Video Checkers

Video Checkers
Company: Atari
Model #:
Carol Shaw
Year: 1980
Released the same year as Activision's Checkers.


Back when videogame consoles were still new to most people, it was common practice to make at least a few classic board games for a system.  These "classics" served two purposes:  1. They allowed people not familiar with popular arcade games (i.e. parents) to have a familiar old game that they could enjoy.  2. They were cheap and easy way to create library filler.  Needless to say almost every classic console had a least one checkers, chess, backgammon, and blackjack game to its name, and the 2600 was no different.


In an interesting twist of fate, it turns out that both Atari and Activision were working on their own version of checkers simultaneously.  Neither company knew what the other was up to, thus both were released to market at the same time.  Both carts were basically the same (checkers is checkers), although Atari's version was 4K while Activision managed to squeeze theirs into a miniscule 2K.  Also Activision's Checkers cart displays the pieces from somewhat of a sideways perspective, while Atari's is viewed from directly overhead.  It's hard to say which style is better, it all depends on what you like.


Since Atari gave Carol two extra K to work with, she was able to add some extra options no available in Activision's smaller checkers cart.  Video Checkers has nine different computer skill levels while Activision's Checkers only has three (although those three are killer!).  Video Checkers also included an interesting checkers variation called "giveaway" checkers in which the goal is to be the first player to loose or have all his pieces blocked by his opponent.  While I'm sure this variation was never as popular as regular checkers, it does breathe some new life into a very dated game.  Carol also added some coloring differences when the game is played on the pro levels (using the official tournament colors), but this is merely eye candy and doesn't really add anything to the playability of the game.  And for those of you who like to cheat (and who doesn't?), Video Checkers also allows the player to set-up the board in any manner they wish (even during a game!).


Overall I'd have to give the edge to Atari's Video Checkers, but in the end one game of checkers is really the same as the other.  While these board game simulations may not be of much interest in this day and age, they were once very popular when doing any common activity (such as playing checkers) on a computer was considered to be trendy.  Still if you have the urge to play checkers, you can't go wrong with the 2600.  The system may be 25 years old, but it can still whip your sorry butt 9 out of 10 times.


Version Cart Text Description
?????? V. Checkers C012636 (PAL) Final Version (PAL)


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