# "Fun" with Numbers

*Again, will this early videogame couple ever actually TOUCH the console? Or each other?*

Number games have been around almost as long as numbers have been around. All you need to play is your brain, a writing tool and something to write on. Fingers are optional, though removal of them as a form of "showing off" is not recommended.

Looking at a machine that can do things with numbers it isn't a big leap to saying "let's make it play 'number games'". I can forgive anyone trying to think of things to do with the RCA Studio II for coming up with that. What I can't understand is how they (or marketing) make the counter-intuitive leap to the category of "TV Arcade"? **ARCADE**??? Had they even *been* to an arcade in 1977!? Did they not *see* what was happening with videogames? Couldn't they notice that "*arcade*" videogames incorporated, oh, I dunno, some visual representation of ** MOTION**?!?

"Fun with Numbers" contains three, rather static games: Guess the Number - One Player, Guess the Number - Two Player and Reverse.

*Guess the Number* is a "Mastermind" wanna-be. You pretend to need to guess a three digit number in a certain amount of turns using clues provided after each guess. The number of turns you have left appears on the left side of the screen. You start with "020" turns and this decrements after each guess. You input your guess, (a three digit number), which appears on the right-center of the screen. Clues from the "computer" appear on the lower right of the screen, but only for a short time after you enter the last digit of your guess.

The "clues" the computer gives you:

000 -- "None of the digits are correct."

001 -- "one digit is correct but is not in the proper position."

002 -- "one digit is correct and is in the proper position, or two digits are correct, but both are in the wrong position."

003 -- "any feasible combination of the above clues (except 000)."

004 and 005 are the same as 003.

006 -- "YOU GUESSED IT!" (caps theirs)

Apparently you get one point for guessing the right number in the wrong position and two points for guessing a right number in the right position.

So, 003 could be one correct number in the right position and one correct number in the wrong position, OR three digits correct but none of them in the right position. I can't figure out what "005" would mean. Obviously with a 005 you've got at least/most three correct numbers, but which are in the correct positions? If two are in the correct position then certainly the third number has to be in the correct position, shouldn't it? How could two be positioned correctly and the third one not be? I'm sure I could figure it out, as there were instances where I was given 005 as a clue and eventually solved the number. Unfortunately, I lost interest in the game after about 3 and a half minutes so I'm powerless as to even muster enough strength to hit the "clear" button.

The second game is the same as the above game, except it's two players and each player gets to pick the number their opponent has to guess. I guess that's *kind* of cool. Each player takes a turn with a guess and the one to guess their opponent's number first . . . "wins"! I still have to say that I have very little patience with a game that merely "ports" a game from the real world without making it either a little more interesting or a little more convenient.

"*Reverse* is an interesting, stimulating puzzle-game for one person, although others can join in by offering advice to the player." (from the manual)

*Reverse* displays the numbers one through nine across the screen in random order. Your challenge is to put them in ascending order by reversing sets of them. Pressing "2" on the keypad will reverse the leftmost two numbers, "3" will reverse the leftmost three numbers, "4" will reverse the leftmost four numbers, and so on, up to "9". You get 30 turns to do so. I must admit, this *is* a little fun for a geek like me, but only for about 5 minutes.

I *like* the idea of the game *Reverse*. I even think that playing it with an "electronic aid" makes the game a bit more convenient than having to write out each reversal transaction. So, yeah, I'm giving it some points for that, as a simple math game made more convenient with the magic of electronics. As a member of a product line for a system on the cutting edge of a new form of entertainment, it just doesn't cut it. $15 to $20 in 1977 money just wasn't worth it for this. I don't doubt that people thought the same thing in 1977.

Next Entry, we see the one recurring game that every system has to have: *Baseball*!

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