|Inventor||Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison|
|Slogan||Simon's a computer, Simon has a brain, you either do what Simon says or else go down the drain|
Simon is an electronic game of memory skill invented by Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison, with software programming by Lenny Cope, The device creates a series of tones and lights and requires a user to repeat the series. If the user succeeds the series becomes progressively longer and more complex. Once the user fails, the game is over. The original version was manufactured and distributed by Milton Bradley but after they went out of business, the product was taken over by Hasbro. Much of the assembly language was written by Dr. Charles Kapps, who taught computer science at Temple University and also wrote one of the first books on the theory of computer programming. Simon was launched in 1978 at Studio 54 in New York City and was an immediate success, becoming a pop culture symbol of the 1970s and 1980s.
Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison were first introduced to Atari's game Touch Me at the Music Operators of America (MOA) trade show in 1976. Baer said of the product, "Nice gameplay. Terrible execution. Visually boring. Miserable, rasping sounds." The original prototype, built by Baer, included the Texas Instruments TMS 1000 microprocessor chip, which was low cost and used by many games of the 1970s. Lenny Cope, who was one of Ralph H. Baer's partners, worked on the programming code for the core of the game, titled Follow Me at the time. Baer developed the tones of the game, inspired by the notes of a bugle. It was when they pitched the demo, an 8-inch-by-8-inch console, to the Milton Bradley Company that the name of the game was changed to Simon. Simon debuted in 1978 at the cost of $24.95 (equivalent to $91 in 2015) and became one of the top selling toys that Christmas. The corresponding U.S. patent, No. 4,207,087: "Microcomputer controlled game", was obtained in 1980. Milton Bradley soon capitalized on the original with both the smaller sized Pocket Simon and the expanded, eight-button Super Simon.
Many different variants of Simon have been made since Hasbro acquired Milton Bradley in the 1980s, building on the possibilities offered by advances in technology. The original Super Simon was reinvented in the late 1990s as a hexagonal unit with six buttons. 2000 saw Simon Squared (or Simon2), a unit with the four traditional buttons on one side, and a set of eight smaller buttons on the other. In 2004, Hasbro released the Simon Stix. The game features two electronic sticks (modeled after drumsticks), an emphasis on the musical part of the game, and features four levels of play.
In 2005, Hasbro released Simon Trickster (also known as Simon Tricks in Europe and in the UK, and as Simon Genius in Brazil) which features four game modes, in a similar fashion to another Hasbro game, Bop It, and colored lenses as opposed to buttons. Simon Classic is the classic mode and lasts up to 35 signals. Simon Bounce is similar to Simon Classic, but instead the colors of the lenses change. Simon Surprise is one of the most difficult games in the unit. Every lens become the same color and the player has to memorize the location. There is also Simon Rewind where the player has to memorize the sequence backwards. During each game, the game will give the player a compliment on a certain number of signals completed. On reaching five and eleven signals, the computer will randomly choose either "Awesome!", "Nice!" "Sweet!" and "Respect!". On reaching 18 signals, the game will play a victory melody three times. On reaching the ultimate 35 signals, the game will play the victory melody again and will say "Respect!". If the player fails to memorize the pattern or fails to press the right color within the time limit, the game will play a crashing sound and the game will say "Later!".
In 2011, Hasbro introduced Simon Flash. In this version, the game is played with 4 cube-shaped electronic modules which the player must move around depending on the game mode. Both Yahtzee and Scrabble have also received Flash variants.
In 2013, Hasbro re-invented Simon once again with Simon Swipe. The game was demonstrated at New York Toy Fair 2014 and was released in the Summer as planned. The game is a circular unit that looks like a steering wheel. It has been extended from four buttons to eight touchscreen buttons which are flattened out on the unit. The game feature four game modes which are called Levels, Classic, Party and Extreme. Levels is the main game of Simon Swipe. The player has to go through all sixteen levels to beat the game. Classic, Party and Extreme levels focus on one pattern getting longer and longer until the player is out. A smaller version of the game called Simon Micro Series was introduced in the Fall of 2014. This version has only two game modes called Solo and Pass It and features 14 levels and four buttons. There is also a version of Simon created by Basic Fun which is known as the Touch Simon. This version has an LCD screen and plays melodies at specific parts of the game.
In 2016, Hasbro launched the follow up to Simon Swipe with Simon Air. The game was announced at Hasbro's Press Conference before the 2016 New York Toy Fair. This version of Simon uses motion sensors, similar to how Mattel's Loopz line of games are played. The game has three game modes, Solo, Classic and Multiplayer. it is expected to be released in Fall 2016. On a video trailer at the New York Toy Fair, Simon Air is expected to release on August 18, 2016. As of May 2016, Simon Air is due to be released in June 2016 along with a modernized Bop It game. The Simon Air eventually was released at the end of May with further retailers receiving units soon after. A button pressing version of Simon was also released in the US, with an aesthetic recalling that of the 1970s and 1980s models.
The device has four colored buttons, each producing a particular tone when it is pressed or activated by the device. A round in the game consists of the device lighting up one or more buttons in a random order, after which the player must reproduce that order by pressing the buttons. As the game progresses, the number of buttons to be pressed increases.
Simon is named after the simple children's game of Simon Says, but the gameplay 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 an A major triad in second inversion which resembles a Trumpet fanfare:
- E-note (blue, lower right);
- C♯-note (yellow, lower left);
- A-note (red, upper right).
- E-note (green, upper left, an octave lower than blue);
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 a keychain (officially licensed by Fun4All) with simplified gameplay (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.
Later 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 (Simon Bounce), where the buttons have no colors at all (Simon Surprise), or where the player must repeat the sequence backwards (Simon Rewind); and a pocket version of Simon Trickster.
In the 2014 version of Simon called Simon Swipe, the notes are as follows:
- G-note (blue, lower right);
- C-note (yellow, lower left);
- E-note (red, upper right).
- G-note (green, upper left, an octave higher than blue)
The swiping sounds are presented with sliding between notes. The bigger the slide, the bigger the swipe will be. The exact notes and sound effects were also used for a smaller version called Simon Micro Series. The sounds were then re-created for Simon Air.
As a popular game, Simon inspired many imitators and knockoffs. Most notably, Atari released a handheld version of Touch Me 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 eight, 16, 32, and 99 instead of eight, 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 unique features were a LED score display, similar to the one its arcade counterpart had, and its small size, similar to a pocket calculator.
Other clones include:
- A Simon clone called Monkey See, Monkey Do which featured a similar casing as that of Simon, except that the buttons were oval-shaped.
- Tiger Electronics' Copy Cat in 1979, re-released with a transparent case in 1988 and used buzzers.
- Also released as Copy Cat Jr. in 1981
- Copy Cat was re-packaged and released by Sears as Follow Me
- Copy Cat Jr. was similarly released by both Tandy Computers and Radio Shack as Pocket Repeat
- Castle Toy's Einstein in 1979
- Space Echo by an unknown company.
- Makezine has a DIY version that requires soldering.
- another DIY version called Electronic Memory Game based on ARM Cortex microcontrollers
- The "Game A" mode of the second game in the Game & Watch handheld series, Flagman (Silver, 5th Jun 1980). "Game B" is the same, but doesn't play in a sequence, while the player has a limited time to press the corresponding number lit up.
- A Star Wars version featuring R2D2 sounds by Tiger Electronics, 1997.
- Vtech's Wizard
- A side quest in both the SNES and Game Boy Advance versions of Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! involves freeing creatures called "Banana Birds" using this method, pressing the corresponding buttons on each system's controller.
- Soviet Elektronika IE-01 Ivolga is a nearly exactly looking replica of Simon.
- Oddworld games have simon gameplay. The playable character has to get passed through certain puzzles with a sequence of sounds.
The same gameplay also appears on multi-game handhelds such as:
- Tiger Electronics' Brain Warp and Brain Shift games have memory games based on the concept of Simon, but instead of tones, the game unit issues a recorded voice that calls out colors and numbers in Game 4 - Memory Match. Brain Shift has two memory games which are Game 2 - Memory Shift and Game 3 -Who Shift's It? that calls out colors.
- 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.
- A fan made homebrew video game version of Simon was unofficially made available for modded Wiis in 2008.
- A Harry Potter wand released in 2001 called 'Harry Potter Magic Spell Challenge' also made by Hasbro has Simon gameplay and voice commands which are 'Wingardium' (to tilt the wand down) and 'Leviosa' (to tilt the wand up.).
Some versions of the game have tones that play as long as you push the button down. Others have a constant time of the sound. Other versions feature audio themes: animals (cat/dog/pig/cow), xylophone, football, galaxy (space sounds), some of which (animals, football) make the game easier to play. Yet others can have sound on/off setting, making the game harder by relying just on visual cues.
In popular culture
- In the 1987 Stephen King's novel The Tommyknockers, a forgotten SIMON game, left in the back seat of a reporters car, activates itself and, in an ever accelerated color switching frenzy, overheats and melts its casing, scorching the seat beneath. The driver, surprised by this, knocks it to the floor before the whole thing goes up in flames.
- Simon appeared on It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia in the episode "A Very Sunny Christmas", during which Mac finds the game in his closet and Charlie finds the game extremely difficult.
- Simon appeared on an episode of Little Miss Gamer as her portable gaming system. It caused her to meet Tom Green and Blackwolf the Dragon Master.
- Simon appeared in American Dad! episode "The One That Got Away" with the family becoming addicted to the game, playing it for days without moving.
- Simon appeared in the film Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009). Flint, the main character, has to click the correct sequence on a Simon to get into his lab.
- The concept was used as the bonus round in the British game show Ant & Dec's Push the Button.
- Simon appeared in the April 2012 episode (3.7) of Cougar Town, "You Can Still Change Your Mind". Ellie uses the game to taunt "Jelly Bean" (Laurie) about her intellectual shortcomings.
- In a skit on Robot Chicken, Dick Cheney's heart is replaced with a Simon, in a parody of Iron Man.
- There is a Simon game signed by Baer on permanent display at the American Computer Museum in Bozeman, Montana.
- In the 2014 video game South Park: The Stick of Truth, the player plays Simon in order to rescue Randy Marsh from an alien probe.
- The quick time event mechanic in the 2005 video game Indigo Prophecy was modeled after the toy.
- US patent 4207087, Ralph H. Baer & Howard J. Morrison, "Microcomputer controlled game", issued 10 June 1980
- "Simon Turns 30". Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- http://www.hasbro.com/common/instruct/Simon_Stix.pdf Simon Stix Game Instructions
- http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/playtime-in-new-york/13/ New York Toy Fair Simon Swipe
- http://www.hasbro.com/common/documents/3f4e2ca0206011ddbd0b0800200c9a66/775DC78D50569047F5D946E20DC30727.pdf Hasbro 2014 Simon Swipe Instructions
- [Simon gets hover-technology in design reboot "Classic 90's Memory Game Simon Gets Hover-Technology in Design Reboot"] Check
|url=value (help). Mashable UK.
- Liszewski, Andrew. "You Don't Even Have to Touch The New Simon Air To Play". Toyland.
- "This content is currently unavailable". Facebook. Archived from the original on December 29, 2014. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
- "Simon Trickster". Hasbro.com. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 6 September 2008.
- "Two Player Simon Memory Game With External Switches". Make:Projects. Make: Magazine. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
- hwhardsoft.de "Simon says with LPC810" Check
|url=value (help). wwwhwardoft.de. Harmut Wendt. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
- Edwards, Owen (September 1, 2006). "Simonized: In 1978 a new electronic toy ushered in the era of computer games". Smithsonian Magazine. Archived from the original on November 11, 2006. Retrieved September 13, 2006.
- "Simon: 'The Electronic Game that Started it All' Turns 25" (Press release). Hasbro. February 10, 2003. Archived from the original on May 27, 2006. Retrieved September 13, 2006.
- US patent for the game's Electronic game housing
- Basic Fun The current maker of Simon