB (Complete in Box) games for the Intellivision. D2K Arcade,MinehunterMatch 5DK Arcade, and Paddle Party. We have also done a cartridge only game called Old School. It may or may not eventually be published ‘complete in box’.

What’s your best selling game to date?

D2K Arcade is definitely our best seller. It has broken all the records for a ‘homebrew’ game for the Intellivision. Demand keeps on coming steady and sure.

Are your games designed in house or do game designers bring ideas to you. Some people have approached me about doing games on the system, but nobody has come to me with a complete game, ready to publish yet. I tend to hear about people who are developing for the system, and they know who I am. I’ve approached some people about doing games with varying degrees of success.

We have one programmer who is doing all of our Elektronite tools to make game developing easier. We have an Intellivision tile editor, and are about to release a programming framework, a game engine, soon. So assigning an experienced assembler programmer a title to port in the future is going to be a lot easier. We pay our programmers. Not a huge amount, but it isn’t insignificant.

What do you like most about the IntelliVision?

I know that you will not believe me when I say this, but the controllers!

The Intellivision was my first video game system, and I never used a joystick first and then tried to ‘adapt’ to the Intellivision. It was clear to me from the beginning how to hold the controllers. I have seen you play D2K Arcade on Classic Game Room, and you definitely need some lessons on how to hold the controller! The Intellivison II side buttons ARE horrible, and you should really stop using the Intellivision II.

One of my programmers really likes the CPU. It is 16 bits and fairly powerful. Unfortunately, the limitations of the STIC television display chip hold the system back from being REALLY cool. However, some really great and unique games have been created because of the input system. Utopia comes to mind.

Do you have plans to release games on other vintage systems like Atari 2600, ColecoVision or anything else that may not have survived the early ‘80s? Bally Astrocade anyone?

We are in talks with an engineer to develop an Atari VCS cartridge. When we have a viable cartridge for that system, we want to start publishing complete in box games for it. We would however, like to use all new materials, and not recycle shells for example. The same goes for the NES. We really think that there is a market for new games, but we need to get a cartridge made, so we are concentrating on getting enough customers for our Intellivision lineup to make the business viable.

Do you have plans to release your games on modern game systems like the PlayStation 4, PC or iPad? To be honest there’s no reason you couldn’t, I think a good game is fun regardless of what game system you port it to.

 

We agree! Our game Match 5 is we think, a ‘sleeper hit’. Everyone who sees it thinks it ‘isn’t their type of game’ but really, if they gave it a chance, we think it could be super successful. We plan to have it ported to Android and iOS. We also have an Intellivision emulator that runs on an NES. We might be able to port games to the NES using NES graphics but running Intellivision code. It could be interesting and open up a market for our games.

Do you use 21st century marketing to sell 1970’s era video games? How can fans interact with Elektronite?

We have a Facebook page, and we try to keep track of our customers via email to let them know about other products. On the back of our games, we have our two websites, www.elektronite.com andwww.classicgamepublishers.com where they can find out about and purchase our games. We hope to start including a catalogue in some of our new games now that we have half a dozen titles.

I have to ask what your favorite IntelliVision memory is. I assume you grew up with one? Have a favorite game or two?

My brother I were just off basic training in the Canadian Forces in 1980 when we were walking in the mall with our dad….we saw an Intellivision playing Baseball, and we were blown away! We instantly wanted one, but alas, it was WAY too expensive. Little did we know that my dad went back later and bought the intellivision and 5 games for our Christmas present. That was a LOT of money back then. On Christmas morning I was blown away. I was probably the most excited I ever have been before or since to get a gift. I dedicate the game DK Arcade to my father’s memory.

I don’t have one favourite game for the Intellivision, but I have fond memories of playingUtopia and biplanes from Triple Action with my brother. Burgertime was also a favourite. Intellivision was VERY popular for about 4 years in our house until I started to pick up playing games on computers. I really regret that the Keyboard component never got released.

Can you tell CGR what new games we can expect from Elektronite in the future?

We are excited to be co-publishing and bringing out a fully licensed version of Boulder Dash ® for the Intellivision. It should be out in Summer 2014, in time for the 30thanniversary of the franchise.

Also, we are bringing out a licensed KROZ adventure from Apogee called ‘The Lost Caves of Kroz’. It is an all new KROZ game, and has never been released on any other system. It features flash RAM and will allow you to save your progress on the cartridge. It is probably the BIGGEST Intellivision game ever written.

 

These games are nearing completion and will definitely see a summer 2014 release. Unfortunately, our version of Defender of the Crown has been stalled. We continue to try to get this game finished, but it has been a challenge. We have some other games in the pipeline, but now that we are getting established with a fairly large library of titles, we want to begin to only announce games when they are ready to purchase. We don’t want to be hyping games that are constantly being delayed.

That being said, we are working on some really cool stuff, so keep an eye on our websites!

Thank you for taking the time to talk William. You can visit their website at http://www.elektronite.com/ and order games for your INTELLIVISION!!

You are welcome! It is my pleasure!

William M. Moeller
President
Elektronite
Classic Game Publishers, Inc.

 

Thanks for reading and go play some IntelliVision today!!

Mark Bussler!

 

SOURCE: CLASSIC GAME ROOM

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