Saturday, April 28, 2018

Intellivision manual for "The Power of He-Man"

This is the cover of the 12-page, staplebound manual for the 1983 Intellivision game "Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man." It measures 4 inches by 6 inches, and, yes, He-Man has a disturbing lack of clothes.

Let me throw in some full disclosure here: As a kid, I was never interested, not one iota, in any of He-Man/Skeletor/Masters of the Universe toys or shows. It's probably as simple as the fact that I was born in 1970 and the MoTU hoo-ha, which didn't ramp up until 1982-1984, was probably aimed more at the age group right behind me. It's not like I had become cultured at that point; it's just that the toys of the late 1970s — including Star Wars, of course — were more my jam.

Also, I have never played this particular Intellivision game. Because of Dad's work connections, we had an Intellivision in our house very early, probably sometime in the second half of 1979. So we played a lot of Intellivision in the 1980s, but never this cartridge. I just happened to acquire this old manual as part of a lot of videogame ephemera.

Separate versions of this game were rushed out for both the Intellivision and the Atari 2600 for the Christmas 1983 shopping season.

The website Comma Eight Comma One, seeking to mitigate the Lost Corners of the Internet, includes a reposting of a "The Power of He-Man" review that had originally appeared Retro Retreat. It gives the game 8 stars (out of 10), praising the game-play but lamenting the shortness of the game. Here's an excerpt:
"The main objective is to stop Skeletor from taking the power of Castle Grayskull for himself. As such, there are two main stages to the game. A shoot 'em up level, and a boss level. ... The Intellivision version runs much faster though, and so players will have to think a lot faster. The graphics are also a lot better. The discs appear as deadlier fireballs, and Skeletor's henchmen run back, and forth along the bottom making them more difficult to hit. ... The main drawbacks with these games are the short length, and repetitiveness. These don’t have the same satisfaction as the 'Hi-Score' games of the time in terms of gameplay. MOTUTPOHM does do what it does well. It's a really fun, and well made licensed game which is a sad rarity in any era of video games."
Additionally, you can find a behind-the-scenes history of this game's development at And you can find plenty of videos of how the game plays on YouTube.

Here are some excerpts and additional illustrations from the manual:

  • "THE ADVENTURE: HE-MAN™ leaps into his WIND RAIDER™ and takes off. You have 5 chances with which to fly him to the edge of the wilderness realm of SKELETOR™, 30 miles away. There is limited fuel for the perilous journey through swarms of fireballs. If your fuel runs low or you're hit by a fireball, you lose a chance."
  • "GETTING STARTED. Slide the POWER OF HE-MAN keypad overlay(s) into the Hand Controller(s)."

  • "USING THE SIDE ACTION BUTTONS. PHASE 1 — WIND RAIDER: Press either upper side button to rapid-fire the cannon. The gun will continue firing as long as the button is held down. Press either lower side button to drop bombs. Just touch it for a single release or hold it down for a volley."
  • "When you're within 5 miles of touchdown, the mileage display starts flashing."
  • "PHASE 2 — GROUND ATTACK. BASIC MANUEVERING AND COMBAT STRATEGY: HE-MAN must catch SKELETOR 3 times — through mountains, forest and finally in CASTLE GRAYSKULL ... THERE IS A TIME LIMIT in which to get across all 3 screens. ... If you don't get HE-MAN across in time, he's carried off in the magic cyclone spell of SKELETOR."
  • "You earned a 10,000 point bonus for crossing a screen without raising the shield."
  • "Red lightning-balls can knock you all the way back."
  • "VARIATIONS: You can play alone, or 2 can alternate and compare scores. It's also fun for 2 to use both controllers at the same time, either working together or dividing up the battle tasks. In any case, the name of the game is 'HAVE FUN!'"

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