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3-D Tic-Tac-Toe (Atari 2600) artwork

3-D Tic-Tac-Toe (Atari 2600) review


"I sat down to spend a little quality time with the games of yore on the venerable Atari 2600. First out of the box was 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe. This was one of the ''launch titles'' for the Atari 2600. However, when held up to such classics of that time, games such as Combat, Adventure, Night Driver and the seminal Space Invaders, 3D Tic-Tac-Toe doesn't hold up very well. "



I sat down to spend a little quality time with the games of yore on the venerable Atari 2600. First out of the box was 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe. This was one of the ''launch titles'' for the Atari 2600. However, when held up to such classics of that time, games such as Combat, Adventure, Night Driver and the seminal Space Invaders, 3D Tic-Tac-Toe doesn't hold up very well.

The overall concept of the game is your standard “conversion of a traditional game to video” fare. You attempt to beat the computer in a game of what is called tic-tac-toe, but 4 in a row are required to win. The folks at Atari provide a novel twist. The playing field is 4 stacked 4x4 grids, and you can score a four-in-a-row using all four grids. The concept is rather difficult to express in words... those of you familiar with Well-tris would have a good handle on the depth aspect of the game.

However, where this game fails is in the execution. I don't expect a lot from an Atari 2600 cartridge, especially an early release like 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe however, this is a poor effort even by those lax standards. The graphics are very plain, with the three 4x4 grids, your X's and O's, and nothing else. I can say, however, that the graphics are very clear, you can tell what's what. There's a small beep when you make a move, but no fanfare or anything to signify a win. (If you think I'm being harsh on an old game, bear in mind that Adventure at least had a flashing screen and a “rising fanfare” sound that played when you won). And finally, the computer AI is a joke, and even a young child would be able to defeat the computer handily.

On the positive side, there's nothing difficult about the control scheme, the joystick navigates your cursor and the fire button places your X or O symbol in the grid. Anyone, including lab animals, should be able to pick up a joystick and start playing.

I imagine this game was approved for development to pad out the cartridge library prior to the system's release. All in all, this game represents more a circa-1979 computer programming student's class project and less a professionally produced, commercially released video game. Although 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe was released during a time when any video game concept was considered a novelty, it lacks the professional polish of a commercial product. This lack of quality would sadly become the legacy of Atari leading into the video game crash, but it is uncharacteristic of the early Bushnell-led Atari days.

I don't imagine anyone is reading this review to decide whether to purchase this title. You may, however, be considering an emulation option. If that is the case, my advice to you is to get a book on programming and make your own game. You'll learn something, and you'll create a better, more enjoyable product. Plus, you'll have something to show your mom.

Rating: 3/10

ddsilver's avatar
Community review by ddsilver (December 23, 2003)

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