Emerson does... what most game systems do better.

You're face to face with what could quite possibly be the worst game system in the history of mankind, ladies and gentlemen. The Emerson Arcadia 2001 (aka the German Hominex HMG2650, alias the Italian Leonardo...) was released in 1982 alongside such revolutionary game systems as the ColecoVision, Atari 5200, and Vectrex, and yet is unquestionably less powerful than consoles designed in the late 70's.

The Arcadia's games range from mediocre to utterly absymal, with unimpressive sound effects and tiny, microbial graphics that can't help but make you wonder whether you're playing American Football or examining the contents of a Petri dish. And the controllers are no picnic, either... Emerson, in its eternal wisdom, hardwired them into the console, so if either of them break, you're forced to have the entire system repaired or replaced.

Put simply, the only entertainment you'll get from the Emerson Arcadia is the comedic value of its games' poorly written instruction booklets and laughably bad box artwork. Here are some very brief reviews and descriptions of the "best" the Arcadia has to offer...

3D Bowling: Probably the best sports title available on the system, which isn't saying much. More colorful (but also more blocky) than the Intellivision adaptation of the sport.

Alien Invaders: Amusing Space Invaders knock-off with teeny-tiny invaders which erase any backgrounds they touch and seem to move downward at random. Plays OK but believe me, it ain't Space Invaders '91.

American Football: Plays more like a board game than a video game. The graphics (composed of tiny white men against a gaudy green field) will have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief/agony.

Astro Invaders:  This lends credibility to the claim that Emerson Arcadia software was better in other countries than it was here in the United States.  I'd like to credit Konami for this game's success, but Astro Invaders on the Arcadia is actually faster and more fun than the arcade version, even if the colors are hideous and the graphics are functional at best.  Sadly, "functional" is the best you can hope for when you're talking about graphics on the Arcadia.

Breakaway: Breakout as played with the Arcadia's miserable disc controllers. Are we having fun yet?

Capture: At least the Odyssey2 version of Gomoku had a futuristic Buddha on the front of the cartridge... Very, very, VERY blocky graphics.

Cat Trax: Pac-Man meets Lock 'n Chase meets Mouse Trap. Games like this are supposed to be cute... this one's just plain creepy. Typically microbial Arcadia graphics.

Crazy Gobbler:  It's a standard Pac-Man clone which apparently uses the same engine as Cat Trax.  That means you'll have to put up with the same simple graphics and the enemies' constant droning noise, which makes them a little more intimidating, but mostly just obnoxious.

Escape: It's Berzerk with microscopic graphics and a spinner in place of (the much cooler) Evil Otto. Better than most games on the system but it's very slow and not a lot of fun to play.

Funky Fish: Oh yeah, now that's one funky fish, baby.  I dare say that this release is actually good.  Did I just say that an Emerson Arcadia game was good?  Wow, I must really be losing it.  Anyway, Funky Fish is best described as an early precursor to Fantasy Zone. Your fish (who is, of course, funky) blasts strange creatures produced by generators, briefly turning them into that ever popular early video game staple, cherries.  Exhaust the generator's supply of enemies and you can dock inside them for extra points.  Hey, nobody said it had to make sense... it plays well and the fish is pretty detailed, and on the Arcadia that's more than good enough.

Galaxian: A prototype that never came to fruitition. Doesn't look too shabby for an Arcadia game, but man does it pale in comparison to Atarisoft's ColecoVision translation.

Grand Slam Tennis: Responsive control... from one side of the screen. The other player can never return serves because he's just too damned slow. The Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's is more exciting.

Hobo:  The Arcadia's rather tastelessly themed answer to Freeway on the 2600.  The isometric graphics are a surprise on the system, but it's tough to say what you're supposed to be once your homeless hero reaches the other side of the road.

Jump Bug:  This wasn't a spectacular arcade game, so you can't really blame the Arcadia for this unenjoyable home conversion.  Wait a minute... sure you can!  The graphics are presented in colors so bright and gaudy that your eyeballs might not survive the experience.  They sure as hell won't find the tiny enemies hidden inside this interior decorator's worst nightmare.

Jungler: I'll never know how Konami got mixed up in the Emerson Arcadia debacle, but here's the proof. Avoid your tail and rival dragons in this, one of the system's few enjoyable games.

Pleiades: We couldn't expect Dead or Alive quality from this early Tecmo game, but it would have been nice to have at least gotten Pleiades quality.  This mediocre shooter is made even crummier with the Arcadia's wimpy hardware and the world's most poorly chosen color schemes.  Good luck trying to find the flickery green and blue aliens set against the milky white background.

R 2 D Tank:  Mmm, copyright infringement.  Surprisingly, the game has nothing to do with Star Wars... think of Pac-Man with wide open spaces and a demented tank constantly chasing you, and you've got the basic idea.  Sometimes even the dots will turn against you, turning into land mines that are deadly to the touch.  Come to think of it, everything in the game seems to be dangerous but you... how the heck do you defend yourself?

Route 16:  I liked the arcade version of this game, and it holds up as well as you could expect on the Arcadia.  You have to wonder why they even bothered adding sound to the map screen when it's as annoying and repetitive as it is, but oh well... at least the gameplay is intact.  In case you're wondering, Route 16 plays a little like Rally-X, except the items are hidden inside sixteen rooms each containing their own simplified mazes.

Soccer: Could have been renamed Non-American Football. It's got the same tiny graphics and everything, although the play mechanics have been altered (somewhat).

Space Attack: Galaxian with a Megamania-style fuel gauge. Better than most games on the system, but is that really saying much?

Space Chess: Sounds kinda interesting but looks pretty ugly. I wonder if George Lucas sued Emerson for the game's suspiciously familiar box artwork?

Space Mission: It's Defender, but crappier. Drop bombs on bases and stuff. Even worse than Freedom Fighters for the Odyssey2.

Space Vultures: A Pheonix clone without the towering mothership at the end of each level. Very choppy with monocolored characters.

Super Gobbler:  Well, it's better than Crazy Gobbler... a little, anyway.  Guide an enlongated Pac-Man through a redesigned maze, munching dots, energizers, and cherries that look like pairs of headphones.  It's tough to decide what's more annoying... the chirping, droning, and completely aimless sound effects, or the uneven speed of your Pac- uh, Gobbler, who races around the maze with ease after eating an energizer but switches back to turtle speed once the power pill has run out.


tech specs


Signetics 2650




512 bytes


carts, 8K max


2 channel










are you kidding?

best games

Funky Fish

worst games

everything else