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Review: Othello (Switch)

As gamers push companies hard to produce top-of-the-line hardcore titles, there may be a time every now and again where one may crave something to pick up and play for a few minutes. This happened to me when I decided to buy Othello from the Nintendo Switch eShop. This is a digital conversion of the board game of the same name.


The most important thing featured on the screen is Othello‘s grid. Players place black and white circles onto the grid to make any significant actions in the game. That’s about all there is to it, other than the generic interface and menu icons.


Two background tracks make up Othello‘s soundtrack. One plays in the menu, and the other plays during gameplay. Both pieces remind me of the online shop music Nintendo would use for the Wii, DSi, and 3DS.I definitely wish there was more to the soundtrack.


Othello is a short board game that can be played with two people competitively. True to the physical board, both players try to outdo each other by strategically placing their checkered pieces across each other. The goal for a player is to connect his or her movements vertically, horizontally, or diagonally over the opponent’s pieces. Whoever has the most pieces on the grid wins. If you want to feel what Othello is like, there’s a Flash version of the game you can play online here.

This Nintendo Switch version doesn’t play around with the fundamentals. The game functions as expected. In that way, it is an enjoyable experience. Here’s the problem: It is painstakingly lacking in content. Granted, there are all kinds of controller options to play, including the use of the console’s touchscreen. However, the only gameplay options there are in the entire package are either facing a CPU or one another. There are sixteen difficulty levels for the former, one can face even the highest level from the get-go.

The CPU also appears to be kind of obnoxious regardless of what difficulty level is picked. I was obviously expecting to get my butt handed to me on Lvl. 16, but on Lv. 1 too? It gets especially annoying when the player is unable to move; that “X” icon in the center of the screen basically indicates that the CPU has him or her read like a book. My victories were fairly awarded in the earlier levels. Now for level. 16 I found that I’ve only ever been able to win if I used the white checker pieces. Because the black checker pieces always go first, I imagine the CPU already figured out how to beat me from that point. The CPUs are certainly not impossible to beat they sure are stingy. One other thing I’d like to note is that there are certain instances where the CPU would stall the game for about up to thirty whole seconds before making a move. It would otherwise only take a couple seconds before doing so. Why couldn’t the CPU just make the move instantly and keep the pace going?


With the lack of content in mind, it’s hard to recommend getting Othello on the Switch. There just isn’t an incentive to keep coming back to it other than besting the CPU (or a friend) every once in a while. There could’ve been unlockables like decorative set pieces, different music tracks, or even some gameplay quirks. Anything to keep the game from being little more than this bare-bones offering. As is, it feels like it was rushed to secure a spot in the Nintendo Switch’s launch lineup when it released in EU/JP territories. It’s still fun when killing time for a little bit.

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