Let's get the predictable bit over with first YES, it does make you think. This sort of puzzle game has been noticeable by its absence on the Amstrad but anyone looking for a mental challenge That doesn't involve arcade adventuring just logic and analysis will be more than happy.
The rules of the game are very simple but as with games like Othello and Chess learning the rules is the easy part, discovering the tactics and strategies is another. The game takes place on a 6x6 grid onto which counters can be pushed by the two players The counters can be pushed on from the right and or bottom edges of the grid and when they arc the row or column they're pushed into moves along one square.
The aim is to get four counters in a line horizontally, vertically or diagonally before your opponent. He can be The computer on one of seven difficulty levels or a human opponent against whom several different types of game can be played The computer opponent plays a good game on all seven levels of play, taking a long time to move on 5 7 but playing fast and well on level four in particular.
The player can fake as long as he likes to move against the computer and against such a logical silicon mind that time is needed to analyse all the possible moves. The early decisions are easy but once five or six counters are on the board things start to get very complicated. It's practically impossible to fill the whole board with counters without somebody winning but even if you should manage it play continues because counters just disappear off the top and left of the grid when pushed off.
The game selections before and during the game are made using single keystrokes and icons. There are plenty of options that will allow you to change the program in many ways. The most important is the two player option where the players can have special games of speed and blitz think Speed Think sets a time limit on each individual move exceeding which forfeits that move, and blitz think sets a limit for the whole game and if either player's runs out they lose the game There are also tutorial and solve games in which the computer tenches you the game by marking your moves in a game or sets you problems to solve respectively. Tutorial is annoying in the extreme since ii doesn't always let you play the best move - computers don't always know best. The problems are more fun all six of them can be solved in two moves by player one but finding the solution can be quite tough.
There are lots of other options available. On the mam menu you can change the counter colours or have a green screen setting, put the sound on or off and load or save the game. Both main displays are attractively presented but the sound is a single beep which is best turned off.
The options within the game are more interesting and allow you to indulge in some underhand tactics There are-level and last move indicators, the Former of which can be changed and the latter used m long games where you've got time to make the tea to check up on what the computer s been up to. There's a function where the computer will suggest the next move for you and one whore you can force the computer to play the next move. The nicest option is the one where you can take the game back two moves at a time if a losing situation looks like coming up.
When the game is won or lost a replay of all the moves can be shown and a q uick analysis made of where you went wrong or right. You can oven use the solve option to set up a position for analysis or to challenge another human player to crack it.
It's a well presented game with plenty of options and of course endless variation in the games that can he played Its only flaw is in the lack of a scoring system for the contests but many happy hours will be spent sliding counters even it the tally has to be kept on paper.
BW , AMSTRAD ACTION #6