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Brain Games was one of the eleven Atari 2600 titles that were part of the second wave of games released in 1978. It is one of the first games to utilize the Atari Keypad controller. Brain Games started out as a project to recreate Atari's Touch Me for the home console market, but it contains a variety of similarly styled memory games as well.
Touch Me is an arcade game that Atari released in 1974, and later as a handheld game in 1978. It can be described as a Simon-like game that involves touching a series of buttons that light up and produce sounds. The player must observe a sequence of blinking lights and repeat the sequence back in the same order that it occurred. Each time this is completed, the game will reproduce the sequence with an additional button added. This process is repeated and a digital score window displays the total number of sound sequences a player correctly repeats. The game continues until the maximum sequence of buttons is reached, or the user makes an error.
The arcade game found itself competing for attention in arcades with the latest pinball machines and video games of the day and was not very successful. In 1977, Ralph Baer saw potential in the "Simon says" concept behind the Touch Me game. He improved upon it significantly, adding colored buttons and musical sound effects, and created the Simon hand held game, which became a major success. Seeing this, Atari sought to capitalize on the success of Simon and released their own handheld version of Touch Me in 1978. Unfortunately, like the arcade original, the Touch Me hand held game was not a major success. Many saw the Touch Me hand held as a clone of Simon, when in fact it was the other way around, and Touch Me soon vanished from sight. Simon, meanwhile, continues to be sold nearly 30 years later.
- Color/BW: Switch between color display and black & white display. (This feature made the game look better on black & white TVs that were still prominent at the time of the game's release.)
- Difficulty Switches: The difficulty switches do different things depending on the game being played. See the Game Variation section below.
- Game Select: Select a game variation. The variations cycle from 1 to 19 and start back over at 1. See the Game Variation section below.
- Game Reset: Starts a new game in whatever game variation is currently selected. All players points are reset to 0, and the state of the game is refreshed.
- Keypad: The left control pad controls the first player. The right control pa controls the second player. The keypad is used to enter each players' guess or move, depending on the game. See the Game Variation section below.
Touch Me (Games 1-4)
The computer plays a "sequence of tones" which you must match, starting with one tone and adding a new tone to the sequence each time you enter correctly. As the computer is playing the sequence, the word WAIT will appear at the top of the screen. When the computer says GO, it is your turn to match the tone sequence. If you miss the sequence, the computer will say WAIT, repeat the sequence, and credit you with a "miss". Four "misses" (or correctly following a sequence of 32 tones) completes the game. The number in the box at the top of the screen is the number of tones that have been correctly played.
Games 1 and 2 are single player games, while games 3 and 4 are two player games in which the players alternate. As one player enters the sequence correctly, a new tone will be added for the other player. The computer will say GO underneath the score of the player whose turn it is. The game ends when either player reaches four "misses", or if both players correctly complete a 32-tone sequence.
Games 1 and 3 are 6-tone games, while games 2 and 4 are 9-tone games. In a 6-tone game, the six boxes at the bottom of the screen correspond to the numbers 1 to 6 on your controller. In the 9-tone games, the nine boxes at the bottom of the screen correspond to the numbers 1 to 9 on your controller.
If the difficulty switch is set to the "a" position, the player will not hear the entire tone sequence, but only the new tone that is added. If a miss is made, the computer will then play the entire sequence. In "b" position, the tone sequence is repeated each time, with the new tone added.
Count Me (Games 5-8)
Play this game like Touch Me. The computer will play a sequence of digits to be matched in order. The computer adds a new digit to the sequence when you correctly follow the sequence. When the computer shows you the sequence in the box at the center of the screen, the word WAIT will appear. When the computer says GO, it is your turn to match the sequence. If you miss, the computer will say WAIT, repeat the sequence, and credit you with a "miss". Four "misses", or correctly following a sequence of 32 digits completes the game. The number in the box at the top of the screen shows the number of digits in the sequence that you have correctly followed.
Games 5 and 6 are single player games, while games 7 and 8 are two player games in which the players alternate. As one player correctly identifies the sequence, a new digit is added for the next player. The computer will say GO underneath the score of the player whose turn it is. The game ends when either player scores four "misses" or if both players correctly complete a sequence of 32 digits.
Games 5 and 7 will only utilize the numbers 1 through 6. Games 6 and 8 will utilize all of the numbers on the keypads from 1 through 9.
When the difficulty switch is in the "b" position, the computer will show you the complete sequence of digits to be followed. In the "a" position, the computer will not show the entire sequence, but only the digit that has been added. if a "miss" is made, the computer will then refresh your memory by showing the entire sequence.
Picture Me (Games 9-10)
In these one-player games, the computer will display a set of four objects in the center column. While the computer makes a distracting noise, try to memorize the order of the objects from top to bottom. the computer then scrambles the order, moves them to the left hand column, and gives you twenty seconds to remember their original order. If your guess is incorrect or the time runs out, the computer will show you the correct answer in the left hand column, before showing you the next set of objects.
In game 9, you have four seconds to memorize the original order of the objects, in game 10 you have 1 1/2 seconds. You get one point for each object placed in the correct position and a bonus score based on the time taken to remember all the objects. Five sets of objects are a game.
Each row of numbers on your controller corresponds with one of the boxes on the screen. For example, row one (numbers 1-2-3) corresponds with the top box; row two (numbers 4-5-6) corresponds with the second box, etc. If the first object in the center column was scrambled to the second box in the left column, push a button in row two of your Keyboard (number 4, 5, or 6). That object will appear in the right hand column in the first box. Continue making selections in this way. Each object can be selected only once.
In these games, the left difficulty switch affects the Bonus Scoring. In the "a" position, the Bonus Score added to your correct guesses is one half of the timer value. In the "b" position, the Bonus Score is equal to the timer value. The right difficulty switch has no effect. The best possible score in the "a" position is 45; in the "b" position, the best possible score is 70.
Find Me (Games 11-14)
The computer generates a set of four objects on the screen. All, except one, are identical. Your score is based on the time taken to find the one dissimilar object. You can continue to enter guesses until the timer runs out. The correct answer will show in the box at the top of the screen. There are five sets of objects per game.
Each row of numbers on your controller corresponds with one of the boxes on the screen. For example, row one (numbers 1-2-3) corresponds with the top box; row two (numbers 4-5-6) corresponds with the second box, etc. If the dissimilar object is in the fourth box, press a button in row four (*-0-#) of your controller. The correct solution to the above diagram is 3.
Games 11 and 12 are one-player games, where you use the left-player controller, and try to improve your score with each game. In games 13 and 14, two-player games, each player is competing to find the same dissimilar object and score first.
In Games 11 and 13 you have 20 seconds to find the dissimilar object; in Games 12 and 14 you only have 5 seconds.
The scoring is affected by the difficulty switches. In the "b" position, the player gets the full value of the timer added to this score. In the "a" position, the player gets one-half the timer value added to his score. Best possible score for position "a" is 25, position "b" is 50.
Add Me (Games 15-18)
A set of digits is generated by the computer. You score by adding the digits and entering the sum before the timer runs out. The correct answer will appear in the box at the top of the screen. There are five sets of digits per game. Enter your answer just as you would with a calculator. If the sum of the digits is a single unit (4 to 9), you must enter it as a zero-sum (04, 05, etc.).
With the left-player controller continue to practice on the one-player games 15 and 16. In the two-player games 17 and 18, each player is trying to enter the sum of the same set of digits and score first.
Games 15 and 17 give you twenty seconds to find the sum of four digits. Games 16 and 18 give you five seconds to find the sum of five digits.
The player using the "a" position on the difficulty switches will receive one-half the timer value added to his score. In the "b" position, the full value of the timer is added to the score. Best possible score for "b" position is 50; best possible score for "a" position is 25.
Play Me (Game 19)
In Game 19, your Keyboard Controllers become musical instruments. Each button on the controller will generate a different musical note, allowing you to play songs. If both controllers are used, duets can be played on your ATARI Video Computer System game. The difficulty switches have no effect on this game.