How to Play the Merlin Classic Handheld Game by Parker Brothers

By FeisulK

Updated September 22, 2017

Though not the first portable electronic game device, "Merlin: the Electronic Wizard" was the first to become widely known and used. Though primitive by today's standards, Merlin was sophisticated when it was revealed in 1978. The eleven buttons that light up allow a user to play six games: Tic-Tac-Toe, Music Machine, Echo, Blackjack-13, Magic Square, and Mindbender. With it's odd appearance, it's not intuitive to use. However, it's not complicated: almost anyone can figure out how to play the device's games with a few minutes of practice.

Place six AA batteries in the device. The manual recommends alkaline batteries in order to extend their use. Alternatively, an AC adapter can be used to plug Merlin into the wall. However, the device does not come with an AC adapter. Merlin can be powered with a 10.5 Volt DC adapter that operates at 5 milliamps.

Turn on Merlin. If the batteries are running low, the device will provide some warning signs. If the device begins to beep or becomes unresponsive, then it's time to replace the batteries.

Look over the buttons. The device has 15 total buttons: 11 in the middle and four below. The 11 middle buttons are arranged in a 3 x 3 telephone grid with an additional button directly above the grid and another directly below. The button above the grid is the "0" button. The button below the grid is the "10" button. The other buttons are numbered 1 through 9 and arranged exactly as found on a telephone. The numbering is not marked on older versions of the device. The "New Game" button is used when choosing a game. After finishing a game, the "Same Game" button can be used to play that same game again. The "Hit Me" button is used to play blackjack-13. The "Computer Turn" button is used whenever it is time for the device to take an action in a game.

Play Tic-Tac-Toe. Press "New Game," then button "1." The "10" button will blink if the game has been successfully chosen. Tic-Tac-Toe can only be played against the device. The human player goes first by choosing one of the nine buttons in the 3 x 3 grid. The human player's choices are indicated by a flashing light; the device's choices are indicated by a non-flashing light. The game ends when there are three flashing buttons in a row, three non-flashing buttons in a row, or the nine buttons of have all been used.

Play Music Machine. Press "New Game," then button "2." The Music Machine game allows a human player to input a series of sounds that the device will play back. Buttons 1 through 10 are musical notes and button "0" is a rest. The device can store a series of 48 notes and rests. Buttons 2 through 9 correspond to the musical scale. Button "1" is a note an octave below the scale; button "10" is a note an octave above it. After inputting a song, press "Computer Turn" to hear it played.

Play Echo. Press "New Game," then the "3" button. The "0" button and the "10" button will blink. Press one of the 1 through 9 buttons to select the difficulty, followed by the "Computer Turn" button. The device will then play a series of notes. When Merlin plays a note, the button of that corresponding sound will flash. After the device has completed the sequence of notes (which is longer on higher difficulty levels,) repeat the notes with the appropriate buttons.

Play Blackjack-13. Press "New Game," then the "4" button. The value of your hand is indicated by the blinking light; the value of Merlin's hand is indicated by a non-blinking light. To get more cards (each valued from 1 to 10,) press the "Hit Me" button. When finished getting cards, press the "Computer Turn" button. Merlin will then try getting as close to 13 points without going over; the device wins if closer than the human player.

Play Magic Square. To select this game, press "New Game," then the "5" button. The "magic square"–buttons 1 through 9 except 5–will briefly flash. Merlin will then display a random grouping of flashing buttons in the magic square. In order to win, all the buttons of the magic square must be flashing. Each of the buttons in the grid will activate or deactivate other buttons. The buttons must be pressed in a certain order in order to create the magic square.

Play Mindbender. Press "New Game," then the "6" button. The "0" and "10" buttons will begin to flash. Press one of the numbers in the 3 x 3 grid to select the length of the number in the game. Merlin will then select a number with digits equal to the number chosen. Guess the secret number by inputting the proper number of digits. If none of the guessed numbers are correct, the "10" button will flash. For each correct digit that is in the proper order, Merlin will display a flashing light. For each correct digit that is not in the proper order, Merlin will display a non-flashing light. You have up to 10 guesses. When you correctly guess the number, all the lights for the number of digits you chose will flash.