Hey, time for something weird and neat and cool and… uh Spot! No, not Cool Spot, that wouldn’t come until later (although perchance you did enjoy my random decision to play that game already), whereas this is the first game to be made with the little 7-up mascot (or should that be 7up? …or maybe even 7 Up? I can’t say as the cans ever made it clear as to a conventional spelling, and I don’t have a red dot key handy on my keyboard), developed in 1990 for the NES and later released on the Game Boy in 1991 (and abroad in 1992).
This game is also sometimes known as “Spot: The Video Game”…which would seem a bit unusual, considering the subject matter I upload, so I’ll just call it “Spot” and hope that nobody gets lost with “Cool Spot”…eugh, this could be a problem. Uh, in Japan, it was simply called “Spot”…maybe let’s just go with that excuse.
Anyway, the NES version is without a doubt the more…uh…shall we say complex version, allowing for up to four players and having animated spots moving around to explain how it was actually relevant to the mascot himself. I will say, however, that I found the sound effects and random interludes to be a bit more distracting and annoying than they were charming or endearing. The Spot movements themselves were rather interesting and amusing, though.
The Game Boy version, on the other hand, seems to have invested rather more than would be advisable in its whopping TWO songs, particularly as the first one is one you’ll want to skip over as soon as possible to get to the part where you can control the game (or at least set up your options) and the second will only play if either player hovers over the board without making a move for long enough. It’s still kinda interesting that they’re there to begin with, so I decided to let them play out for as long as they could. Actually, the title screen music does NOT give you a choice (the first time it loads up, anyway) and you’ll only be given the luxury of control from the game itself once you’ve let the extent of the game credits, such as they are, run their course.
The game itself is really nothing to do with Spot, as you might have guessed. It’s really a puzzle board game! What, that’s not the first thing that jumps to mind when you think of the bubbly lemon-lime soft drink? Oh, darn.
In fact, this is a licensed-property iteration of a much older game, originally known as Infection, and sometimes better known under a rereleased and rebranded game name of Ataxx. I believe the game did fairly poorly and went freeware in 1994 and is now purportedly in the public domain.
The rules of the game are fairly simple. Players take turns moving pieces. You can move any of your pieces to one of the eight adjacent spaces while leaving the original position occupied, from here on out otherwise called a “clone” move. You can also move one of your pieces up to two spaces away, leaving the original space unoccupied, to be referred to henceforth as a “jump.” When you make a move, any opposing pieces on the surrounding spaces will be converted into pieces of your own color. If you can make a move, you must. If you can’t make any moves, your turn is passed over. Once the whole board is filled up, the player that controls the most pieces is the winner.
In this game, distances across diagonals are considered equal to those across the orthogonal directions, so it might be just a tad tricky to get used to the flexibility of the jumps. Often, I’ll overlook a case where the other player can indeed jump from one tight spot into another, usually with varyingly devastating results for my own holdings.
For simplicity’s sake, this video happens to use the weakest of all AI difficulties, but you can also have a human control the other team. The NES game and indeed versions on most other non-monochrome systems before this one would allow up to four players…although it could’ve been a bit confusing and hard on the eyes at times trying to play with that many slight variations on the pieces’ designs if this version had also tried to accommodate.
Oh, and if you were wondering what’s up with the colors on the credits-scrolling version of the title screen or the fact that the “TO PLAY” indicator does NOT match the pieces on the board, the short version of the answer is that the Game Boy Player is in use here…and it’s essentially a Game Boy Advance in Game Boy Color mode. For those unfamiliar with how they handled the original non-color Game Boy games, it would actually detect and colorize the moving-objects layers differently from the background, somewhat interestingly bringing color to the originally colorless.
If I decide to follow up on this purely for the academic fascination with the AI level variations and behaviors, I’ll change the colorization scheme as per the “GAME BOY” (color!) startup screen with the A, B, and control pad modifiers…but I’ll try to stay away from the moderately confusing multi-color schemes.
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