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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 that very compelling pink wrapping paper.
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. It’s 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 Checkers 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, there is not a huge call for ”Checkers Masters” and even if there 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 checkers not on the TV screen. The biggest difference between the two is that one is horizontal, the other is vertical, 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 since. 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 Checkers or breaking out the board game and playing Checkers, I will choose the board game.
One thing I do love is the packaging on Video Checkers, which would have you believe that checkers is the game of royalty. 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 checker out of 5.