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Othello - The Atari Times


This really is black and white
by Darryl Brundage

February 8, 2006
I'm not going to divulge into my favorite Atari games as a kid (or newer ones now, as an adult)--that's too easy--but here's a few things about several regular old boring, non-flashy, no computer graphics, nor electronic sounds board games from my past:

Monopoly: oh crap, don't land on Park Place or Boardwalk if they ain't yours! Stratego...hah! I could kick pretty much anyone's sorry butt on that brilliant game. As far as the somewhat obscure, the Mad Magazine Game was pretty different, where the object is to actually LOSE all of your money (and certain cards or spaces on the board telling you to trade places with someone else that has a huge wad of cash really sucks, since you inherit their money once you move to their seat!). Mastermind was great, but I don't know if I have the memory for that nowadays...and Milles Borne was a fun card game, something in regards to roads, or travel...or something...hmmm, need to dig that out of the old closet to see what it was exactly, I've forgotten. (Great, there's that memory thing already; oops! I accidentally knocked over a can of gas onto Mastermind and dropped a lit match on it; oh darn! Mmmm, the smell of burning plastic; eeyew...)

We also had Othello; however, it wasn't played much, due to those neat, shiny little game pieces easily being lost underneath the car seats and all, so me and my sister only played it a couple of times, and that was pretty much it. I probably wouldn't even remember ever having that if it wasn't for buying a 7800 from a friend with a bunch of games, and that was one of the 2600 games that came with it. I ended up ditching over 20 of the games that I didn't want, but I'm glad I kept this one, as it kept me on my toes and killed some boredom before I had the money to ship the games out to people and all so I could acquire some new ones myself for trades (since hardly any of them were sold, but traded, rather).

One of the very few puzzle/strategy games out there for the 2600 (even with some new homebrews over the last few years), the game's pretty simple: you start out with two black and two white game pieces all together in the center of the board. If you have one of your pieces at one end, and one or more of your opponent's pieces right next to it, then placing one of your pieces at the other end of your opponent's pieces will change all of the pieces in line to your color. Meanwhile, your opponent (or the computer) can do the exact same thing to you, as his (or it's) job is to turn as many of your pieces to his color as possible.

This is probably THE most humbling game out there: you can be beating the computer or an opponent 39-30, having a bit of an edge, and then he (or it, if it's the computer, or if your opponent happens to be very ugly) could place a game piece at a very strategic location, turning a crapload of your pieces over, changing them all to his/hers/it's color, and as his score of owned pieces adds up, YOUR score starts dwindling right before your eyes! The horror, the horror! (And just like in the old movies where the bad guys wear black, THE COMPUTER IS EVIL!)

There's not much going on with the graphics or the sounds, though: the graphics are just simple black and white squares with a green background and there's literally only about two sounds during the whole game. I think the sounds (and graphics) are adequate for a quiet, surreal experience, but since there's not a lot going on in the sound department, it's probably best to rate that pretty low, honestly. The joystick response isn't the greatest either, as it's kind of sludgy moving the cursor around the board in order to chose the next place where you're going to put down a piece, but then again, reflexes aren't exactly a factor here anyway.

One thing I can NOT figure out, however, is how I can be so good at video games in general, but I, for some reason, totally suck at this one, as the computer consistently whips my butt with no problem whatsoever. Man, once I beat a game on a friend's Commodore 64 before he did, plus I had to write down what it said on the screen upon (also!) beating HIS copy of Stellar Track (since the game was mostly text-based), since he had never won the game before either, and even onward to the 16 bit era of the Genesis there were games that I beat on only the first day of renting them. But this I can NOT figure out what the deal is, even on the easiest "skill" level (or not, as far as my pathetic games go). Oh well, can't win 'em all, I suppose.

Othello comes complete with three skill levels and a two player game, ensuring you that you will never lose any of those nifty game pieces like me and my sister, and probably countless of other children over the decades, did.


(c) Atari

This game fits perfectly with Atari's motto:
Easy to learn, difficult to master.
System: 2600
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Strategy
Graphics Score: 65%
Sound & Music Score: 30%
Gameplay Score: 88%
Control Score: 85%

Final Score: 88%

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