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Brain Games

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Brain Games, Atari VCS, 1978

 

Simon and Merlin were two of my favorite games from this era in my life. I think that back in the day I would've really enjoyed the memory sequence game experience as translated to my TV screen by Brain Games. This was my first time playing this cart.

 

Brain Games uses the Atari Keypad technology to transform your TV into a memory challenger, for one or two players. The different games are Touch Me, Count Me, Picture Me, Find Me, Add Me, Play Me and Bite Me. Okay, not the last one, but my level of professionalism demanded that I include it.

 

In Touch Me and Count Me, you use the keypad to match the tone or number sequence produced by the game. Each time you get it correct, the game adds one more to the sequence and you have to match it again. You can match a sequence up to 32 tones/numbers long and you have four chances to try again if you get it wrong along the way. Two-player games have each player taking turns inputting the playback sequence. If you want to make it more exciting you can pretend that there's going to be a "nukular" meltdown somewhere when you fail. We picked Seattle for, um, no reason whatsoever. icon_ponder.gif

 

Picture Me shows four simple pictures in a particular order which you must then match. Strangely, this was harder for me than either Touch Me or Count Me. I guess it's because I'm much more of a music/numbers person than a visual person. Maybe my brain was just full after playing Touch/Count Me. Yes, I'm embarrassed I failed at it and I'm making excuses for my early onset senility.

 

Find Me shows four almost identical pictures and you have to pick out the one that's "different" in as short amount of time as possible.

 

Add Me shows you numbers and you add them up, lickety-split. Put your answer in with the keyboard. *yawn* I didn't like this because it showed me how lazy I've become when it comes to adding numbers in my head.

 

Play Me is fun! Your Atari, via the keypads, becomes a musical instrument. While it is limited in its range and expression, the novelty of playing duets on a videogame holds up pretty well. The instruction book even comes with some number sequences to help the musically impaired tap out a few tunes.

 

I have little to say about the graphics because they are exceptionally simple yet serve their purpose. It's just boxes to help hold the numbers and simple pictures or to give a relative location of the keys you need to hit. It is really the bare minimum. What is important to understand about these games, especially Touch Me and Count Me, is that the game play isn't really on the screen, it's in your head. Brain Games does a good job of facilitating the Brain play.

 

Next entry: Outlaw aka Gunfighter.

 

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I hadn't seen this entry before. The keypads weren't terribly popular, and the cartridge is really boring without one, but it's not a bad cart for when it came out. Interesting that the game uses both high-resolution and low-resolution digits. Sorta odd, actually, since using high-resolution digits for everything would have taken less code.

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I hadn't seen this entry before.  The keypads weren't terribly popular, and the cartridge is really boring without one, but it's not a bad cart for when it came out.  Interesting that the game uses both high-resolution and low-resolution digits.  Sorta odd, actually, since using high-resolution digits for everything would have taken less code.

 

!!! Hmm, I didn't notice that. You're right, of course. Low-res for the scores and high-res for the sequence numbers. From what I've read Atari was scrambling to come up with keyboard games because of the Odyssey^2. Maybe they used the low res for the scores because they could copy the code from a previous game? In this case, "time" might have been harder to come by than code space. Interesting though.

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Maybe they used the low res for the scores because they could copy the code from a previous game? In this case, "time" might have been harder to come by than code space. Interesting though.

 

Using the same code to show the sequence number and the scores would not have been difficult if the two player's scores were shown on different lines. Even with their scores on the same line, it would have been no more difficult than the 2x2 digit lores score routine. In "Combat", using high-resolution score routines would have required tracking objects' horizontal positions, complicating things. But Brain Games relocates the sprites horizontally multiple times per frame anyway, so doing a couple more wouldn't have been any extra work.

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Bite Me

 

HAHA

 

I liked all the variations. I just sucked at the Add Me modes where the timer went down too fast. Not just because the adding was a bit difficult to do in such a short time, but also because I was using the keyboard and the default key assignments were very bad to type in numbers quickly (1-3, Q-E, A-D, and X). And I didn't feel like changing them for just that variation.

 

About the discussion above, I think you guys missed the programmer/designer's goal. He basically opted for diversity, using one "font" for the score, and another for the gameplay. I think it makes sense, and since space wasn't probably an issue with game, he could afford the extra code. Also, he could have wanted to be consistent with the other games, thus sticking to low-res numbers for the mode selection and scoring.

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