|Also known as||Kids Computer Pico|
|Type||Video game console|
|Generation||Fourth generation era|
|Successor||Advanced Pico Beena|
The Sega Pico, also known as Kids Computer Pico,[a] is an educational video game console by Sega Toys. Marketed as "edutainment", the main focus of the Pico was educational video games for children between 3 and 7 years old. The Pico was released in June 1993 in Japan and November 1994 in North America and Europe, later reaching China. It was succeeded by the Advanced Pico Beena, which was released in Japan in 2005. Though the Pico was sold continuously in Japan through the release of the Beena, in North America and Europe the Pico was less successful and was discontinued in early 1998, later being re-released by Majesco Entertainment. Releases for the Pico were focused on education for children and included titles supported by licensed franchised animated characters, including Sega's own Sonic the Hedgehog series. Overall, Sega claims sales of 3.4 million Pico consoles and 11.2 million game cartridges, and over 350,000 Beena consoles and 800,000 cartridges.
Design and software
Powered by the same hardware used in the Sega Genesis, the physical shape of the Pico was designed to appear similar to a laptop. Included in the Pico are a stylus called the "Magic Pen" and a pad to draw on. Controlling the games for the system is accomplished either by using the Magic Pen like a mouse or by pressing the directional buttons on the console. The Pico does not include its own screen or RF output, and instead must be connected to a monitor through Composite video or a VCR in order to be played on a RF screen. Touching the pen to the pad would either allow drawing or animate a character on the screen.
Cartridges for the system were referred to as "Storyware", and take the form of picture books with a cartridge slot on the bottom. The Pico changes the television display and the set of tasks for the player to accomplish each time a page is turned. Sound, including voices and music, also accompanied every page. Games for the Pico focused on education, including on subjects such as music, counting, spelling, reading, matching, and coloring. Titles included licensed animated characters from various franchises, such as Disney's The Lion King: Adventures at Pride Rock and A Year at Pooh Corner. Sega also released titles including their mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, including Sonic Gameworld and Tails and the Music Maker.
According to former Sega console hardware research and development head Hideki Sato, development of the Sega Pico was possible due to the company's past work on the MyCard cartridges developed for the SG-1000, as well as on drawing tablets. The sensor technology used in the pad came from that developed for 1987 arcade game World Derby, while its CPU and graphics chip came from the Genesis.
At a price of JP¥13,440, the Pico was released in Japan in June 1993. In North America, Sega unveiled the Pico at the 1994 American International Toy Fair, showcasing its drawing and display abilities before releasing it in November. The console was advertised at a price of approximately US$160 but was eventually released at a price of US$139. "Storyware" cartridges sold for US$39.99 to US$49.99. The Pico's slogan was: "The computer that thinks it's a toy." The Sega Pico won a few awards including the "National Parenting Seal of Approval", a "Platinum Seal Award" and a gold medal for "National Association of Parenting Publications Awards".
After a lack of success, Sega discontinued the Pico in North America in early 1998. Later, a remake of the Pico made by Majesco Entertainment was released in North America in August 1999 at a price of US$49.99, with Storyware selling at $19.99. The Pico would later be released in China in 2002, priced at CN¥690.
In 2000, Sega claimed that the Pico had sold 2.5 million units. As of April 2005, Sega claims that 3.4 million Pico consoles and 11.2 million software cartridges had been sold worldwide. The Pico was recognized in 1995 by being listed on Dr. Toy's 100 Best Products, as well as being listed in Child as one of the best computer games available. According to Joseph Szadkowski of The Washington Times, "Pico has enough power to be a serious learning aid that teaches counting, spelling, matching, problem solving, memory, logic, hand/eye coordination and important, basic computer skills." Former Sega of America vice president of product development Joe Miller claims that he named his dog after the system because of his passion for the console. By contrast, Steven L. Kent claims that Sega of Japan CEO Hayao Nakayama watched the Pico "utterly fail" in North America. According to Warren Buckleitner of Children's Software Revenue, the Pico failed in North America due to a lack of credibility in the product.
Advanced Pico Beena
|Type||Video game console|
|Generation||Sixth generation era|
|CPU||ARM7TDMI clocked at 81MHz|
The Advanced Pico Beena, also known simply as Beena or BeenaLite, is an educational console system targeted at young children sold by Sega Toys, released in 2005 in Japan. It is the successor to the Pico and marketed around the "learn while playing" concept. According to Sega Toys, the focus of the Advanced Pico Beena is on learning in a new social environment and is listed as their upper-end product. Topics listed as being educational focuses for the Beena include intellectual, moral, physical, dietary and safety education. The name of the console was chosen to sound like the first syllables of "Be Natural".
Compared to the Pico, the Beena adds several functions. Beena can be played without a television, and supports multiplayer by a separately sold additional Magic Pen. The console also supports data saving. Play time can be limited by settings in the system. Some games for the Beena also offer adaptive difficulty, which becomes more difficult to play based on the skill level of the player. The Beena Lite, a more affordable version of the console, was released on July 17, 2008. At the time of its release, Sega estimated that 350,000 Beena consoles had been sold, and 800,000 game cartridges.
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