Hand Held Game: Split Second (Parker Brothers)

Nothing better shows just how profoundly spoiled kids are nowadays than the current state of handheld games. The Nintendo DS and the PSP are full-blown game systems, essentially the equivalent of a Playstation 2 in the palms of your hands. But the handheld games of my day were far less sophisticated. There was no such thing as graphics back then... your visual interaction with the game was nothing more than the technological equivalent of a clock display. And one of the first (if not the first) such handheld was Split Second, circa 1980.

Please excuse the dust... this thing is OLD.
On the back, the battery cap listed the games.

Split Second was all about speed. It was similar to Simon in that regard, but with more variety of gameplay. There were 8 games, all testing your hand-eye coordination and reaction time:

Mad Maze (Visible, Preview, Invisible): In this game, you guide your "hero" (who is nothing more than a glowing red dot) through a series of simplistic mazes into his cubicle-like home. In Visible mode, you actually see the maze (see screen shot above), Preview gives you a brief flash of the maze, and Invisible hides the maze (with your dot and home always visible). The challenge is less in solving the maze, but in how quickly you do it.

Ready... Aim... Fire... KABOOM!

Space Attack (Beginner, Pro): Enemy dots are attacking! Line up the "site" (glowing dot in the center of the screen) with the enemy "space fighters" (dots with lines), and fire! I always liked this game because the attacking spacecraft look a lot like TIE Fighters, and of course, everything at that time had to revolve around Star Wars in some way. The sound effects and the "graphics" as the fighters blow up were also really cool.

Autocross: The point of this game was to move your "car" (glowing line) among "obstacles" (dots). I admit that I never realized this was supposed to be a car moving through some obstacle course, but I guess the analogy works.

Stomp: Much like Simon, the goal of Stomp was to press the buttons so that you move your dot in the directions indicated (in the screen shot above, you'd be pressing left and up). You had to be quick, though... you have only a "split second" (har har) to move your guy before the screen goes blank and you flash to the next one. I remember this was the most frustrating and challenging of the games.

Speedball: In Speedball, you position a line so that it wraps around a moving dot. I think I imagined this as you controlling a "snake" that constricts around its moving "prey". This was one of my favorite games because it was among the few in which you had an opponent with "artificial intelligence"... if you can call it that.

Although Split Second would be laughed at by today's kids, I still find many of the games fun and the sound effects are a hoot. Not to mention the fact that this thing looks like a Klingon tricorder. Shockingly enough, even though this thing is 29 years old, it still works. I wouldn't say it works well, but it works. Considering I had to chuck a phone that was only 4 years old recently, I can safely say they don't make electronics like they used to.

Related Links:
Split Second Manual
Split Second Boxed

DISCLAIMER: All items reviewed on Dork Dimension were purchased by the reviewer unless otherwise noted. The opinions expressed on Dork Dimension are solely those of the author and are presented for entertainment purposes only.