#461 – Othello

One of my grandma’s favorite NES games. Seriously.
Sponsored by The Universe!
It’s anyone’s game at this point… but probably the computer’s.

PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous



GENRE: Puzzle

RELEASE DATE: December 1988

From the smoke-stained 1960s backgrounds to the antiquated pseudo-checkers gameplay, Othello proudly displays its grandmotherly leanings. But don’t let the old-fashioned get-up scare you off. Othello is a minor achievement, an easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master game that’s fun for five minutes or five hours. The goal is simple: take control of the game board using either black or white pieces. The game always starts with four pieces in the center of the board – two black and two white placed diagonally next to each other. Let’s say you’re black and you need to convert the white pieces into black pieces. In order to do that, you must trap a white piece between two black pieces. The white piece will then flip over and become a black piece. This tango between opposite colors continues until the board is filled with an array of white and black. Whoever has the most pieces on the board wins. Sounds like any mumbly Joe Six-pack could dominate, but believe it or not, there are specific strategies for winning. For example, getting your pieces in the corners of the board. Dominating a corner or two is almost a sure-fire way to win, because once your piece is in the corner, it can no longer be converted into your opponents color. Two-player is the best way to go, but the computer’s no slacker. Even on Level 1, you’ll be hurting for awhile. Othello might feel like it hails from “The Lawrence Welk Show” era, but the gameplay, like checkers, remains timeless.

Grade: B

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2 replies on “#461 – Othello”

Having owned this game as a child I logged a lot of hours on this game. Having said that, I must add to your review that you must have experienced
those happy little words-“computer thinking” at this point in your one player game, you’ll either wait 5 minutes, or forever for the computer to make it’s next move. My sister and I started instantly turning the game off of the computer didn’t make up it’s damn electronic mind within a minute or so because we knew it wasn’t worth waiting for after that. I used to play the game and see of I could test how long the computer could think for, but I always failed. I once set my controller down, told my family not to turn the NES off and went to play outside, go to a park, swim, get ice cream afterwards, roasted marshmallows in the backyard firepit, went to sleep and woke up the next morning to “computer thinking”. I don’t if my latent Othello genius utterly confounded the computer, or if my NES was just frozen, but that damn thing was thinking for almost 24 hours. Either way, I never had the patience to even attempt a one player game of Othello after that.

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