3D Tic-Tac-Toe for the Atari 2600
I do not recall EVER playing 3D Tic-Tac-Toe as a kid, although I was aware of its existence. Not at any time did I ever have the urge to even try it (which is weird since it says it is 3D) or even investigate it. In fact, when in the 1990s I picked up my first copy at a garage sale as part of a lot of carts and controllers, I laughed and put it in the box with all my other loose carts.
When I decided to do my review this week, I thought to myself. Oh, why not get that copy of 3D Tic-Tac-Toe out and give it a shot. So I did, and when I put the cart into my 2600 and turned it on, it made a frightful sound. Sort of like the wail of a digital banshee that has been trapped in a plastic prison for too long. I quickly shut off the game and went and cleaned the contacts and made sure it had not damaged my VCS in any way. Everything looked okay, so I gave it another shot, and it worked perfectly this time.
Or as perfect as it can, remember this is Tic-Tac-Toe.
Let me get something out of the way for those who did not know or guess at the veracity of this game’s claim to be 3D. This game does not come with 3D glasses, nor does it have some fancy graphic effect that makes it appear 3D. Instead, the “3D” they are referring to is the angle at which they put the Tic-Tac-Toe. They draw it as a Rhomboid. Which I guess makes it sorta 3D in that it sorta gives the illusion of a Z access. Sorta. The end effect is to make the game hard to manage because they intentionally squish what would normally be perfect legible Xs and Os.
This game was designed by the very talented Carol Shaw, so the implementation of the game is well done. The gameplay is alright in that it is not a straight-up Tic-Tac-Toe game because instead of one grid they give you four grids of X and O slamming madness to wrap your brain around, which is cool in concept, in the way Star Trek chess is cool in concept, but in actuality, it is just sort of needlessly complicating to a really basic game.
You almost immediately become aware that Shaw probably did this to try and make a Tic-Tac-Toe game for the 2600 more like an implementation of Qubic and not because someone in the secret Atari game lab had some “AHA” moment while scribbling away in his notebook.
All those complaints aside, I really tried to enjoy this, but playing against the computer is brutal. It can take forever to make a move, as the game moves along. If my Atari 2600 has been involved in that end scene of War Games (spoiler!) then we would all have been nuked before game 1 was finished. I imagine the game would be slightly more enjoyable with a real-life friend, but since I have none available, I will only be left imagining. Join me now in that dream world, will you…
Atari pal and I are seated on the worn plush sofa of my darkly paneled game room. Cold sodas sweat on the coffee table next to the trusty Atari 2600. We laugh as I nearly topple the bowl of pretzels as he places another X in the wrong spot and complains loudly. He is the worst 3D Tic-Tac-Toe player on the planet, but he doesn’t care. He loves playing games, so if he loses every once in a while he doesn’t mind.
Oh, wait the pizza guy is here. I get up to get the pizza, making my buddy promise to not make a move while I am gone. He fakes like he is going to mess with the game and we both laugh…..
Sorry, didn’t mean to drift off like that. I just have so much time to daydream between computer turns that I tend to…
Okay back. Little catnap while I wait for another turn. It gave me time to think. I am not sure that even if the problems with the layout being improved or the AI being fixed would help this game. Tic-Tac-Toe, the non-3D version, works because you have nothing else to so, it is the last resort of two bored people. Making it computerized and allowing it to be played solitaire style does not help (which is why you do not see a version of Tic-Tac-Toe on modern computers). This game is not great, by the standards of yesterday or today. So I am going to have to give it a mere 1-star rating.