Thursday, November 19, 2020

Blast From the Past

The Socrates 80s Educational Game Console


A friend of mine shared this video with me, which took me back a ways. In 1988, my family moved up to Oregon from California. The Nintendo Entertainment System was the latest and greatest thing that everyone had to have. I think I remember mentioning that I wanted video games for Christmas, or something. Sure enough, that Christmas I got a video game console. It was not an NES, or even an Atari. It was a Socrates educational console. 

This is where you may be expecting me to tell you how disappointed I was that I got a Go-Bot instead of a Transformer, like a spoiled ungrateful little punk first-worlder. No! I liked Go-Bots. Go-Bots were cool in a lesser than Transformers sort of way, and Socrates was cool in a lesser than Nintendo sort of way. I was excited to have some sort of gaming console that I could hook up to my TV like Nintendo.

Socrates had math games, and word games, and a hang-man, a music feature, and a "Super Painter", which was pretty much a rudimentary version of MS Paint. There were even cartridges we could purchase, which you could plug in for additional games. I had one that had really tough algebra that nobody could figure out. It also had a wireless control, which was pretty much a long bar with a keyboard and two pop-out controllers on the sides.

I pretty much gravitated toward the Super Painter, and also enjoyed the hang man game, which had different levels in which Socrates, an adorable little robot knockoff of Johnny 5, journeys from his home planet to Earth. There was also a two player game which involved competing Socrateses on a game board. I pretty much ignored the math and spelling games, but my friend Adam enjoyed them. He even spent a lot of time trying to solve the algebra game, even though we were fourth graders. He says he thought Socrates was cool because it was  different.

The next year, I got an actual Nintendo for Christmas, and Socrates became a dust collector. 


No comments: