01 April 2011

Pica Pic: Online Arcade Gallery Of Digitalized Handheld Electronic Games

Pica Pic Logo

Handheld Electronic Games is a term I had not thought of in years and that many of young kids of today have never actually heard, and that even if they had, I am very sure that in their mind they thought of the Nintendo DS or the PSP.  But no, H.E.G consoles, while still a common sight in outside the USA, like for example here in Mexico, usually sporting games of Tetris, Solitaire and even Chess are quite spread because they are sold for the equivalent of 1 to 3 dollars, it is no longer the case in the USA, as least as I know of and by what some people told me when I asked.  But back in their heyday, when the 80’s was the name of the time and portable game consoles were still a dream yet to come true, there were these single-game consoles called Handheld Electronic Games.  In that realm of games the top dog name was not Nintendo, it was Tiger Electronics and then there were the rest.

However it was not Tiger Electronics (Now more of a Electronics Toy Company in general) who introduced the concept, but Mattel and Coleco in the late 70’s, but since it was not the focus of Mattel, they didn’t got to dominate the category. And Coleco? Well, unfortunately while they were also of the very first ones in the Video Game Home Consoles category too.  They ended up as one of those sad stories of forward thinking pioneer companies,  that lost their way and faded away and were then bought by a bigger player (Hasbro) at cadaver price. Tiger Electronics then dominated the category and made some of the most successful H.E.G consoles in history, that in no surprise were tied to properties from some of the most important mainstream movies of the 80’s like Robocop and Terminator to cite the two biggest examples. These games were of the most basic in nature and in one way I remember reading someone calling them “One Bit Games” as a way to say they were just like Pong both in low tech and low play quality.  But they were a “Cheap” (yet expensive for now as they still went for anywhere from 10 to 20 bucks back then!) alternative to the way more expensive console game cartridges and the best way to keep kids entertained anywhere and on the go.  And to say these Handheld Electronic Games were not as important to video games as the ColecoVision or the Atari were for the Home Console Game would be not just stupid, but a serious disrespect for a simple reason:

As Tiger Electronics got to dominate the category, there was only one other company that rose to challenge them with as good H.E.G consoles called Game & Watch that sported a revolutionary design (for the time). These were from Nintendo and served to pave the way for the Nintendo Gameboy and without the success these had, who knows how different the Nintendo Gameboy would had been. And in turn the Portable Game Console category.

Pica Pic site screenshot

Pica Pic is a Online Arcade Gallery for a collection of Digitalized Handheld Electronic Games arcade consoles.  Made in Flash by a polish Web Design Studio called Hipopotam Studio. In Pica Pic you cannot only browse around digital reproductions of some of the very best Handheld Electronic Games arcade consoles from the 80’s days of yore. You can actually play them with your keyboard and in your browser.

Pica Pic got 20 of these awesome playable digital objects. 18 ready to play right now and 2 more yet to be activated. The very fact that you can play these games in a very similar fashion as you would have back when they were released it is cool enough, but what makes the site even better is that there are even Leaderboards for the highest scores for each H.E.G console!

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As I have played with these H.E.G consoles in the site. I realized that from the 20 at display right now, I actually did had played with most of them back in the day and that I also had several of them.  One of the memorable ones besides the Nintendo Game  & Watch, was the one from The Terminator by Tiger Electronics as seen in this post screenshots. Simply because I won it in a Supermarket promotion and also came with some neat stickers.  And I mention it because I think that makes for a good memory to remember and to expose as a point of how cool these things were at their moment if you were a kid or a tween at the time. And if you were, this website will make your day. If not, it will be like going to a museum without going anywhere.

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Pica Pic is a great novelty website and one hell of a memory lane trip if you happen to be old enough.  Totally recommended. Also recommended is a visit to the creator website. The Hipopotam Studio site is very freaky in a way that made me think of Manhunt from rockstar games, in Chris Cunningham’s Rubber Johnny and the MTV from the mid 90’s, you know, back when MTV was still great.  But before you go to Hipopotam’s Studio site, go play with some Digitalized Handheld Electronic Games will ya?

 

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Pica Pic

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