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Simon Game

Simon

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Simon is an electronic game of rhythm and memory skill invented by Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison (See U.S. Patent 4207087), with the software programming being done by Lenny Cope and manufactured and distributed by Milton Bradley. Simon was launched in 1978 at Studio 54 in New York City and became an immediate success. It became a pop culture symbol of the 1980s.

The marketing slogan of Simon was: Simon's a computer, Simon has a brain, you either do what Simon says or else go down the drain.

Game Play

The game unit has four large buttons, one each of the colors red, blue, green, and yellow. The unit lights these buttons in a sequence, playing a tone for each button; the player must press the buttons in the same sequence. The sequence begins with a single button chosen randomly, and adds another randomly-chosen button to the end of the sequence each time the player follows it successfully. Game play ends when the player makes a mistake or when the player wins (by matching the pattern for a predetermined number of tones).

The game has three variations, set by a switch on the front of the case, with a second switch setting one of four difficulty levels.

  • Simon Says (Game 1)
    • The player simply follows along as described above (with four difficulty levels requiring the player to match a sequence of 8, 14, 20, or 31 tones).
  • Player Says (Game 2)
    • The player makes his own sequence at any of the four difficulty levels. Simon chooses the first tone, and then the player can make any sequence he wants.
  • Choose Your Color (Game 3)
    • A multi-player game in which each player takes one or more colors. When Simon presents a pattern, the player must only push his own color in sequence. Hitting your color out of sequence causes it to be eliminated. Simon then starts over with the three remaining colors, then two, and the last player left is the winner.

It is named for the simple children's game of Simon says, but the game play is based on Atari's unpopular Touch Me arcade game from 1974. Simon differs from Touch Me in that the Touch Me buttons were all the same color (black) and the sounds it produced were harsh and grating.

Simon's tones, on the other hand, were designed to always be harmonic, no matter what order they were played in, and consisted of:

  • A (red, upper right);
  • A (green, upper left, an octave higher than the upper right);
  • D (blue, lower right, a perfect fourth higher than the upper right);
  • G (yellow, lower left, a perfect fourth higher than the lower right).

Simon was later re-released by Milton Bradley (now owned by Hasbro), in its original circular form, though with a translucent case rather than plain black. It was also sold as a two-sided "Simon Squared" version, with the reverse side having eight buttons for head-to-head play, and as key chain (officially licensed by Fun4All) with simplified game play (only having Game 1, Difficulty 4 available). Other variations of the original game, no longer produced, include Pocket Simon and the eight-button Super Simon, both from 1980. Finally, Nelsonic released an official wristwatch version of Simon in an unknown year.

Current versions of the game being sold include a pocket version of the original game in a smaller, yellow, oval-shaped case; Simon Trickster, which plays the original game as well as variations where the colors shift around from button to button, where the buttons have no colors at all, or where the player must repeat the sequence backwards; and a pocket version of Simon Trickster.

Clones

As a popular game, it inspired many imitators and knock offs of the basic concept hoping to cash in on the Simon craze.

Most notably, Atari released a handheld version of Touch Me later in 1978, with multicolored buttons and pleasant musical tones. Despite being named for their older arcade game, the handheld Touch Me contained Simon's three game variations and four difficulty levels, albeit with limits of 8, 16, 32, and 99 instead of 8, 14, 20 and 31. Even its button layout mirrored Simon's, with blue in the upper-left, yellow in the upper-right, red in the lower-left, and green in the lower-right, the same layout as Simon turned upside-down. Its only truly unique features were a LED score display, similar to the one its arcade counterpart had, and its small size, similar to a pocket calculator. For those reasons as well as its late timing, Touch Me was generally derided as a clone of Simon.

Other clones include:

  • Tiger Electronics' Copy Cat in 1979, and re-released with a transparent case in 1988 o Also released as Copy Cat Jr. in 1981
  • Castle Toy's Einstein in 1979
  • Space Echo by an unknown company.
  • Copy Cat was re-packaged and released by Sears as Follow Me
  • Copy Cat Jr. was similarly released by Radio Shack as Pocket Repeat
  • Makezine has a version you can make yourself called gamekit that requires you solder it together.
  • A Star Wars version featuring R2D2 sounds (Tiger Electronics, 1997).

The same game play also appears on multi-game handheld's such as:

  • Mego Corporation's Fabulous Fred (Game 3, The Memory Game)
  • Parker Brothers' Merlin (Game 3, Echo).
  • Atari also included a nine-button version of Touch Me as game variations 1-4 (out of 19) on the 1978 Brain Games cartridge for the Atari 2600.
  • World of Warcraft includes a daily quest with Ogri'la, that mimics Simon

References