Othello

Othello

                     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.

 

Othello (Japan)000

                                 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 intially 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.

 

Othello (Japan)001

                                                        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.

 

B

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5 thoughts on “Othello

  1. As an aspiring actor, the many allusions to Shakespeare in this review make me very happy indeed. I remember trying the NES version of Othello one summer’s eve and being losing harder than Shylock in The Merchant of Venice. I lost so badly I may as well have challenged a dictionary to Scrabble. Admittedly, I’m terrible with board games of either the electronic or physical kind, so it’s not that surprising, but I still felt bad. So, yeah, not great memories of Othello, but there you go.

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    • Othello is just tricky, especially with computer opponents. I feel like I’ve gotten better the last couple games I’ve played and I still suck.

      Aspiring actor, eh? Are you still in school or out in the world, looking for parts? Either way, Godspeed in your endeavors, sir!

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      • Still in school, though I’m in my final years now. I’m planning on attempting RADA (which is Britain’s most prestigious acting university) but if that fails, which it might, I plan on going into physics. I’ve been told it’s something of a different career from acting, but hey, sounds fun!

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  2. I think outside of the board game, the only video version I have played is the 2600 version. And I have never desired to play Othello again after that as there really is nothing added to the game from newer releases really for me. Maybe if someone made a super crazy version like they do with some of the Mahjong games with crazy anime story’s or characters and battle modes it might be worth checking out. (I can’t wait to see you review Mahjong Cop on the Mega Drive…… Well not really.)

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