That double-crossing creamy center…
PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous
PUBLISHER: Sega (1985), Tsukuda Original (1983)
DEVELOPER: Tsukuda Original (port by Sega)
GENRE: Board game
RELEASE DATE: 1985 (1983 within the Othello Multivision)
When Tsukuda Original took the board game Reversi and trademarked it under the name “Othello,” they did so because of the colors of the game’s pieces. They felt that the interaction between the black and white pieces reflected the bitter relationship between two of the characters from Shakespeare’s infamous play of the same name: Othello, who is black, and Iago, who is white. I didn’t know about the game’s connection to the play prior to playing Othello, but upon learning this information, I can’t say I’m surprised. I chose black in every game I played, and white was always a sneaky vicious bastard.
Black player waits for no machine!
In Othello, you transform your opponent’s black/white pieces into the opposite color. Each game starts with two white pieces and two black pieces laying next to each other in diagonal formations. Let’s say your opponent is white and you’re black (because black is the color of coffee and a moonless sky and dark chocolate and is therefore superior – also I’m aware that black and white aren’t really “colors,” but for the sake of this review and my mind, they are). You effectively trap white pieces between black pieces, and the white becomes black. Of course, white can do the same to your black, so you gotta be careful where you place your pieces. Just because a move initially overturns a dozen pieces and looks like it will win you the game doesn’t mean it will. Take note of where the computer might lay their piece after you’ve laid your piece, and you’ll stand a better chance than if you let the pieces fly where they may.
Sega’s SG-1000 version is actually a re-worked version of Tsukuda Original’s Othello, included in the hardware of their SC-3000 clone, the Othello Multivision. While I wasn’t able to find the BIOS of the Multivision to compare the two versions, the SG-1000 version is clean, fast, frustrating, and simultaneously playable with a friend. In other words, it’s everything I expect and want from a video game port of Othello. The only complaint I have is the lack of increased challenge within the five difficulty levels. Level 1 was no more or less challenging than Level 5, which doesn’t make a lick of sense.
I am slain…
Curious difficulty levels aside, extended sessions of Othello are guaranteed to sharpen the mind and clench (clenchen?) the buttocks. And now that you know the white pieces represent Iago, you kinda have to pick black, lest your moral sensibilities crumble like so many Shakespearean corpses.