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3D Tic-Tac-Toe Review

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Developer: Atari Publisher: Atari
Release Date: N/A Also On: None

In the beginning days of the Atari 2600, its games were simple. Games like Hangman, the original Football, and others like that were the primary reason why the system never quite came into its own until Space Invaders. Yet, some of those early games had some entertainment value to them in their own right despite their inherent simplicity. Take 3D Tic-Tac-Toe for example. To most people, it would seem a waste of a program since Tic-Tac-Toe can easily be played with just a piece of paper and a pencil, but is the situation really so cut and dried? Read on to find out.

If you have not played Tic-Tac-Toe, the basic concept is very simple. Using a 3 by 3 grid, you try to get three in a row of your symbol, either X or O, before your opponent. Atari has expanded that concept into a real game of strategy with 3D Tic-Tac-Toe. Rather than one 3 by 3 grid, you have a 4 by 4 by 4 grid demonstrated by four 4 by 4 grids spread out across the center of the screen in a vertical column. Your objective is to get four in a row in any direction, including straight or diagonal columns. This addition makes the game far more complex than normal Tic-Tac-Toe, although sometimes it can be harder to keep track of things between the different levels.

Graphically, this game is fairly simple. You have your four game grids, and you have Xs and Os. It’s nothing too profound, but it gets the job done, and in this era, that is all that most games accomplished on that front. Sound effects are quite few also, but once again, that is fairly normal for the releases from the first couple years of the existence of the 2600. This is a game that you may as well put in a CD or something to listen to if you are going to play it for very long.

When the computer is thinking and making its move, the screen goes blank. This is not a big deal on the lower skill levels, but by the time you get to skill level 8, it can take almost twenty minutes for the computer to choose its move, so staring at a blank screen can get old fast. Maybe bring a book or something to read if you intend to wait the computer out, although you can use a switch on the system to force the computer to move prematurely. I do not know if that affects the skill with which the computer moves or not. At the very least, it is nice that Atari wanted to provide a real challenge at those higher skill levels.

The game is divided into nine game modes which can be changed using the game select switch. Game modes one through eight are one-player modes in which you play against the computer. The computer becomes more difficult to beat as the game level increases, although, as I mentioned earlier, the time it takes the computer to move also increases as the game level goes up. Game mode nine is a two-player mode which you can play against a human opponent. Having eight skill levels of computer to play against, ranging in difficulty from pretty easy to near-impossible, makes the game have the potential to last a long time since, as your own skill increases, you have increasingly skilled computer AI to play against so you are always challenged.

Even the difficulty switches come into play in a significant way. One of the difficulty switches simply affects whether player one or player two goes first. The other one, however, allows you to set up the game before you begin playing it, placing Xs and Os wherever you would like to make whatever situation you would like to make to see if you can get out of it or to give yourself an unfair advantage. This is good for practicing getting out of some of the more troublesome situations you may occasionally find yourself in.

Thus, it is obvious that, for a Tic-Tac-Toe game, this game has just about as much depth as it possibly could for the system and time that it was released. Indeed, the person who programmed this game obviously put time into it to try to make it the most engaging and entertaining experience he possibly could. This game may lack the excitement of later Atari 2600 releases such as Space Invaders, Ms. Pac-man, or Pole Position, but it is an excellent game for its time and is well worth finding a copy of. It is common enough that it should not run you too much money either.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 8
Written by Martin Review Guide