Barney Can’t Lose

Hello again to all my friends! As a follow-up to last week’s post on unbeatable video games (which received no replies, so I’m not sure anybody WANTS a follow-up, but I’m doing one anyway), I wanted to write something about games it was impossible to lose. One that immediately came to mind was part of the Tunnels of Doom package for our old Texas Instruments computer. The main game included was Quest of the King, a turn-based dungeon crawl game that involved fighting monsters and finding treasures. Also included, however, was something called Pennies and Prizes. This was also a dungeon crawl of sorts, except the dungeon had no monsters or traps. The goal was simply to collect all of the treasures.

Another video game you really couldn’t lose was one I’ve never played, but Beth told me about playing a rental copy once. This was Barney’s Hide and Seek for the Sega Genesis, which I believe was the first video game based on the Barney franchise. I’m sure you all remember Barney, the annoying purple dinosaur who had his own PBS show, in which he came to life in the imaginations of kids and joined them in playing games and singing new lyrics to public domain tunes.

“Hey, kids! We don’t have to pay to use ‘Yankee Doodle’ or ‘This Old Man’! Which is good, because Congress keeps threatening to cut our funding!”
Unlike shows like Sesame Street, which people tend to remember fondly even after outgrowing the target demographic, Barney and Friends was pretty roundly criticized and mocked by just about everyone who had finished kindergarten. I think Barney’s dopey voice was a large part of the problem, but certainly not the only one.

Come to think of it, if the kids are just imagining that Barney is alive, why would they all imagine him with the same voice? I get that his appearance is constant because he’s based on a stuffed toy, but I don’t see how that would apply to the voice. And since he seems to most closely resemble a tyrannosaur, why isn’t he eating the kids instead of hugging them? Obviously somebody liked this show, though, because it lasted seventeen years. It was also the first acting job for both Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. I have to wonder if Demi’s eating disorder resulted from how, when she looked in the mirror, she always saw a big fat purple dinosaur.

Anyway, as implied in the title of the game, the object is to get Barney to find several kids (plus Baby Bop) who are hiding.

At least, you can do this if you want to, but apparently it still counts as a win if you go through all the stages without finding a single child. I told you it was easy. There are no enemies, and Barney can’t die. If you try to make him walk off a cliff, he’ll stop until it’s safe to proceed. And if you stop playing the game for a little while, it will play itself. Look, I know a game geared toward preschoolers would be easy, but you’d think even really little kids would want a modicum of challenge. I have to suspect that the programmers just wanted to deny players the pleasure of making Barney repeatedly commit suicide.

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