Othello was a game in the
original Atari VCS lineup that I knew existed, but chose not to
pursue. I probably never would have bought it if I had to get it off
eBay, or something like that. It just didn't look like a game I would
enjoy. I figured it would be the bland Atari cart that I often run
across, a novelty that you insert in the console once just to see what
it looks like (or if it even works), and then put on the shelf with
the rest of the carts, like you'd put a baseball card back in a
shoebox. I was wrong.
I acquired a Picture Label
version of Othello from a friend at work who had a whole bag of Atari
goodies and nothing to do with them. Thanks Andy!
I decided to sit down and
give this game a try. Being one of the earlier Atari releases, it has
no title screen. The screen above is pretty much what you get when you
power the 2600 up. I jacked around with it for a little bit, and
figured out some of the gameplay. You start with a screen that has
four squares already in place: two black and two white.
The object of the game is
to cover as many squares with your color as possible (in all cases,
your color being white.) The two numbers at the top of the screen
indicate how many squares each color occupies.
You can only place a
square next to an opponent's square, and you must already occupy a
square left, right, up, down, or diagonally from the square you wish
to occupy. Each time you place a square, each square that belongs to
the opponent (Black squares) that are between your other white squares
and the one you've just placed, all turn to your color.
The best positions to have
on the board are the corners, because they can't be turned to the
opponent's color by the opponent. If you can secure any corner
positions, your chances of winning are greatly improved.
The sounds are very basic,
even for an Atari game. When you place a square, you hear a simple
"click" (well, it sounds click-like) sound. When you try to
place a square where you can't, it plays a really annoying buzz sound
that could scare grandma out of her grave. So, this is one of those
games I play at a very low volume for the most part, or with no volume
at all. The buzz is so annoying that it dropped my personal score for
the game down to a 3 out of 5.
The other point I took off
out of the five was for game play. The game is HARD. It is almost
always 50/50 for me as to how often I win a game against the Atari in
1-player mode. It could have been made a bit simpler, but then where
would the challenge be?
Overall, this is an
above-average game, as far as quality. You probably won't shut the
game off in 10 minutes like you would for many, MANY 2600 carts. Not a
bad one for the collection, by any means.
The cartridge is easily
found, and is fairly common. The rom can be found for your emulator at
Atariage.com, as well as the
manual so you can better acquaint yourself with the gameplay. Just
search for Othello on Atariage!
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