Most of the time when a classic game is reinvented it’s a disaster. That’s not the case with Simon Flash.
You wouldn’t think it would be hard to find a classic Simon game these days but it is. I looked all around the city trying to find one but there was nothing. The best I could find was a keychain version, but it’s just not the same thing. The classic Simon is a big toy that you can really beat on…and that’s half the fun. As Simon got faster and faster you would have no choice but to smack the colored buttons as fast and hard as you can. Playing Simon with your thumbs just isn’t the same thing.
Simon is a “simple” game of memory. All you need to do is repeat colored patterns that Simon spits out. The patterns get longer and faster as you keep playing, so you have to stay on your toes. One glance away from Simon and you’re sunk, even if you try to follow the sounds rather than the colors.
I always wanted a Simon when I was a kid but I never had one. To get one now, you have to go to eBay where you’ll pay upwards of $40 which I am not about to pony up. Simon is fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not that fun. So with the holy grail out of reach, that left me with little more than the keychain and a bunch of phone apps. I thought playing Simon with my thumbs was bad enough, but trying to play on a touch screen pressing and pecking is even worse. I had all but given up on my quest for a simple Simon but then I found a worthy heir to the throne.
For the most part, I tend to poop on classic game remakes. I understand that some games need a little kick in the pants to appeal and compete in a world of instant Apps and downloads, but eliminating a version of a game from the shelves seems a little narrow minded. However, the new Simon game – Simon Flash - really surprised me and provides a lot bang for the buck.
To be fair, I was able to pick up Simon Flash on sale for $15 where it’s regularly $25 in stores, but after playing it myself and seeing how others enjoy Simon Flash I can say its worth the price. Simon Flash not only gives you the best Simon experience you can have outside of the classic Simon, but it gives you three new games to play with four warming, glowing colored cubes.
All three of these new games require you to arrange the colored cubes in an attempt to reach the goal, which could be turning off all the lights, making all the cubes light the same color, or trying to put the cubes back together in the right order. The fancy part of Simon Flash is the cubes can communicate between each other so they know what order they’re in and thus know when you’re wrong and when you’re right. It’s actually pretty neat and while it’s probably simple technology at work, it seems like magic when you’re playing. However, the cubes do need to be right next to each other and they need to be lined up pretty straight or they won’t work. If there’s one downside to Simon Flash, it’s that you need a hard, flat surface to place with confidence. I tried playing on the carpet and the cubes had trouble talking.
Hanging on every beep
Beyond the mini-games themselves, Simon Flash is great example of how to communicate with the player without the use of icons or words. After you turn on all the cubes and line them up, they know they should be in Menu Mode and each one takes on a color (red, blue, green or yellow). Pressing a color then starts a specific game mode. Once a game mode ends Simon Flash then tells you your score by flashing and beeping however many times you scored correctly. If you ever wanted to know what it is like talking to R2-D2 then Simon Flash has to be pretty close. I found myself greatly anticipating the number of beeps Simon would give back to me at the end of my game. It’s even better when you’re playing with friends because then you’re all gathered around counting out each beep waiting to see who did better. It had to look pretty silly watching a group of grown men watching a little colored cube flash and beep 10 times and then reacting accordingly with moans, groans, and cheers.
I bought Simon Flash so I could relive some of the old Simon fun, but seeing others react to and play with Simon Flash was great to see. One night I had a party and left Simon Flash on the desk, cubes calmly glowing, waiting for someone to play. One friend sat down after being lured in by the bright lights and I explained to him how to set things up to play a game. He then proceeded to spend a half hour shuffling the cubes around trying to get a high score. After not being able to beat his all-time high score of five, he gave up and moved on. But then later that night another friend that arrived late saw the cubes and reacted almost exactly the same way as the first guy…and they were separated by a couple hours, and the second friend was unaware of the game entirely until he saw Simon glowing, just begging to be touched. If anything, Simon Flash proved that it can draw a crowd and keep people engaged, which is more than I can say for many games and toys these days.
Outside of the three new mini-games, Simon Flash does offer a classic Simon game mode that plays exactly like you remember, but instead of holding your big, round Simon you’re holding four squares that sit ready for smacking. Each cube is a good size for smashing. No thumbs required. The Simon Flash package also comes with snap-on case that can be used to keep all your cubes together for storage or for playing in classic mode.
To say I was surprised at how much fun a reinvented Simon is would be an understatement. All too often we’re disappointed when games get redone for a new generation, but Simon Flash has all the fun of the classic Simon with a few extras thrown in that are each fun in their own right. Simon Flash wonderfully combines hands-on fun with technology to create a great gaming experience that challenges your memory skills as well as your physical skills…not to mention the batteries are included! So the next time you think about going on eBay to buy that classic Simon from 1977 for $50, save your cash and take it to the toy store to buy Simon Flash. Yeah, you might not get the street cred you’d get with a real Simon on your shelf, but you’ll get a much better value.