Of Batteries and Epoch Men

One retro thought often leads to another. In my case, one retro thought often leads to ten others. I had to change a AA battery in my wireless mic today. As I did so, I began to wonder if my daughter’s generation will even know what disposable batteries are. It’s possible they won’t. It’s possible they will be so used to recharging everything via USB cable that they will never know the “joy” of trying to find replacement batteries for your handheld electronics, of learning AAA, AA, B, C and D, of trying to figure out which way the batteries were supposed to go in, of losing the lid to the battery well, and all the other quirks that went with batteries. Batteries weren’t toys, but they were so connected with the toys of the 80s that I have a lot of quasi-fond memories about them.
That thought led to a memory of one particular handheld device I had and my time trying to find batteries for it. That device was called Epoch Man.
Epoch Man was clearly a Pac-Man clone (re: rip off). I realized that even at an early age. But it somehow found its way into my grubby hands and I loved playing it. Until the batteries went out. The way batteries ran out in these devices is that the device would flicker in and out of life. It wouldn’t just shut off completely. It would still linger for a while. Because of this, I thought the problem was the device and not the batteries, and I responded as any reasonable grade-schooler would: I hit it. With my hand. Hard. Too hard, in fact. Though this technique did somehow draw a few more seconds of Epoch Man-playing power out of the batteries, it had the unfortunate side-effect of breaking Epoch Man permanently. The broken Epoch Man hung around my toy box for a little while as what I would years later come to call a “brick”, and then it disappeared.

It’s one of my saddest memories. Rip-off or not, I really liked Epoch Man, and I was sad to see him die and disappear. But that’s how it went with handheld electronics in the age of batteries.


Doug is a child of the 80s who was raised in Ohio and is now living the life of oblivion in the bay area of California.

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4 thoughts on “Of Batteries and Epoch Men

  1. I had a very similar experince with a handheld game, also made by epoch. “Space Crusher”, sold by radio shack. I loved that game, but got into a fight over sharing it & wound up smashing it. http://i.imgur.com/jzDDLre.jpg
    While epoch man was a clone of pac man, space crusher was a clone of scramble.

  2. Oh that sad moment when the batteries started dying and you knew the real world was sucking you out of the video game world. I can totally relate to smacking the heck out of my handhelds hoping it would draw a little bit of life out of them.

  3. SetFireToTheNightSky says:

    I wish I had the yellow Epoch Man game that you have here. I barely remember it from when I was a kid. What I do remember though is the exact same little LCD red “clone” of Epoch Man, Space Crusher. Same plastic “chasis” but red. Same button placement and everything. I used to play that game for hoirs on end and thought it was so cool cause it had a built in “alarm clock”! Which of course would eat up batteries. I remember it well cause I still have it in a little wooden jewelry bow that belonged to my mom. Still pretty much mint, not a scratch. Unfortunately, no box or instructions. Cool little game. Miss my 80’s…

  4. Yeah, I didn’t mention the clock/alarm, but figuring out how to work that without instructions was a major achievement for me.

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