Bridge (Atari 2600) review
"Activision had a wildly successful launch catalog for the Atari 2600. It is surprising that a company with such a keen understanding of the marketplace would release a game like ''Bridge''. The bridge playing crowd and the video game playing crowd didn't intersect much back in 1981, so this game came to be as a conceit to the designer more than as an attempt to reach a market segment. "
Activision had a wildly successful launch catalog for the Atari 2600. It is surprising that a company with such a keen understanding of the marketplace would release a game like ''Bridge''. The bridge playing crowd and the video game playing crowd didn't intersect much back in 1981, so this game came to be as a conceit to the designer more than as an attempt to reach a market segment.
That doesn't mean that ''Bridge'' was a bad game, however. On the contrary, it was an excellent simulator of playing contract bridge given the technology level of that era. What hurt it most was the fact that it did not teach the player to play bridge. A working knowledge of the game was required to enjoy this cartridge. A working knowledge of bridge is not required to enjoy this review, however, I am not going to elaborate on the mechanics of the game of bridge.
In Activision's version of bridge, the computer controlled both your partner and the opposing team. The AI controlling your partner was so detailed that a separate booklet entitled ''How Your Partner Bids'' was included with the game. This allowed you to maximize your possibilities with the cartridge and gave you the advantage of playing with a partner whose style you thoroughly comprehend.
For those with a knowledge of bridge, this game was easy to pick up and play. I learned the game in college, and had a fun 5 or 6 rounds with this cart before writing this review.
Graphically, this is below the average effort for Activision, but not without good reason. Most of the resources for this cartridge went into the detailed AI, leaving the graphics somewhat spartan, but comprehensible.
''Bridge'' was vastly ahead of it's time. The market for video games based on card games didn't really develop until computers became common in the workplace and Microsoft's ''Solitaire'' started a trend that rages on today. The advent of web based gaming then brought the bridge players out where they could test their skill against human opponents, and that is how bridge is best played, by humans with humans.
So, having said all that, it still burns down to the final question, ''Is this game worth your time and money?'' The answer is as complicated as this review. If you are already a bridge player, then you'd probably enjoy this cart as practice before the real thing. If you are not interested in bridge, or do not know how to play, I cannot possibly recommend this game.
I give the game itself a 7. It's a rather sophisticated bridge simulator that really stretches the ability of the Atari 2600. However, for those of you who are not bridge players, this is a strict 1.
Community review by ddsilver (October 26, 2004)
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