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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Player of Games, #18: Chutes Away!!!!!!

Because seven exclamation points would be overkill!!!!!!!

There was a time, before the rise of charging cords and USBs, that batteries reigned supreme. Duracell, Energizer, Eveready. The big honkin' Ds for boom boxes, slender AAs for your Walkman, Triple-As for the TV remote, 9-volts for the smoke detectors, workmanlike Cs for the rest. (By the way, there's a whole Greek tragedy yet to be written about the poor B battery, which once existed but fell into obscurity as it failed to find a consumer niche.) I mention batteries because they were once both glue and bane for Christmas morning parents, confronted with a battalion of new toys and games all voracious with portable energy needs. "Batteries not included" was its own holiday tune in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was not unusual to find a pack of them in your stocking, which sounds dull but was anything but. It was vital, and more exciting than underwear or soap.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure Chutes Away!!!!!! used C batteries (yes, I counted the exclamation points - six). I feel like most of our stuff did back then. But it was forty-plus years ago, so who remembers? I know the thing was motorized, which was part of its charm. Things that whirred and clicked were better than things that did not. This particular game was released in 1977, followed two years later by Night Rescue Chutes Away!!!!!! which included a searchlight. That might have been the version we had, I don't recall. The simple premise of this exercise was to drop magnet-tipped plastic parachutes from your aircraft into receptacles on the spinning landscape below. You could shift your plane back and forth as you peered through the eyepiece, timing up the arrival of your targets. This took some skill and some patience, which was a lot to ask of kids only recently in long pants, which is why we adored it. I still would, if I had any idea where it ended up. Like with so many vintage games from our early years, it can be had from eBay for a couple hundred bucks. Batteries not included.

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