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INTELLIVISION

M Network Titles for Computers



M NETWORK GAMES FOR PERSONAL COMPUTERS

With M Network Atari 2600 games, Mattel Electronics had expanded beyond programming just for Intellivision. The next logical step was to produce games for personal computers. The first machines targeted: the Apple II and the IBM PC.

The Apple II, introduced in 1977, had sold around 2 million units by 1982, making it the dominant machine in the personal computer market. And the new, heavily promoted IBM PC was looking like a serious challenger.

What was particularly attractive to Mattel was that no company dominated the game market for the Apple II. And game titles for the IBM PC were almost nonexistent. Unlike the video game market where Mattel was playing catch-up with Atari, Mattel could get in on the ground floor.

Both the Apple II and the IBM PC could support color graphics, which was essential. While all-text or monochrome games were still the standard on the Apple, Marketing insisted that Mattel's releases be Intellivision-style colorful arcade games.

The initial development of the M Network computer titles began in California under the direction of Manager Bill Fisher (Space Hawk). Experienced Intellivision programmers Ji Wen Tsao (Shark! Shark!) and Gene Smith (Bomb Squad) started learning the IBM PC.

The powers that be decided that the Apple II programming would be done overseas. Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan (MELT), a partnership between Mattel and China Gulf Plastics (later China General Plastics), the company that molded heads for Barbie dolls, was set up to do the work.

Bill spent two months in Taiwan working with MELT Manager Swan Chen to staff and train the office there. Work began on the Apple II games, mostly conversions of existing Intellivision titles.

At the January 1983 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Mattel Electronics announced that three titles – BurgerTime, Lock 'N' Chase and Night Stalker – would be released that year for the Apple II and IBM PC.

While Ji Wen and Gene worked on the IBM PC versions of these games in California, the Apple II versions plus other games were being programmed in Taiwan.

This created an unexpected problem: when Bill left Taiwan, their customs service determined that any computer disks with programming on them would be subject to a hefty export duty. Furthermore, any disks mailed from Taiwan to Mattel in California would be subject to inspection and export tax. Bill saw that regularly reviewing software updates by mail would seriously slow development if every disk was going to be delayed in customs.

On his return, Bill came up with what was, for early 1983, a novel solution: the games in development could be sent from Taiwan over phone lines using modems. Calling from home late at night because of the time difference, Bill would dial - actually dial; he didn't have a Touch Tone phone - about 30 digits (Mattel calling card plus the overseas number) and ask Swan Chen to enable the Taiwan BBS. Bill would then place his receiver into an acoustic coupler so that his modem could talk to the one in Taiwan. Sometimes, the connection protocol wouldn't grab, so Bill would actually pick up the receiver and hum the proper frequency until the modems connected, then he'd replace the receiver. Once the modems connected, data would start to flow across the Pacific at a blazing 300 baud. Usually, Bill would just go to bed and check on the transfer in the morning.

While that problem was relatively easy to solve, what gave Mattel heartburn was the idea of how easy it was to copy computer software. Mattel first approached an outside firm that boasted the best copy-protection scheme on the market. They wanted one dollar a disk for the license. But given one of the company's protected sample disks, Gene Smith was able to crack it - successfully making a working copy - by the end of the day.

Instead, Gene developed his own anti-piracy scheme for the IBM PC while Bill developed one for the Apple II. While both schemes were extremely intricate (Gene's a bit too intricate: the discs wouldn't run on subsequent generations of PCs), bootleg copies were spotted before the games were even on the shelves. (Bill - who personally kept all copies locked up at Mattel - suspects a leak at the disc duplication house.)

But while Mattel worried a lot about pirated copies getting out, they seemed less concerned about the distribution of legitimate copies. In those days before computer superstores, software was mostly sold in local independent shops and small software chains. The M Network Apple and IBM PC games were only available at Toys R Us and the ComputerLand chain.

Looking into the problem, Bill found that Mattel was not using SoftSel, the largest US software distributor. Instead, Mattel was relying on its own sales network. Unfortunately, while Mattel's sales people were experienced with toy stores, they were beginners in the computer market.

Bill fired off an angry memo: "The whole personal computer area has been treated like a backwater in this company. Our products are treated like they are insignificant. [W]hy can't we at least TRY to sell some Apple games? We're losing money like crazy..." He pointed out that Atari had just begun an aggressive campaign to market their games on Apple, IBM PC, Commodore 64, VIC 20 and TI 99/4. But it was too late for the Christmas 1983 season. Few Mattel computer games got into the hands of consumers.

(Today, while Mattel's Intellivision and Atari 2600 games are fondly remembered, even many hard-core collectors are surprised to learn that Mattel Electronics was a pioneer in PC games.)

In August 1983, major layoffs at Mattel effectively eliminated the Design & Development department. A few experienced Apple II programmers were transferred from D&D into Bill's group, where they worked on converting lower-priority Intellivision titles to Apple. None of these made it onto the official release schedule. At about the same time, the Taiwan office expanded into IBM PC programming. Work started there on IBM PC versions of high-priority titles such as Masters of the Universe and Treasure of Tarmin.

But Marketing was pinning their hopes for 1984 on the forthcoming IBM PC Jr. Where the PC was seen primarily as a business machine, the PC Jr. would be targeted at the home market. And the software would be on cartridges, making games harder to bootleg. Marketing committed to a full slate of PC Jr. games, with the titles to be done in California and in the Mattel Electronics office in France. Late in 1983, Bill and his California team started looking into developing for the unreleased system, nicknamed "Peanut," but Mattel Electronics closed before serious work was done. (As a postscript, when the PC Jr. was released, it flopped. It is barely remembered today.)

Late in 1983, Marketing also made a commitment to release games for the Commodore 64 computer. These games would be developed in the Mattel Electronics office in France. The only problem: the French office didn't have any Commodore 64s. In a December 20, 1983 internal status report, the schedule for those games is listed as "dependent on equipment availability," possibly delaying their release until "the first half of 1985." One month to the day after that status report, Mattel Electronics was shut down.

Due to the partnership status with China Gulf Plastics, the Taiwan office didn't close with the rest of Mattel Electronics. Work continued with new titles such as Rat 'N' Cat and Warship in the hopes of interesting another publisher. None was found, however, and the office eventually shut down.


Apple II, Apple Plus & Apple IIe


ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
TREASURE OF TARMIN

APPLE II DISKETTE [#7749, UNFINISHED]
Trademark used under license of TSR Inc.
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics
Program: John Chow

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Apple II version of the previously released Intellivision Treasure of Tarmin cartridge. The game was still in development when Mattel Electronics closed.

FUN FACT: For the Intellivision version, the TSR licensing contract called for the capitalization of the title and the appending of the word "cartridge." Since the Apple II version would not have been a cartridge, another word would have had to be used. ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS TREASURE OF TARMIN Floppy?


Astrosmash

APPLE II DISKETTE [UNFINISHED]
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Apple II version of the previously released Intellivision Astrosmash cartridge. While this game was worked on in the Taiwan office, it never appeared on the official Mattel Electronics release schedule.


Baseball

APPLE II DISKETTE [UNFINISHED]
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Apple II version of the previously released Intellivision Major League Baseball cartridge. While this game was worked on in the Taiwan office, it never appeared on the official Mattel Electronics release schedule.


Bump 'N' Jump

APPLE II DISKETTE [UNFINISHED]
Based on the Data East USA arcade game

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Apple II version of the Data East arcade game, previously released for Intellivision. This game was worked on in the California office. While never on the official release schedule, it was still being worked on when Mattel Electronics closed.


BurgerTime

APPLE II DISKETTE [#4519]
Based on the Data East USA arcade game
Program: Tim Wladyka, Eric Del Sesto

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
As the burger chef, you're out to build delicious hamburgers. As you run through the colorful maze assembling the ingredients, nothing can stop you. Except menacing hot dogs and pickles that are out to ruin the meal! Bury them under beef patties, lettuce and buns. Or, knock them out with pepper. The game gets more difficult as you get better. (One or two players.)

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
This was an Apple II version of the Data East USA arcade game previously released for Intellivision.

Tim Wladyka, a contract programmer who regularly worked for the Mattel Electronics systems software department started development on this game. When he got bogged down, Eric Del Sesto was pulled off of Atari 2600 programming to take over and finish the project. (Although only 18, Eric was one of the most experienced computer game programmers on staff, having had a computer game published while he was in high school.)

FUN FACT: The Apple II and IBM versions of BurgerTime have six additional levels not found in the arcade or Intellivision versions.


Heavy Artillery

APPLE II DISKETTE [#7748, UNRELEASED]
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics
Design/Program: Rachel Wuu

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1984, Consumer Electronics Show)
Direct your forces to capture the opposing base. Map out your strategy and go to battle.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Essentially an Apple II version of the previously released Intellivision Armor Battle cartridge. The game, shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, January 1984, was in the final stages of development when Mattel Electronics closed.


Jet Ranger

APPLE II DISKETTE [UNFINISHED]
Design: Greg Stull, Joe [Ferreira] King
Program: Greg Stull
Graphics: Joe King

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Actually the first Apple II game worked on at Mattel Electronics, this jet helicopter game was a project done by Greg Stull, a student who interned at Mattel Electronics during the summer of 1982. Never completed (due to Greg returning to college) and never on the release schedule, it did show the viability of Intellivision-style games and graphics on the Apple II.

Greg was the only intern ever hired by the Applications Software department. Management realized that just when an intern would be up to speed on a particular development system, it would be time for him or her to leave. They also decided that with all the confidential projects being worked on, a revolving door with people coming and going every three months wasn't the best idea.

FUN FACT: Graphics artist Joe King didn't let this cool jet helicopter go to waste - he brought it back in Hover Force 3-D, an Intellivision game he co-designed with Steve Ettinger.


Lock 'N' Chase

APPLE II DISKETTE [#4522]
Based on the Data East USA arcade game
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
A fast-action chase game as you maneuver your thief through the maze, picking up coins and other treasures. Billy-club swinging cops are in hot pursuit, but you can temporarily escape them by locking gates behind you. The longer you survive, the more valuable the treasures become. (One or two players.)

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Apple II version of the Data East USA arcade game previously released for Intellivision.


Masters of the Universe:
The Power of He-Man

APPLE II DISKETTE [#7758, UNFINISHED]
Based on the line of action figures from Mattel Toys
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics
Program: Fred Liu

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Apple II version of the previously released Intellivision Masters of the Universe cartridge. The game was still in development when Mattel Electronics closed.


Mission X

APPLE II DISKETTE [UNRELEASED]
Based on the Data East USA arcade game
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics
Program: Victor Yu

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Apple II version of the Data East arcade game, previously released for Intellivision. This game was completed in the Taiwan office but its scheduled release was cancelled for unknown reasons.


Night Stalker

APPLE II DISKETTE [#4524]
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
The relentless robots have you on the run. Destroy one, and it's replaced by an even faster and smarter one! There's a bunker to hide in, but be careful! The spiders and bats can give a stunning sting to slow you down and make you easy prey for the alien robots! (One or two players.)

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
An Apple II version of the previously released Intellivision Night Stalker cartridge.


Party Line

APPLE II DISKETTE [UNFINISHED]

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Apple II versions of Blowout and Space Cadet, two of the Intellivision Party Line games then in development. While this game was worked on in the California office, it never appeared on the official Mattel Electronics release schedule.


Pirates of the Nile

APPLE II DISKETTE [#7747, UNRELEASED]
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics
Design/Program: Christina Huang

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1984, Consumer Electronics Show)
Travel through the catacombs of the pharaoh's ancient tomb to uncover the hidden treasure. Avoid guardian spirits as you return to your ship.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Pirates of the Nile
was the first original title designed at the Taiwan office. The game, shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, January 1984, was in the final stages of development when Mattel Electronics closed.

FUN FACT: Music during a game on the Apple II was difficult, requiring timed bursts of writes to the speaker port, so the cool rendition of Flight of the Bumblebee in this game was considered quite an accomplishment.


Skiing

APPLE II DISKETTE [UNFINISHED]
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Apple II version of the previously released Intellivision U.S. Ski Team Skiing cartridge. While this game was worked on in the Taiwan office, it never appeared on the official Mattel Electronics release schedule.


Space Battle

APPLE II DISKETTE [UNRELEASED]
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Apple II version of the previously released Intellivision Space Battle cartridge. While this game was completed at the Taiwan office, it never appeared on the official Mattel Electronics release schedule.


Tangram

APPLE II DISKETTE [UNFINISHED]
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
An original Apple II game based on tangrams, where 7 geometric shapes are arranged to create various simple pictures. While this game was worked on in the Taiwan office, it never appeared on the official Mattel Electronics release schedule.


TRON Deadly Discs

APPLE II DISKETTE [UNFINISHED]
Based on the movie TRON from Walt Disney Productions
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Apple II version of the previously released Intellivision TRON Deadly Discs cartridge. While this game was worked on in the Taiwan office, it never appeared on the official Mattel Electronics release schedule.


Untitled Children's Game

APPLE II DISKETTE [UNFINISHED]
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics
Program: Chao

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
An original Apple II children's game developed in the Taiwan office. Briefly on the official Mattel Electronics release schedule, but cancelled for unknown reasons. An IBM version was also in development in Taiwan at the same time.


Untitled Puzzle Game

APPLE II DISKETTE [UNFINISHED]
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
An original Apple II puzzle game. While this game was worked on in the Taiwan office, it never appeared on the official Mattel Electronics release schedule.


Commodore Vic 20


Mission X

COMMODORE VIC 20 CARTRIDGE [UNRELEASED]
Based on the Data East USA arcade game
Produced by APh Technology Consulting for Mattel Electronics

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
APh sent this demo of the Data East arcade game (previously released for Intellivision) to Mattel to show their ability and willingness to program games for the Commodore Vic 20 home computer. In a terse letter, VP Gabriel Baum replied that Mattel Electronics had no interest in the Vic 20. It is not known how complete or playable the demo was.


Commodore 64


Illusions

COMMODORE 64 DISKETTE [#7857, UNFINISHED]
Produced by Mattel Electronics France for Mattel Electronics

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
This Commodore 64 version of Intellivision Illusions, a game then in development at the French office, was scheduled but never worked on.


Magic Carpet

COMMODORE 64 DISKETTE [#7860, UNFINISHED]
Produced by Mattel Electronics France for Mattel Electronics

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
This Commodore 64 version of Intellivision Magic Carpet, a game then in development at the French office, was scheduled but never worked on.


PizzaTime

COMMODORE 64 DISKETTE [#7858, UNFINISHED]
Featuring characters from the Data East USA arcade game, BurgerTime
Produced by Mattel Electronics France for Mattel Electronics

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
This Commodore 64 version of Intellivision PizzaTime, a game then in development at the French office, was scheduled but never worked on.


IBM PC


ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Treasure of Tarmin

IBM PC DISKETTE [#7746, UNFINISHED]
Trademark used under license of TSR Inc.
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics
Program: Philip Chang

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
IBM PC version of the previously released Intellivision Treasure of Tarmin cartridge. The game was still in development when Mattel Electronics closed.


BurgerTime

IBM PC DISKETTE [#4556]
Based on the Data East USA arcade game
Program: Gene Smith

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
As the burger chef, you're out to build delicious hamburgers. As you run through the colorful maze assembling the ingredients, nothing can stop you. Except menacing hot dogs and pickles that are out to ruin the meal! Bury them under beef patties, lettuce and buns. Or, knock them out with pepper. The game gets more difficult as you get better. (One or two players.)

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
IBM PC version of the Data East arcade game, previously released for Intellivision.

FUN FACT: The color card for an IBM PC had two monitor outputs: RGB and composite video. The standard PC color monitor was RGB and displayed 8 colors. However, a composite monitor (such as was standard for the Apple II) hooked up to the PC could display 16 colors. Few applications, though, used the additional available colors. Gene, however, wrote completely separate graphic routines to take full advantage of each type of monitor. The results on a composite monitor were stunning - even visiting representatives from IBM were shocked.

FUN FACT: The Apple II and IBM versions of BurgerTime have six additional levels not found in the arcade or Intellivision versions.


Lock 'N' Chase

IBM PC DISKETTE [#4555]
Based on the Data East USA arcade game
Program: Gene Smith
Revisions produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
A fast-action chase game as you maneuver your thief through the maze, picking up coins and other treasures. Billy-club swinging cops are in hot pursuit, but you can temporarily escape them by locking gates behind you. The longer you survive, the more valuable the treasures become. (One or two players.)

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
This is an Apple II version of the Data East arcade game, previously released for Intellivision. Gene Smith completed the game and it received final approval from Quality Assurance on September 30, 1983. But for some reason manufacturing was put on hold. Later the project was transferred to the Taiwan office for further development. What changes were being made is unknown. This revised version was still in development when Mattel Electronics closed.


Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man

IBM PC DISKETTE [UNFINISHED]
Based on the line of action figures from Mattel Toys
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics
Program: David Feng

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
An IBM PC version of the previously released Intellivision Masters of the Universe cartridge. The game was cancelled at some point during development for unknown reasons.


Mission X

IBM PC DISKETTE [UNRELEASED]
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics
Program: Victor Yu

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
An IBM PC version of the previously released Intellivision Mission X cartridge. The game was cancelled at some point during development for unknown reasons.


Night Stalker

IBM PC DISKETTE [#4553]
Program: Ji Wen Tsao
Graphics: Joe [Ferreira] King

CATALOG DESCRIPTION (January 1983, Consumer Electronics Show)
The relentless robots have you on the run. Destroy one, and it's replaced by an even faster and smarter one! There's a bunker to hide in, but be careful! The spiders and bats can give a stunning sting to slow you down and make you easy prey for the alien robots! (One or two players.)

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
IBM PC version of the Data East USA previously released for Intellivision.


Untitled Children's Game

IBM PC DISKETTE [UNFINISHED]
Produced by Mattel Electronics Ltd., Taiwan for Mattel Electronics
Program: Rachel Wuu

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
An original IBM children's game developed in the Taiwan office. Briefly on the official Mattel Electronics release schedule, but cancelled for unknown reasons. An Apple II version was also in development in Taiwan at the same time.


IBM PC Jr.


BurgerTime

IBM PC JR. CARTRIDGE [#7856, UNFINISHED]
Program: Wil Castillo

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
An IBM PC Jr. version of the previously released Intellivision BurgerTime cartridge. The game was in the very earliest stages of development when Mattel Electronics closed.


Flashlight

IBM PC JR. CARTRIDGE [#7852, UNFINISHED]
Program: Tony Ettaro

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
An IBM PC Jr. version using the Intellivision Flashlight effect, for which no gameplay had yet been determined. The game was in the very earliest stages of development when Mattel Electronics closed.


Illusions

IBM PC JR. CARTRIDGE [#7851, UNFINISHED]
Produced by Mattel Electronics France for Mattel Electronics

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
This IBM PC Jr. version of Intellivision Illusions, then in development at the French office, was scheduled but never worked on.


Magic Carpet

IBM PC JR. CARTRIDGE [#7854, UNFINISHED]
Produced by Mattel Electronics France for Mattel Electronics

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
This IBM PC Jr. version of Intellivision Magic Carpet, then in development at the French office, was scheduled but never worked on.


PizzaTime

IBM PC JR. CARTRIDGE [#7853, UNFINISHED]
Featuring characters from the Data East USA arcade game, BurgerTime
Produced by Mattel Electronics France for Mattel Electronics

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
This IBM PC Jr. version of Intellivision PizzaTime, then in development at the French office, was scheduled but never worked on.


Pirates of the Nile

IBM PC JR. CARTRIDGE [#7855, UNFINISHED]

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
This IBM PC Jr. version of the Apple II Pirates of the Nile, then nearing completion at the Taiwan office, was scheduled to be programmed at the California headquarters. With no programmer available, the game was immediately put on hold. It remained officially on hold when Mattel Electronics closed.


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