Saturday, 15 June 2013

Peter Pan Pocket Pop-o-matic Football Game, 1979

Back in the days when a 'handheld device' meant nothing more than a few bits of plastic in a cardboard box, there was the chance to play football on the move - wherever you happened to be. That is, of course, if you had either (a) a healthy imagination or (b) very low expectations.

Following not very hotly on the heels of Pocketeers 'World Cup' in 1975, Peter Pan Playthings, that maker of games such as 'Test Match' and 'Frustration', came up with their Pop-o-Matic Football Game. 'Pop-O-Matic', you'll remember, was that cunningly useful system designed to stop little kiddies losing their dice when playing board games. Never more was it needed than in a game that could conceivably have been played in the back of a car or in the school playground.

The idea was a simple one. Two players would attempt to score goals by moving a ball around a pitch that was marked in two-tone green stripes with red and blue squares marking specific locations in a sort of grid. By rolling the dice... sorry - 'popping' the dice - each player would initially hope to see their designated colour appear, be it red or blue. If it did, they could move the ball along the grid-style track to the next appropriately coloured location, but that would depend on the colour shown on the other die. If it was light green, they'd only be able to move the ball to an adjacent red or blue location if it were in a light green stripe on the pitch - the same for dark green. If that wasn't possible, the other player would get a turn and so it continued.

The game worked well enough on an operational level, albeit ponderously so, but it was probably only a matter of time before the human player or players involved developed a headache from the constant popping of those dice and decided to call it a day. Given that the instructions on the back of the box gave no clue as to when to end a match, it was probably assumed that a searing pain in the cranium was the deciding factor where such things were concerned.

All in all then, this was a rather basic and sadly unexciting return to the world of pocket football entertainment, but spare a thought to those poor schmucks that bought one of the other five Pop-o-Matic games in the range. Pocket Swimming, anyone?

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