You have just acquired the ultimate video game system! Your Odyssey2 is even more sophisticated than most arcade games. It employs state-of-the-art electronic technology which was unthinkable only a few years ago...Your Odyssey2 has been engineered to give you many years of fun and entertainment.
Though Magnavox had used the Odyssey brand to release a slew of successors to the original Magnavox Odyssey, these were largely dedicated console variations of the ball-and-paddle concept refined by Atari's Pong. The Odyssey's true successor would be the Odyssey2, Magnavox's first console to use programmable ROM cartridges. Thanks to a competitive partnership, Intel provided the bulk of the console's silicon, including the 8048 CPU and the custom 8244 game chip, one of the first to feature a sprite-based architecture for freely positioning bitmapped graphics onscreen. Despite a small but inventive software lineup (primarily programmed by Intel's Ed Averett) and an innovative console design that included a full alphanumeric keyboard, weak support from Magnavox and a strong competitive head start from Atari hampered Odyssey2's market expansion in the U.S. However, under the Videopac moniker, the Odyssey2 found wider success in European countries.
|Graphics||4 8x8-pixel, monochrome sprites; 8-row x 9-column background grid of blocks with individually-controllable line segments; 12 foreground (8x7-pixel) characters selectable from the 64-character internal character set|
|Sound||Intel 8244 (24-bit shift register clocked out at one of two frequencies to produce a square wave w/ optional noise generator)|
|Input||2x hardwired/detachable (model-dependent) 8-way joysticks with Fire button; full QWERTY membrane keyboard|
Philips Videopac G7000
The Voice (voice synthesis expansion module)
Though both documents are over a decade old, O2EM emulator author Dan Boris' "Odyssey 2 Technical Specs V1.1" PDF and Sören Gust's "Videopac G7000 BIOS Introduction" (available via Internet Archive) are still the recommended starting points for Odyssey2 programming. The former provides a technical overview of the Odyssey's capabilities, including register locations and descriptions for controlling sprites, input, sound, etc. The latter builds on the technical specs document and provides a more descriptive detail of how to set up an appropriate assembler, write your first program, and other software pointers.
René van den Enden's VIDEOPAC tech info site offers additional documentation 8048 instruction set, the Odyssey's internal character set, circuit diagrams, and other useful resources.
Finally, AtariAge member atari2600land has assembled a small "beginner's guide" for Odyssey2 programming, which includes a .zip file with some necessary assembly tools and a simple sprite movement demo.
Odyssey2's Intel 8048 processor is programmed in MCS-48 assembly language. The MCS-48 group comprises a series of related microcomputers with a shared instruction set (i.e., 8048, 8748, 8035, 8049, 8039, 8022, and 8021). For more details, see Documentation below.