No pressure, kids, but we're going to give you this game called Perfection. I'm not trying to drop any hints or anything, but don't mess up. If you do, everything will literally blow up in your face. It's a lesson that will serve you well for life.
This was a harsh reality type of game. It wasn't here to stroke your ego or tell you how special you were. It was here to show you what a colossal dimwit you were. What's that? You don't have the fine motor skills and nimble fingers to place all of the shapes in their corresponding slots in your slated 60 second limit? Well then, too bad. This thing's going off, and your minute's worth of hard work is going with it.
The game Perfection was originally launched in the 70s by Milton Bradley, but was repackaged and marketed anew to children in the 90s. They gussied it up with a catchy jingle and we were all more or less powerless under its time-bomb ticking charms. The jingle went a little something like this:
Put the pieces into the slot
make the right selection
but be QUICK! You're racing the clock
POW! Pop goes Perfection!
This piece here and that piece there
Put those pieces EVERYWHERE!
But be quick, or beware
POW! Pop goes Perfection!
It was a nice touch of them to include those Batman noises, it really adds to the effect. The enthusiasm of this commercial was nearly infectious, if the plethora of exclamation points above are any indicator. The only problem was, once you heard the song, it was stuck with you for life. I'm warning you now out of the kindness of my jingle-conscious heart: if you watch the commercial below, be prepared to hum it all day long. Your cubicle mates better not come after me.
I'll be the first to admit I was a little bit scared the first few times I saw this commercial as a child. Why exactly were the game pieces exploding outwards from that gentleman's chestal cavity? It's all just a little unnerving. I'll tell you one thing, though--it was a great cautionary tale against swallowing the tiny, undoubtedly delicious plastic pieces. Forget choking hazards, I was just afraid that every time that timer went off, the pieces would burst forth from my chest in a starburst formation.
There's nothing quite like seeing a child verging on a level of stress akin to a neurosurgeon before a big experimental procedure. I'm almost certain my heart still beats to the rhythm of that incessant building tick-tock of the Perfection timer. If this game taught us nothing else, it was that sometimes we work better under pressure. Other times, we're just that more terrified when the board inevitably explodes and interrupts our intense concentration. While the game was fun, no doubt, it had a sort of dark side that to this day makes me shy away from kitchen timers. I just don't trust them. It seems as if the second they go off, the inevitable next step is for my entire batch of cupcakes to leap forth from their metal pan prisons. I know I did not use that much PAM.
On the plus side, the game certainly dishes out a fair helping of excitement and healthy competition. At least that's what they call it, healthy competition. "Healthy" is really just a qualifier to justify our actions when we go all WWF on our little siblings when they beat our record. Everyone who's ever been around children for more than a few minutes knows that timing little kids is what makes them tick. You know, like a clock. If you tell a kid, "Clean up your dishes," they'll stare blankly back at you, wondering what exactly is in it for them. If you say to them, "You have ten seconds to clean up your plate," be prepared to see some lightning speed dish-washing.
Unsurprisingly there's something inherently enticing to children about winning, and adding the element of a timer gives kids something to strive for. A little competitive spirit never hurt anyone. Unless, of course, he was in too close a range to the Perfection board during that fateful pop! Then he's pretty much a goner.
The 90s version of the game came with 25 little yellow plastic pieces, each featuring their own miniature "handle" with which to maneuver the shape into its intended slot. If our hand-eye coordination wasn't yet especially well-developed, we would definitely be struggling with this one. As a depth-perceptionally challenged individual who frequently swings her tennis racket at absolutely nothing, this was more than a challenge. It was a serious obstacle, and my time suffered. While some of my classmates were reveling in their under-60 second record performances, I was still trying to shove the little star about an eighth of an inch too far to the left of its slot. It was, in a word, humiliating.
The board was an attraction in itself, featuring a springboard-type foundation that allowed you to depress the board in preparation for gameplay. When the timer went off, the board reasserted it initial upright position through the use of heavy force. I say "heavy" mainly because I was once struck squarely in the forehead with the little S-shaped miscreant. I'm just lucky the mark finally faded.
Perfection was simplicity at its finest. Sure, the game had a few bells and whistles on the updated version, but compared to many of its up-and-coming game rivals in the marketplace it was an incredibly straightforward concept. Discount all of the stress-induced headaches, residual internal ticking, and fear of TV commercial-style perfection pieces exploding from your chest and it was, in a word, perfection.