col Otacon: What do you get when you put Sega and McDonalds together? The newest Happy Meal promotion. The fast-food chain now includes one of six hand-held video games with each kids meal.

PureAtarian: Ladies and gentlemen, yet another less-than-brilliant move from Sega.

Otacon: I'm not really sure what to make of this. I mean, hand-held games are cool and all, but there's not a lot of variety. Five of the games feature "Sonic the Hedgehog" characters and the last one has AiAi, from "Super Monkey Ball."

PureAtarian: This is cute and gimmicky, but that's about it. I don't know any kid who's going to go buy a video game just because this, that or the other is at McDonalds.

Vivi: I agree. These games aren't exactly a reason for anybody to take up video games as a hobby. I love video games, but when it comes to LCD games with one-inch-square screens, I'm gonna get bored fast.

PureAtarian: I think this would have gone better if it was Nintendo instead of Sega.


Otacon: Wait a second. That almost sounded like you were complimenting Nintendo.

PureAtarian: Nintendo has a specific audience -- and this is it. People who play Xbox or PlayStation don't buy Happy Meals. People who play Nintendo do.

Vivi: Very true. They're aiming for little, Mario-loving Timmy, not just-let-me-see-some-blood PureAtarian.

Otacon: I think if there were any company that could have benefited from this, it would be Nintendo. Not only is it the right audience, but Nintendo has the most recognizable video-game icons.

Vivi: But how would they translate into LCD games? The graphics on these toys are way too simple!

Otacon: Nintendo is a pro at this! Remember Game &; Watch? How about a simple game where Mario jumps among moving platforms? Or just replace AiAi with Donkey Kong and have him catch bananas.

Vivi: Still, I don't think this translates well into LCD. The "Sonic's Speedway" game I tried only showed the back of Sonic's head. Was this designed by the marketing intern?

Otacon: In a lot of ways, I think this was a missed opportunity. I think Sega played up Sonic too much. They should have used this as a way to showcase their other games.


PureAtarian: Like how? How are you going to crunch anything other than Sonic into those tiny, two-button games?

Otacon: Well, the Sonic racing game almost begs to be given a "Crazy Taxi" theme. They also could have done a simple, obstacle-avoidance game with "Jet Grind Radio." "Virtua Fighter" would be easy, too. Make one button hit and the other block.

Vivi: That's not all. There's always "Ecco the Dolphin."

PureAtarian: Ah, Vivi, again proudly shows why she should never be a gaming consultant. Where's a good fishing net when you need one?

Vivi: Hey -- leggo my Ecco.

PureAtarian: It's not the porpoise that needs the net, Vivi.

Digital Playground is a weekly chat dedicated to video gaming. If you want to take issue with what they say (like, LCD? Are you living in the 80s?), dash off an e-mail to

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