A big part of the early Atari 2600 library consisted of digital adaptations of tabletop games — including several that could be played solo against a computer opponent.
One such example was Backgammon, a fairly comprehensive package that allowed one or two players to play Backgammon or Acey Deucey, with or without a “doubling cube” to facilitate gambling.
I’m not good at Backgammon, but aside from this adaptation’s bizarre paddle-based control system, this seems like as good a way as any to learn!
Yahtman is a game that hails from simpler times; a time when a video game about rolling a few dice a few times was enough to keep people occupied for… ooh, a good few minutes, at least.
It was also a time where there were plenty of people making software based around popular board and tabletop games — some licensed adaptations, others… less so.
Yahtman skirts the usual copyright-infringing tendencies of the era by providing us a game of “dice poker” or “yacht”, and absolutely, positively not Yahtzee, you hear me?
I absolutely loved MB and Games Workshop’s HeroQuest as a kid, but I rarely got the opportunity to play it on the tabletop with real people.
Imagine my delight, then, when Gremlin announced that they were developing a computerised adaptation of the board game I’d come to love so much. And imagine my even greater delight when it turned out to be a very good game indeed — although arguably perhaps a little too true to the original board game for a computer version!
This is a game that still holds up pretty well today in both its tabletop and electronic formats. Gather a party of friends — or go it alone — and see how far you can get in the substantial campaign!
Any time you undertake a project like this, you have to accept that some elements of it are just going to be less of a “spectator sport” than others.
Such is the case with today’s Atari ST game, the not-much-to-look-at-but-fun-to-play Shanghai by Activision, an adaptation of Mahjong Solitaire that makes use of the ST’s built-in graphical user interface GEM as the foundation of its aesthetic. This was not at all an unusual approach back in the day, and is akin to more modern PC games running on Windows 95 and beyond making use of a windowed interface and standardised Windows controls. Not the most beautiful look, no, but perfectly functional — and a lot more intuitive to those who perhaps don’t play a lot of games.
Compared to more recent adaptations of Mahjong Solitaire, Shanghai is fairly limited, but it nonetheless remains a pleasingly relaxing, Zen sort of experience. Once you figure out how to read the screen properly, that is…