The Atari 2600 produced many classic titles: Joust, Yars Revenge, Adventure, Super Breakout, and more. They were brilliant games that have become part of the pop culture lexicon. They played an integral part in countless childhoods. While I’m sure you could find detractors (no matter how good the game, there are always detractors) they are, by-and-large, venerated.
Look, nothing against those games. I love them. Of course I do, but everyone writes about those games. I’ve written about them before, but I’m also intrigued by the titles that get ignored or forgotten, the titles that make you scratch your head and say, “What the heck? Who thought this was a good idea?” Titles like…Sneak’n Peek.
Released in 1982, Sneak’n Peek was hide-and-seek in video game form. It could be played in a one player mode or against a friend. The game was set in an old house with three rooms and a front yard. Each location had five different places you could hide. The game had a slightly bizarre soundtrack, including songs like Camp Town Races and Home! Sweet Home!
Two player mode is where the game’s true brilliance became apparent. You might be wondering, “How does the second player hide without player one knowing where they are?” The answer is simple. The first player had to close their eyes. That’s right. You had to rely on the honesty of the friend you were playing against. This is the type of innovative problem solving you don’t see in video games anymore. Once you found the second player, the roles were reversed.
The game was developed by James Wickstead Design Associates (who also created games like Mouse Trap, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle, and Commando Raid), and published by U.S. Games, which was owned by…the Quaker Oats Company, who for some reason engaged in a brief foray into video game development. Actually, the reasoning isn’t that odd. Quaker Oats had purchased Fisher Price in 1969 and was attempting to compete with General Mills, who owned Parker Brothers. Still, on the surface the idea that Quaker Oats was producing video games is odd. The fact that they produced video game hide-and-seek is even stranger.