The Videopac G7200, unlike Videopac G7000, had a 9" (23 cm) black & white display built in.
The original Odyssey had a number of removable circuit cards that switched between the built-in games. With the Odyssey², each game could be a completely unique experience, with its own background graphics, foreground graphics, gameplay, scoring, and music. The potential was enormous, as an unlimited number of games could be individually purchased; a game player could purchase a library of video games tailored to his or her own interest. Unlike any other system at that time, the Odyssey² included a full alphanumericmembrane keyboard, which was to be used for educational games, selecting options, or programming (Magnavox released a cartridge called Computer Intro! with the intent of teaching simple computer programming).
The Odyssey² used the standard joystick design of the 1970s and early 1980s: the original console had a moderately-sized silver controller, held in one hand, with a square housing for its eight-direction stick that was manipulated with the other hand. Later releases had a similar black controller, with an 8-pointed star-shaped housing for its eight-direction joystick. In the upper corner of the joystick was a single 'Action' button, silver on the original controllers and red on the black controllers. The games, graphics and packaging were designed by Ron Bradford and Steve Lehner.
One other difference in these controllers is that the earliest releases of the silver joystick were removable. They could be plugged and unplugged from the back of the unit, while all later silver and all black controllers were hardwired into the rear of the unit itself (although the joysticks still can be easily replaced, but not without dismounting the cover deck).
One of the strongest points of the system was its speech synthesis unit, which was released as an add-on for speech, music, and sound effects enhancement. The area that the Odyssey² may be best remembered for was its pioneering fusion of board and video games: The Master Strategy Series. The first game released was Quest for the Rings!, with gameplay somewhat similar to Dungeons & Dragons, and a storyline reminiscent of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Later, two other games were released in this series, Conquest of the World and The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt, each with its own gameboard.
Its graphics and few color choices, compared to its biggest competitors at the time—the Atari 2600, Mattel's Intellivision and the Bally Astrocade—were its "weakest point". Of these systems, the Odyssey² was listed by Jeff Rovin as being the third in total of sales, and one of the seven major video game suppliers.
The console sold moderately well in the US. It was one of the three primary consoles prior to mid-1982, though a distant third, after the Atari 2600 and Mattel Intellivision. By 1983 over one million Odyssey² units were sold in the US alone.
To sell would-be customers on its technical abilities as a computer-based console, the Odyssey² was marketed with phrases such as "The Ultimate Computer Video Game System", "Sync-Sound Action", "True-Reality Synthesization", "On-Screen Digital Readouts" and "a serious educational tool" on the packaging for the console and its game cartridges. All games produced by Magnavox/Philips ended with an exclamation point, such as K.C. Munchkin! and Killer Bees!.
European models had no power button, and black action buttons
In Europe, the Odyssey² did very well on the market. In Europe, the console was most widely known as the Philips Videopac G7000, or just the Videopac, although branded variants were released in some areas of Europe under the names Philips Videopac C52, Radiola Jet 25, Schneider 7000, and Siera G7000. Philips, as Magnavox's Dutch parent company, used their own name rather than Magnavox's for European marketing. A rare model, the Philips Videopac G7200, was only released in Europe; it had a built-in black-and-white monitor. Videopac game cartridges are mostly compatible with American Odyssey² units, although some games have color differences and a few are completely incompatible. A number of additional games were released in Europe that never came out in the US.
In Brazil, the console was released as the Philips Odyssey; the Magnavox Odyssey was released in Brazil by a company named "Planil Comércio", not affiliated to Philips or Magnavox. Since just a few units were sold, the Brazilian branch of Philips released in 1983 Odyssey² without its number. Odyssey became much more popular in Brazil than it ever was in the US; tournaments were even held for popular games like K.C.'s Krazy Chase! (Come-Come in Brazil). Titles of games were translated into Portuguese, sometimes creating a new story, like Pick-axe Pete, that became Didi na Mina Encantada (Didi in the Enchanted Mine) referring to Renato Aragão's comedy character, and was one of the most famous Odyssey games in Brazil.
The Odyssey² was released in Japan in December 1982 by Kōton Trading Toitarii Enterprise (コートン・トレーディング・トイタリー・エンタープライズ, a division of DINGU company) under the name オデッセイ２ (odessei2). "Japanese" versions of the Odyssey² and its games consisted of the American boxes with katakana stickers on them and cheaply printed black-and-white Japanese manuals. The initial price for the console was ¥49,800, which is approximately 500 US dollars. It was apparently not very successful; Japanese Odyssey² items are now very difficult to find.
16-color fixed palette; sprites may only use 8 of these colors
4 8×8 single-color user-defined sprites; each sprite's color may be set independently
12 8×8 single-color characters; must be one of the 64 shapes built into the ROM BIOS; can be freely positioned like sprites, but cannot overlap each other; each character's color may be set independently
4 quad characters; groups of four characters displayed in a row
9×8 background grid; dots, lines, or solid blocks
Intel 8244/8245 custom IC
24-bit shift register, clockable at 2 frequencies
NOTE: There is only one 8244/8245 chip in the system, which performs both audio and video functions.
Two 8-way, one-button, digital joysticks. In the first production runs of the Magnavox Odyssey and the Philips 7000, these were permanently attached to the console; in later models, they were removable and replaceable.
Péritel/SCART connector (France only Videopac C52)
ROM cartridges, typically 2 KB, 4 KB, or 8 KB in size.
Videopac with chess module
The Voice: provides speech synthesis and enhanced sound effects
Chess Module: the Odyssey² did not have enough memory and computing power for a decent implementation of chess on its own, so the C7010 chess module contained a secondary CPU with its own extra memory to run the chess program
Videopac+/Jopac-compatible only, Microsoft Basic. (The rare C7420 Home Computer Module, made available in 1983 by Philips, was a costly extension for the newer Videopac+ and Jopac consoles only. It went with a thick A4 manual, and required an optional external tape recorder to save the programs. This module was the sole valuable justification of the presence of a so-called keyboard, which was supposedly designed to look like an hybrid educational toy, as read in header lines describing earlier this family of pluri-purpose consoles, even in the TV commercials that echoed the slogan written on these brand-new machines: “Video Computer”. Unfortunately, this late niche concept, even limited to learning game code contrary to the more professional packaging, could not resist at all the already overwhelming market of the real 8-bit home computers, where the Atari 400 shared the same look in 1979, surprisingly. [The latter was advertised itself: « The affordable home computer that's easy to use even for people who've never used a computer before ».] This expensive module is not to be confused with the cheap cartridge #9: Computer Intro!)