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Remembering Quiz Wiz (Updated with Robot Goodness!)

29 March 2009 Leave a comment
Coleco's Quiz Whiz

Coleco's Quiz Wiz

When Neal Postman lamented in 1985’s Amusing Ourselves to Death that the American public had been inundated with so much useless triva courtesy of television information was no longer useful; it had been a long time since quiz shows were prevelant on the air waves, and the second iteration of Jeopardy! was just starting to become a hit. Of course, in the late 1970’s, I had absolutely no idea about any of this stuff. I was much more interested in toys, and toys that engaged me were where it was at.

One of my favorites was Coleco’s Quiz Wiz, which was given to me sometime in the very late 70’s. The one page on the Internet that had any information about the game identifies it as a product of the early 1980’s, but I was still living with my mother when I received it, so it was definitely the late 70’s.

Quiz Wiz was a cartridge-based handheld system, similar to Milton Bradley’s MicroVision, only without the display and recessed pad controller. Each cartridge came with a theme, such as History or Mathematics, and was accompanied by a booklet that contained 1001 questions of varying difficulty. You’d key in the question number and then provide your answer and it would let you know if you were right or wrong (I actually don’t remember how it did this, probably via beeps and boops).

Additional cartridge/booklets could be purchased seperately for a vaitety of themes. I don’t quite recall what those themes are, as we only had the initial cartridges, but according to the accompanying picture you could learn/quiz yourself on such topics as energy and the ocean.

Do you remember my name?

Do you remember my name? I am the 2-XL. Greetings!

Quiz Wiz was easily over-shadowed by the much more popular and robust robot quiz toy, the name of which I have long forgotten. It also used a cartridge system, and had all sorts of flashing lights and sounds. Despite its total cool factor, we never had one of these, and I’m kinda sad that we didn’t. If you remember anything about this toy, especially if you know its name, please post a comment!

Update: I should have Googled “quiz wiz coleco”! Here’s a page all about the toy: http://www.handheldmuseum.com/Coleco/QuizWiz.htm

Update #2: After hours, and I really do mean hours, of searching, I finally found the name of this toy robot!

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the 2-XL from Mego! According to the Wikipedia article, those are actually 8-track tapes, not cartridges like the Quiz Wiz uses. I wonder if you could play actual 8-track audio cassettes on it [edit: according to the commercial (see below), you could dance groovy groovy in your bell bottoms while it played your music cartridges]. Tiger Electronics came out with a more Buck Rogers-looking version of the robot, using regular audio cassettes (then in vogue with home computers) rather than the long-dead 8-tracks.

Skooldays notes that the 8-tracks came in the following flavors, and also describes how it worked:

“Challenges of General Science,” “Guinness Book Of World Records” and “Wonders Of The World.”

The fun of 2-XL began when the user inserted a tape in the robot’s midsection and pressed a red button on the top of its head. Many tapes also came with special overlay cards that could be placed over the four buttons to make them game-specific. With a press of the “Question” button, 2-XL began its string of multiple choice and true/false kid-stumpers. Once a guess was entered, the 2-XL would make a few computer-style noises and tell the user whether their answer was right or not. It would also chime in some extra information on the topic in question.

So, there we have it. Mystery solved. I’d go to sleep now, only I have to start working in 40 minutes. But it was a hunt well won!

I Don’t Choose You, Pikachu!

24 March 2009 Leave a comment
Don't keep your Pokemon in Pokeballs too long!

Don't keep your Pokémon in Poké Balls too long!

The InnerWebs were abuzz yesterday with news that there was not going to be neither an online nor massively multiplayer version of Pokémon. In an interview with What They Play, series director Junichi Masuda said:

“At this point, we’re not thinking of going in that direction. Trading is a core concept of Pokémon. So when you’re trading, you meet with a friend and decide which one you want and which one they want. I would like to emphasize real-world communication. You don’t see each other online.”

The interview comes on the heals of the newest Pokémon Nintendo DS release Pokémon Platinum. Where Diamond/Pearl, the last set of Pokéemon games to be released, was suppossed to be the “ultimate” Pokémon game, Masuda calls Platinum the “evolved version of Diamond and Pearl […] it is more like a sibling.” Regular Pokémon players, of course, will know that Platinum will play just like all the others, with tweaks here and there further perfecting the famed franchise formula. Which is why I, too, must play Platinum. I never actually catch all of the Pokémon, but I do seem to catch all of the games.

I can actually visualize an online version of Pokémon. Perhaps a Magic the Pokémon Online, where players trade and battle with their virtual-life Pokécard Pokédecks. Collect ’em All Online could be a new revenue stream in the ever-growing tide of Poképroducts. 40-year old overweight American male Pokéfreaks can battle royal with 7-year old Japanese female Pokédaemonesses while a/s/l’ing some sting cop at the local precinct. I think this could really work!

But would a Pokémon Online MMO? Are there enough IP elements to actually sustain that type of game for the long run? Certainly there is the element of collection, a huge component in MMO gaming. Entire skill trees can be designed around the myriad abbilities and moves. Leveling is a key element for many MMOs, and certainly a key element of Pokémon, especially when it comes to Pokévolution. Player-versus-player and Player-versus-environment (either via grass battles or trainers), role-playing, adventure, discovery… yes, I do think a Pokémon MMO would have some potential. Players could mix and match their Poké Ball-held Pokémon, perhaps create their own new creatures through mating at the, uh, perverted nursery that I would probably design into this game.

The more I think about it, the more I can see Pokémon Online as a doable product, and the more I wish they’d reconsider. I am almost 40, you know.

Categories: handheld, MMO Tags: , ,