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Atari 2600 Video Computer System
Othello for the Atari 2600: Text label (oldest), Atari Picture "Game Program" label, and the Sears Tele-Games packaging. 

Name     : Othello
Released: 1980
Genre     : Puzzle
BWR Rating: (3 of 5)

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, as well as the manual so you can better acquaint yourself with the gameplay. Just search for Othello on Atariage!

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Page Created Apr 20, 2006
Last Modified 4/20/2006