In the late 70’s, a wondrous invention burst onto the scene in the form of an electronic game simply known as Simon. This name comes from the analog kids game where an little autocratic leader is chosen to shout out orders that should only be performed if preceded by the phrase “Simon Says.” The gameplay for this, however, was based on an extremely unpopular early 70’s arcade game from Atari which was unfortunately named “Touch Me.” To play Simon, you had to memorize a sequence of flashing colored lights and sounds and then repeat it by pressing the buttons in the correct order. More colors would be added to the sequence and the game would get progressively longer, faster and more complex until it felt like your brain might explode. Or, worse, if you messed up and pressed the wrong button, you’d get a terrifying “RAZZ” sound that made it seem as if the machine was angry at your incompetence and actually attempting to electrocute you. It was super fun!
These days, this game still shows up as an icon of the late 70’s and 80’s. It actually premiered at the infamous Studio 54 in New York for the first time, so it was pretty much destined to be a piece of pop culture. Since then, there have been a myriad of new variations, but you can still get one close to this original version today. There are even pocket versions available. I had a version called “Pocket Simon” in the 80’s, but back then it was just another word for portable. You really couldn’t fit anything labeled “pocket-sized” into your trousers, unless you happened to be wearing M.C. Hammer pants. Which I never wore, because I was still a bit chubby then, and already worried that my hips looked too much like a girl’s. But it was still cool to have a version you could easily jam into your backpack, at least.
I think playing this game helped give me a good memory later in life. I always found memorization easy in school, but sometimes to a fault as I could ace a test and have absolutely no clue what the subject was even about. This never happened with topics I was actually interested in, thankfully. But I loved trying to beat this game and play through a complete 31 signal sequence. If you made it that far, according to the instructions, you would blow Simon’s mind and memory and he would “RAZZ” himself. That all sounds incredibly sinister looking back now, but it’s another of those wonderful childhood memories I cherish. Life can get so hectic and seem complex, but there was always that wonderful time in our lives when none of that mattered. Can you remember?