Reviewed by Martin Henely, Posted on 2009-07-04


Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
Release Date: 1980 Available On: Atari 2600

Board games, such as checkers, were among the first things Atari mined for inspiration when deciding what to make for games for their system. Othello, evidently, was some sort of electronic board game in the late 1970s, but, whatever its origin, I had never heard of it until I found a cartridge of the Atari 2600 version of it. Is Othello a game worth owning for the system? Read on to find out.

Othello is a sort of board game. It is played on an eight by eight grid. Player one controls white blocks while player two or the computer controls black ones. The objective of the game is to have more blocks on the screen when the game ends than your opponent does. You do this by capturing blocks placed on the screen by your opponent. When the game begins, there will be two blocks of each color in the middle of the game board, and every move must capture opponent blocks.

“How do you capture blocks?” you ask. You do so by placing a block in such a way that blocks belonging to your opponent are trapped between the block you just placed and another block that is your color. When you do this, all such trapped blocks will become your color. You can trap blocks horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, or, if you are really skilled, in more than one direction simultaneously. This simple concept underlies a surprisingly complicated game to learn and excel at.

Since this game was released in 1980, obviously one should not expect this game to be among the most aesthetically impressive games on the Atari 2600, and indeed, it is not. However, the graphics do what they need to do for a game like this, and the sound effects, what few there are, are around basically to help you tell how many squares you trapped with a move or tell when you are trying to make an illegal move. Those who take this game really seriously will want to probably listen to a CD or something while they play to drown out the silence that will otherwise ensue.

There are four game modes in this game. Game modes one through three are increasingly difficult computer players. Game mode four is for playing with two people. Even the lowest skill level will not be a pushover if you are new to the game and underestimate it, as I discovered the first time I played this game. Thus, the computer players are enough to give you a challenge every time you play. If you are a fan of games that make you think a lot, Othello would be an excellent choice for you. If you want a more engaging experience along the lines of Space Invaders, you will not find it here, however. Either way, the game is common and cheap, so it would not hurt to give it a try.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 6.5
Gameplay: 7.5
Creativity: 7.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.4
Written by Martin Write a User Review

Reviewed by Martin Henely