In 1994, Sega shifted the focus of its game marketing to a much younger age group when it released the Pico "edutainment" system. It was designed as both a learning tool and gaming platform for kids. With the Pico, Sega planned to introduce video games to a new generation.
The Pico console resembled a laptop PC. Sega advertised the Pico as "the computer that thinks it's a toy." Inside the console was a stylus called the "Magic Pen" and a drawing pad. The Pico did not come equipped with its own screen and required a television hook-up.
When a child touched the Magic Pen to the drawing pad, pre-rendered characters could be animated or original pictures could be drawn. The Magic Pen aided children in learning how to use a computer mouse. They could also control action on-screen by using the Pico's directional arrow keys like on a real personal computer.
Software for the Pico system was called "Storyware." It was fashioned like a storybook. The Storyware game cartridges fit into its slot in the top lid of the Pico. As Storyware pages were flipped, the television screen changed and displayed new pictures. Voices, sound effects and music also accompanied the turning of each Storyware page.
The Pico system originally retailed for $139 and included one pack-in game. Additional Storyware titles ranged in price from $39.99 to $49.99. Sega recommended the Pico for children between the ages of three and seven.
The Storyware selections were aimed at teaching children different lessons like spelling (Adventures in Letter Land), counting (Math Antics with the 101 Dalmatians), reading (The Magic School Bus) music (The Musical Zoo), matching (Ecco Jr.), and coloring (Magic Crayons).
Naturally Sega introduced its world famous character, Sonic the Hedgehog into a Pico game. He is the star of Sonic's Gameworld which features thirteen games that teach problem solving. Sega licensed other animated characters such as Mickey Mouse in Mickey's Blast into the Past and the Muppets in The Muppets on the Go to increase the Pico's appeal to children.
Most acclaimed games for the Pico system include: Disney's The Lion King: Adventures at Pride Rock, A Year at Pooh Corner, Smart Alex and Smart Alice: Curious Kids and Scholastic's Magic School Bus. ~ Dave Beuscher, All Game Guide