1984 Planned Releases

During 1982, while video game companies weren't really paying attention, the video game fad ended. Teenagers switched their televisions to MTV; adults got hooked on the board game Trivial Pursuit. But more and more companies announced new titles for Atari, Intellivision and Colecovision.

Millions of games were on store shelves for Christmas 1982, but as 1983 started, retailers started returning millions of them unsold.

Thanks to a market of hardcore players, the demand for video games was still growing, but at a much slower rate than the manufacturers were churning out new cartridges.

Because they failed to keep up with this evolving marketplace, Mattel Electronics' top management was replaced in July 1983. Due to the development and manufacturing time for a game -- six months minimum, realistically around a year -- there was little effect on the 1983 product line, but the strategy for 1984 was radically different.

Fewer titles were to be released. Every title had to be produced for multiple systems to make marketing and advertising more efficient. M Network titles had already been released for Atari 2600IBM PC and the Apple II. Adding ColecoVisionCommodore 64 and other computers was planned.

Most titles were also required to have a licensing tie-in: an arcade game, a movie, a television show. A title would be released without a tie-in only if it had some feature or effect so innovative that marketing could build promotion of the game around that feature (for example, the 3-D glasses of Hover Force 3-D).


Also planned for 1984 was discontinuing the early Intellivision cartridges. Instead, the old 4K games were to have been bundled into 36K multi-game "albums" as new technology and falling ROM prices made larger cartridges possible.

Except for Go For The Gold (which recycled four Sports Network games in an Olympics-themed cartridge) and Party Line (which would have included three original games), no album cartridges were announced. But dozens of different combinations were proposed.

Most of these proposed albums were obvious -- sports games, action games -- but several interesting ideas came up. One was to use canceled or marginal (in Marketing's viewpoint) games so that one new title could be included on each cartridge (using Thin Ice to anchor a children's album was briefly considered). Another was to include the Intellivoice game Space Spartans on a space album, since it was only 8K, could be played at lower levels without voice, and might spark some sales of Intellivoice modules, which were gathering dust on store shelves.

Who knows? -- Magic CarouselAdventures of TRON and other shelved titles all might have finally seen the light of day, but Mattel Electronics closed in January 1984, before any album cartridge could be produced.

Target Andromeda


AKA: Star Quest

Design: John Tomlinson, Eric Wels, Jerry Moore

Program: John Tomlinson, Jerry Moore


The Federation is being invaded by an alien Empire. You must locate and neutralize their forward scout units while the navy prepares to attack the main force. You will be sent on missions to planetary systems of the Federation where you must stabilize the situation. You will go on 12 missions corresponding to the signs of the Zodiac with action relating to the sign characteristics. If you are successful, then you are selected for the Survey Scouts, a great honor.

A survey mission consists of exploring a planet, usually done "in Transfer": your "aura" or "essence of being" is projected into an intelligent lifeform on the planet. You become that creature physically, with all of its positive and negative aspects.

All planets and adventures are randomly generated; if you're not killed by the Empire, space pirates, or angry aliens, you will be able to adventure forever.


Eric Wels and John Tomlinson presented the original idea for the game, then called Star Quest, in a May 6, 1982 memo to their boss, Director Don Daglow (Utopia). They pictured it as a space Dungeons & Dragons.

Marketing had other ideas though: they wanted an Intellivision version of the arcade game Mission X, and John was assigned to do it.

While completing Mission X, John secretly worked on Star Quest. When Mission X was finished, he campaigned to be allowed to continue developing Star Quest, arguing that a substantial portion of it was already done.

His strategy worked. Although feeling the concept was too complicated (it was never put on the official release schedule or assigned a product number), management let John continue, with the caveat he make it more action, less strategy. Eric had left Mattel by this time, so new hire Jerry Moore was assigned to assist on the game, renamed Target Andromeda.

The game was killed in the aftermath of the July 1983 management upheaval.



Demo designed and programmed by Steve Roney


Experimenting, Steve Roney (Space Spartans) created a simple but effective Intellivision effect of moving a spotlight around a black screen to "illuminate" a small portion of a maze or other background.

Steve didn't have a game design in mind, but Marketing liked the effect. After checking with the Atari 2600 programmers that the same effect could be duplicated on that system, they ordered a game using the effect be developed for both Intellivision and Atari.

Despite the game being assigned a production number and entered on the schedule, no programmer was attached to the project and no actual work was done beyond Steve's initial demo.

(By this time, November - December 1983, people started to realize that Mattel Electronics would likely close soon. Marketing and management were pretty much going through the motions of scheduling and following through on game designs. A number of games, especially M Network titles, were casually added to the schedule without any programmer being assigned, or even being available.)

M Network versions were also scheduled for Atari 2600, Colecovision, and IBM PC Jr., but no work was done on these.



Developed at Nice Ideas (Mattel Electronics, France)


Peter Pepper, the chef from BurgerTime, returns to make pizzas.


With the success of BurgerTime, Marketing ordered up a sequel. With Ray Kaestner working on Masters of the Universe II, the game was sent to Mattel Electronics, France for development. (The Colecovision version of BurgerTime had been programmed at the French office.)

Jokingly called French Fries at first, the game was officially named once a pizza theme was decided upon. There was little time for actual work on the game, though, before Mattel Electronics closed.

M Network versions were also scheduled for Colecovision, IBM PC Jr., and Commodore 64, but no work was done on these.

Magic Carpet


Developed at Nice Ideas (Mattel Electronics, France)


Pilot a magic flying carpet.


Another original idea from the French office, this title appears to have been added to the schedule based on a written proposal; a prototype of the game was never seen at Mattel Electronics' California headquarters.

M Network versions were scheduled for Colecovision, IBM PC Jr., and Commodore 64, but no work was done on these.



AKA: Speedboat

Design/program/sound effects: Joshua Jeffe

Graphics: Joe [Ferreira] King


A point-of-view speedboat race.


Josh and Joe put together an impressive demo of the point-of-view effect, racing over a lake. But Hydroplane was mostly memorable for the high-decibel shouting matches Josh and Joe got into over the design of the game. Very little was done before Mattel Electronics closed.

An M Network Atari 2600 version and a Colecovision version were planned, but little work was done on the former and none on the latter.