Video Checkers

Atari Video Checkers

Happy Birthday to me!!! I am so excited, it is 1981 and I have been sitting all through dinner and cake looking at the wrapped cartridge on the table. I can only imagine what awesomeness lurks under the that oddly compelling pink wrapping paper.

Wait, are they trying to tell me something?

(Mental Note: remember to revisit this when you are feeling experimental in college.)

Okay, the cake is done…can I open gifts now? I make a b-line to the presents, tear open the cartridge and it is…Video Checkers.

Alright..stiff upper lip kid. Its a new game after all, so why should you be down. This thing is going to be awesome! After all you love checkers and with a computer brained opponent, you will become the Checker’s Master. Two hours later you are trying on the sweater your Grandmother gave you? Can the game really be that bad?

As it turns out, their is not a huge call for so called “Checker’s Masters” and even if their was, Video Checkers does not do a great job training you to be one. The game is simple enough, you play Checkers. Its Checkers on a TV screen, which is just like the the checkers not on the TV screen. The biggest difference between the two is that one is horizontal, the other is vertical AND one you play with a friend (or enemy) and the other is horribly tedious.

This is exactly how I remembered the game back in the early 1980s and my opinion has not changed much. Sure it is checkers, so what are you going to do with checkers? But they confound the game by making it difficult to move the pieces (diagonal is not your friend with an Atari joystick) and at higher levels, the game takes forever to make a move. So if you want to play a challenging game, and I would think you would want to, plan on each move by the computer taking at least 5 minutes.

Admittedly, this time around, I did not get to play the game with a friend, but I think if given the choice between firing up the Atari and playing Video Checker or breaking out the board game and playing Checkers, I will choose the board game. One this I do love is the packaging on Video Checkers, which would have you believe that Checkers is the game of royalty, but beyond that, I like very little about the game. I can only imagine that 10% of my animosity towards the title comes from lingering birthday disappointment. With that knowledge, I am going to have give the game a mere 1 star.

Watch some “Exciting” Video Checkers Gameplay

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Garry Vander Voort

Editor/Podcaster at Retroist
The Retroist is like a BBQ on a bun without the bones. You're only human daddy. Chomp!
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