Atari vs Intellivision – Which was better?

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This is Part 3 of my Atari vs Intellivision series, if you haven’t seen the first two, please check those out here:



Atari was the clear dominator of home video game consoles in the “Golden Age” (1977-1982). However, it wasn’t for lack of competition. Many companies threw their hats into the ring, such as toy makers such as Mattel, Coleco, and Milton Bradley as well as other computer companies, such as Fairchild, Bally, and Magnavox. In this video, I compare the Atari Video Computer System (2600) with their first major competitor, the Mattel Intellivision.

Featured Games:
Donkey Kong
Defender / He-Man Masters of the Universe

Racing Games
Atari 2600: Dragster, Enduro, Pole Position
Intellivision: Auto Racing

Football Games
Atari: Football and Real Sports Football
Intellivision: NFL Football

Baseball Games
Atari: Home Run and Real Sports Baseball
Intellivision: Major League Baseball

If I come across a working ColecoVision, maybe I’ll add another video to this series.

#atari #intellivision #retrogaming

Thanks for watching!



  1. Mike S. on December 18, 2020 at 10:09 pm

    Intellivision = Sega Master System
    Atari = NES

    With that said I was a Intellivision/Sega Master System guy

  2. bigbabysld on December 18, 2020 at 10:09 pm

    Lets face it, I had the 2600…but the intellivision had the better graphics, but guess what Intellivision was blown away by the celecovision, a few years later the NES came out and not the game really begins to change,

  3. Smoking Uncle Frank on December 18, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    It’s hard to believe we grew up with these kind of games atari was my first system now that I’m much much older Ib can afford and have almost every popular system including a Vectrex as for games for it not to many but I do have a multi cart that makes up a lot great video

  4. Fermin Garrick on December 18, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    Atari is better 100 percent. .

  5. A.J. on December 18, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    I hope this guy has figured out to be prepared before he films a video – though i assume he does it this way to make his videos longer for YouTube benefits based on video length

  6. big nut on December 18, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    Honestly even back in the day both were pretty horrible. Once Coleco came out I gave those systems away.

  7. gsmith601 on December 18, 2020 at 10:14 pm

    When reviewing the controllers at the beginning I would have also shown the paddle controllers for the 2600.

  8. Hakapik on December 18, 2020 at 10:14 pm

    Intellivision had a SHITTY controller. Atari for the win.

  9. M1A 2A on December 18, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    Your good, love the channel

  10. John Boehmer on December 18, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    Truly a biased comparison, still no excuse for some of the overly harsh comments here.

    Still, the appearance of the unit itself? Their the same to me, but who really cares?

    Your bias becomes blatant in trying to call the far more functional Intellivision controller inferior because you "can’t hold it with one hand"…c’mon!

    That you’re almost always using non-Atari games as your Atari rep speaks volumes. Auto Racing was not the best, but reading the instructions does help. Use the brakes man! And as someone else stated here, the real fun is racing against others, and being able to drive off the road. The original version of the steering was problematic though.

    The football comparison was… really bad. How do you demo a game without even knowing how to play? Intellivision football is a ton o fun…you never even threw a pass! In the end, you couldn’t even acknowledge the infinite superiority of the Intellivision. I would really encourage you to learn how to play, you’ll really enjoy it.

    As far as the controllers go, the disc moved in 16 directions, the joystick moved in eight. I’m not sure why you would have less frustration with the Atari. The only way I could see the intellivision controller as being problematic is if you have a fast action-paced game which requires the usage of the 1-9 buttons, which you had no time to look to see to push the right one, so it became challenging to get used to feeling your way to push the right one. Fortunately though(and ironically), the only game that fits this description is baseball, one of the very few you seemed to like. But again, you got used to the Atari first, so moving to something different can be a disadvantage.

    The fact that Atari sold far, far more units than Intellivision has me very surprised that in this comment section people are preferring intellivision roughly 50 to 2, but that’s really just how obvious the difference is. What I did prefer about Atari games was the ability to play 1 player on all of them, where a few of the Intellivision games were two or more players only. Atari of course also had a lot of the arcade games we all wanted as kids. It’s advantages end right there though. Intellivision gameplay was always smoother, looked and sounded much better, and had more options to the game play, giving more interest, prolonging the enjoyment of it.

    Thanks for the video, though.

  11. GoldenPhonautogram on December 18, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    Oh, and also Masters of the Universe was on the Atari 2600 as well.
    And Donkey Kong on 2600 isn’t a stick figure– he’s a thicc figure.

  12. davids2000 on December 18, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    I guarantee he’s wearing yesterdays underwear.

  13. Jared T on December 18, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    It was incredible that they recreated the theme back then.

  14. dan west on December 18, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Subtle movement of the disc controller and braking before turns is key to playing Auto Racing well.

  15. Hadiatou Barry on December 18, 2020 at 10:22 pm

    Hello from 2020 👋🏾

  16. Kevin Mohan on December 18, 2020 at 10:23 pm

    You cant compare the machines. I know the Intellivision games took longer to learn to play. where as the Atari 2600 were 2nd rate copies of arcade originals having played both machines.  The atari certainly seemed to have inferior graphics and predominately they were a different style of game.  However compare the soccer games. intellivision was far better on sports game. night stalker loch an chase etc were also good games. However not all was bright on the intellivision I had 2 games which were shockers star strike which looked good but very poor playability and tron maze a tron a total meaningless game that was boring to a kid who was lying in traction in 1983 that I never really played it. That’s how I got my intellivision when my dad knew I was going into hospital for about 3 1/2 months and asked what I wanted. I was lucky my parents were covered by a bupa scheme.  it should also be remembered that intellivision come out after the Atari 2600

  17. CarnorJast1138 on December 18, 2020 at 10:23 pm

    Intellivision. Period. Still is the best of all-time. Oh, I had one, so I guess I a TAD biased! LOL!!!

  18. Chris Shaw on December 18, 2020 at 10:24 pm

    I had the intellivision and prefered it over over games…

  19. Not Sure on December 18, 2020 at 10:25 pm

    You should get a working colecovision. Way better than a 2600.

  20. svtcontour on December 18, 2020 at 10:25 pm

    I prefer the audio on the Atari I think

  21. Edward Brocklesby on December 18, 2020 at 10:27 pm

    great vid

  22. Reelphresh on December 18, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    Overwhelming landslide, Intel is way better then 2600 unless you are wearing nostalgia googles. I grew up with both of them as my first console along with the coleco. Born In 1980.

  23. johneygd on December 18, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    Sadly the intv has no replacible controllers because they’re hardwired while the atari 2600 controllers are not hardwired,, funny fact is that even the intv commercial did sayd that you don’t need other controllers,ahahaha.

  24. MAGNUM05 on December 18, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    I actually have both the Atari Video Computer System and Intellivision, including the Colecovision.

  25. AtariLeaf on December 18, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    I really like the Intellivision and think it has a fantastic library but I can’t get past that controller. It literally hurts my hand the way I have to hold it. I hear there’s a modern controller that someone on Atariage is selling but it’s pretty pricey

  26. tralfazruk1 on December 18, 2020 at 10:31 pm

    activision is intellivision designers making games for atari

  27. youhou2000youhou on December 18, 2020 at 10:32 pm

    The intellivision controller is the quickest and most precise ever BUT you have to understand that left hand is for grasping it and side buttons and right hand for disc. For Tron : Deadly Disks you have to switch hands: your right will activate the weapon with the keyboard and the left will direct your character. Plenty enough of people have scored giga high scores in intellivision games without finishing in a tree every 10 seconds like in your video. The Atari controller is one of the worst nightmares ever seen, toped only by the one of a "Philips Videopack" console. Needless to say more. / Edited to add : Forgot to say that only tourists would keep the overlay whilst playing…

  28. H Dean on December 18, 2020 at 10:34 pm

    I had both systems as a kid – still do have them. Really, other than getting accustomed to new games with different overlays, the intellivision was a superior console. I am wondering what the heck you were doing to have such difficulty with the football game. It always played like a dream for me, and the baseball game was actually the most enjoyable baseball game I have played on any console. Mind you – I am speaking of fun not accuracy. I will further add that the Atari controller, while handy as a joystick, suffered from being inaccurate. That is changes in direction were delayed. I remember throwing it down when I got that horrible Pac-Man port. Interestingly, the best games on the Atari2600 came in later years when they ported some Intellivision games like Baseball.

    Oh, as regards the Intellivision racing game: I did master it, but the controls were the opposite of intuitive. That took much patience to get to be able to play worth a damned.

  29. TrojanThugMusic on December 18, 2020 at 10:40 pm

    I Always went for the better machines.
    Atari vs intellivision? Intellivision
    C64 vs spectrum/Amstrad? C64
    Amiga vs Atari ST? Amiga
    Sega master system v Nintendo? Hmm, debatable…

  30. Mason Williams on December 18, 2020 at 10:40 pm

    Graphics didnt mean much back then because if the console runs the game and the controls and the game are good then graphics dont matter. Also all sports games suck.

  31. Arkdov on December 18, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    I know this might a tremendous shock for a lot of people, but E.T. happens to be one of my most favorite games on the Atari 2600.

  32. Glenn Shoemake on December 18, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    I love the vintage commercials added into your reviews. I had Atari 2600, my friend had Intellivision and we both played the games and never worried which was better. I loved playing Burgertime on Intellivision though.

  33. livebyfaith74 on December 18, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    I grew up with the Intellivision, but always envied the Atari because of all the games they had, but hadn’t played one. It wasn’t until I finally went to friends house and played their 2600 , that I realized that the Intellivison was much better. The controller was not great, but still better than the Atari. I have no idea how he had so much problem using one, my family all did fine with it when we were kids. The only win I would give the Atari is in popularity and number of games and high profile games. I didn’t know any other kids with an Intellivision growing up and felt left out of some of the playground discussions about games because they weren’t available on my system. But after comparing them I never felt bad about it again, I always felt that the gaming experience was better on Intellivision.

  34. James Temple on December 18, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    technically …. intellivision was superior … but, for just plain fun, Atari 2600 especially some of the later Activision games

  35. Digital Amp Co on December 18, 2020 at 10:46 pm

    My father was on the Play Cable design team, which provided games that downloaded over the cable system to Intellivision! This was WAY ahead of its time. Anyway, the engineers made tape drive systems to put all the games on tapes, so we had just about every available game. That was one thing that got me started with electronics as a kid. I was amazed at those tape drives and the whole system. The Intellivision was for people that were more intelligent. You mentioned about “anyone can walk up and play it”. Well, that’s nice for an 8 year old, but games like Utopia and Snafu were thinking games. By the way, in one part of the video, you didn’t have the overlay all the way in. Plus, there are finger holes on the sides of the cartridge holder, but you struggled to pull it out the wrong way. Mattel even did a better job at packaging. They were a class act. The hardware was based on chips from General Instrument; even the processor. I can say now as an engineer that the design of the Intellivision was vastly superior, but the controllers you seem to despise were much better as a user interface than the dumb Atari joystick. If you’re beyond basic, the Intellivision is likely more your style than the pong-ish Atari.

  36. Kevin Mohan on December 18, 2020 at 10:46 pm

    I had intellivision then in 1984 for 18th birthday got a commodore 64 and diskdrive  was pointless. eventually got an Atari stfm which was much better.  but as well all know in the late 70s and  eighties progress was phenomenal because technology was improving so fast. from the introduction of pong.  I had the benefit of seeing this as I grew up in a pub seeing the revolution from space invaders to galaga or packman a few years later.

  37. GoldenPhonautogram on December 18, 2020 at 10:47 pm

    I feel that the 2600 is better for several reasons:
    -Atari 2600 has a better library of arcade games and games in general
    -Some INTV games are too complicated for their own good
    -Not saying the 2600 controller is better, but it’s more replaceable than Intellivision 1 controllers and compatible with more controller options than the Intellivision 2 was
    -Atari 2600 is generally easier to collect for
    -VCS is easier to play with casual non-gamers
    -2600 units generally look nicer than INTV units (Vader and INTV1 are my favorite models of each system)
    Though the Intellivision did some things right:
    -Controller really isn’t bad at all
    -Has more buttons (2600 often ran into problems having only 1 button in games like Defender and Star Voyager)
    -Better sound chip
    -Cooler ad-ons
    -Nicer graphics

    But I do prefer the 2600. I have a 2600 but not an Intellivision, but I do have the INTV flashback system. I think the only way to play INTV games is with the keypad controller. Might hook that thing up today and give it another go. I liked it. SNAFU and Tunnel Runner are my favorites on each system.

  38. dan west on December 18, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    Also, if I remember correctly, different colored cars have different handling variables. It takes practice and observation to get used to it, and once you do you’ll be flying around the track without crashing.

  39. Andrew Powell on December 18, 2020 at 10:50 pm

    The Intellivision controller with many different buttons is much better. More buttons= more options. It also meant when you fired at something in games like NIGHT STALKER, you didn’t have to run right at it. You could fire while moving in another direction.

  40. Corby Ziesman on December 18, 2020 at 10:51 pm

    Now I have the music to NES Bases Loaded in my head.

  41. Chris Shaw on December 18, 2020 at 10:53 pm

    I had close to 40 games for my intellivision…enjoyed sea battle with my father and brothers

  42. KC9UDX on December 18, 2020 at 10:57 pm

    I get a kick out of the common complaint that you need two hands to use an Intellivision controller. Let’s see you use an Atari joystick one-handed.

  43. Sincere Eastman on December 18, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    Let’s see one crashed the gaming market in North America and the other one I never heard of…hm

  44. robert hill on December 18, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    Atari’s sucked intelivision is what i owned and played… sorry about your fat hand not being able to hold the controller .

  45. Luis Donado on December 18, 2020 at 11:00 pm

    I like that your wall matches the setting of these games!

  46. joe b on December 18, 2020 at 11:00 pm

    Colecovision enters: Hold my joystick.

  47. big nut on December 18, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    They were both garbage. I owned both systems and then I purchased a Colecovision and gave the other two systems away!

  48. IceTube on December 18, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    Gameboy’s are better I think.

  49. viperch25 on December 18, 2020 at 11:03 pm

    this is really pointless your comparing a newer gen console to a older one. and as far as the controller goes. intellivision was my first console, and yes the controller wasnt the best, but the fact that it had so many buttons ment you could do far more with a game. its like saying the nes controller was better then the snes because it was was simple

  50. Arkdov on December 18, 2020 at 11:05 pm

    When I was very young I had the chance to play both the Intellivision and Atari. Although the Intellivision was a superior machine I still preferred the games on the Atari 2600. Like being said, while the SNES got more popularity and dominated the 16-bit console wars, I still prefer the Sega Genesis over the SNES anytime. My personal choice.

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