Sun Mar XXVIII
Went to the Maindonalds and played Poleconomy and their Space Invaders Calculator. Kr returned – boo’s
Poleconomy is/was a New Zealand version of Monopoly. Unfortunately it fell into what I discovered was a classic New Zealand trait of trying just that little bit too hard to be better than anyone else and ending up with a good product with slightly too many features and therefore not as good as it could have been.
If you have never seen a ‘space invader’ calculator then you need to know that the name is slightly misleading. What it was, in fact, was a standard calculator with an added game mode. The calculator would make random numbers scroll across the screen from right to left. The object of the game was to hit the corresponding number on the keypad before the line of numbers hit the left hand edge of the screen. You didn’t have to do this in sequence, a number would ‘vanish’ as soon as you tapped its key no matter where it was in the line, but as you moved through the levels the numbers came faster and the pattern of them required faster movement around the keypad.
None of which sounds very much nowadays, but these things were the Nintendo DS of their day. They were small, portable and very much desired. For a time, I wanted one so badly that it almost hurt. The problem was that they were also horribly expensive. There was no way that I could afford one and no way of persuading my parents to buy me one (one of the problems of having an academic and technically accomplished father was that he could blow most arguments out of the water before you had really begun them. Especially this one, where he pointed out that the calculator was needed for school and the one that I had was more advanced in that respect than the game ones). I never did get to own one.