Simon Says (Magnavox Odyssey, 1972)

Simon Says: Their ubiquitous gaze haunts me to this day . . .Simon Says: Their ubiquitous gaze haunts me to this day . . .I was unable to cajole my son into playing this game with me, but since there is a kitty cat on the Überlay I was able to lure my three year old daughter into playing it. She enjoyed it so much, that she requested to play it again on three separate occasions since.

Simon Says is best played with three people. Two people each handling a controller and a third person who plays the role of Simon. Simon draws one of the provided off-screen accessory cards, reads it and says aloud: "Simon Says: fine the (body part indicated on card)". The players have to move their PlayerSpots from their starting square to the corresponding body-part on one of the colorful Überlay children or one of their strangely legless pets. The person who gets their PlayerSpot to the correct spot first, gets to keep the card. The person with the most cards wins the game.

If the person playing Simon chooses to make it so, then the role of Simon can be played as a crafty trickster, sometimes omitting the words "Simon Says" from the command phrase. The rule being, of course, that if Simon doesn’t say “Simon says” than nobody is supposed to move their PlayerSpot at all or suffer terrible consequences, such as the loss of a card. Being the playful, tormenting father that I am, I tried it that way but quickly discovered that I should probably wait until she turns four before trying to “fake out” my daughter. It just pissed her off in a very, “Why must you cause me such pain, Daddy?” kind of way. I changed the rule to Simon having to say “please” for a command to be followed. This was more easily understood by my daughter because it’s something my wife and I are drilling into her in real life. She enjoyed chirping back at me "You didn't say 'please'!" whenever I tried to trick her.

Despite not playing by the "official" rules, there was some desirable early childhood videogame bonding forming in my daughter’s brain. I'll go out on a limb and say that, as simple as it is, Simon Says isn't a bad game. My daughter has asked to play it again enough times that I'm going to give it a full point. I’m sure that she'd rather play Simon Says than watch Ultraman. Of course, she'd also probably rather watch, say, The Bugaloos than watch Ultraman so you may not find this game as fun as she has.

The Score: Ultraman: 4, Odyssey: 5

That takes care of all the games that actually came with the original Odyssey console as released in the United States. Next entry we’ll talk about the free, surprise game for which an Odyssey owner could send away – Percepts!. Be sure not to avoid it!