If you’re old enough to have seen the original “Star Wars” in theaters, then you likely also remember Milton-Bradley’s Simon, the deceptively simple electronic memory game in which players mashed buttons to repeat an increasingly complex series of flashing lights and synthesized beeps.
Now the two worlds of wonderment are colliding with "Star Wars" Simon, which substitutes the game's traditional saucer shape for Darth Vader’s iconic helmet.
A fresh take on the vintage game, which is antiquated by today’s standards, "Star Wars" Simon still packs a nostalgic punch for those who still enjoy the lo-fi wonders that preceded today’s high-power gaming consoles and smartphones.
The shape isn’t the only difference between “Star Wars" Simon and its classic predecessor. The iconic color panels appear to be black on the “Star Wars” version. It looks like an innocuous Vader head, but when you switch it on and start playing, the buttons light up and the game’s bright hues are revealed. You can see the game in action in a video at Gizmodo.
Another important difference is in its musical tones. Instead of a single note for each button, the game unfurls John William’s iconic “Imperial March” as the light pattern lengthens. This makes game play a little more challenging than the regular version, as the visual cues do not always correspond to the same audio cues.
Despite the many advances in consumer electronics in the ensuing decades since the game’s 1978 release, Hasbro has continued to release new variations on the game, which was co-invented by toy designer Howard J. Morrison and engineer Ralph H. Baer.
Baer is the mind behind the 1972 Magnavox Odyssey, the world’s first commercially available home gaming console. He came up with the idea of playing games on a television set in 1951, but only started working on a prototype in 1966, developing the “brown box” that would eventually become the Odyssey. He also invented the light gun, a pistol that allows player to “shoot” at on-screen targets, and which became the first commercial video game add-on accessory.
Ironically, it was the success of the Odyssey home console that led to the creation of video arcade games, not the other way around. Atari’s Nolan Bushnell was inspired by Baer’s “Table Tennis” game to create “Pong,” the first commercial coin slot video game.
Simon continues to enthrall gamers, years after its release. And if you ever thought the game has a disco vibe that recalls the “Saturday Night Fever” dance floor, you probably had the same thought as the marketing executives at Milton-Bradley, who launched the game at New York’s legendary Studio 54.
“Star Wars" Simon will be available next spring, at the same $25 introductory price as the 1978 original.