Review by Psycho Penguin
"Going up against a machine too strong"
We all have played our share of oddball titles out there. You know the ones I am talking about. Titles that you don't expect to be any good, until you actually play them. Then you find an underrated gem. This happened to me quite a few times back in the day when I was a wee youngster, and Spot: The Game is one of the prime examples of this. It captures the essence of checkers quite well, and also brings some uniqueness to the formula. It adds up to one of the finer gaming experiences on the NES, whether you wish to play single player or multiplayer. There's nothing like a good game of checkers, except for when there's a good game of Spot The Game to be played. I was amazingly impressed with this game, much more than I expected to be, and if you give the game enough time, you might find yourself to be pleasantly surprised, as well.
This is a pretty simple game, so I am not going to bore you with 100 gameplay paragraphs like I normally do. The game plays a lot like a typical checkers game, with some new twists. The object of the game is to take over your opponent's pieces. You go turn by turn, filling up a spot on the grid. If your piece lands next to an opponent's piece, you basically capture that piece and make it your own. This can become awfully fun later on in the game, as you start to get more and more pieces on the board. Instead of capturing one piece, you can rack up combos by placing your pieces in strategic locations, and everything in your line would then be yours. This was one of the most fun aspects of Spot The Game, as combos could become more frequent as you progress in the game.
Whether you are playing against the friend or computer, Spot The Game is an extremely fun game. It's pretty addictive, if you give it enough time to become addictive. Multiplayer Spot is always pretty fun, as you can get a buddy to join you in some addictive board game manner. The game combines the fun factor of checkers with the uniqueness of a video puzzle game, and that's what makes it so great. Plus, you get 512 different boards to choose from in the game. Each will play differently, and it adds to the replay value here alone. Plus, you can also create your own board. This is another addictive element, and one of the first instances of a game allowing you to create a board or track (Excitebike is the only one I can think of that had a create feature before Spot The Game did).
The only problem is somewhat minor, and that is that matches with the computer take too long. Due to the complex nature of the game, and the fact that combos become so frequent later on in the game, you will find yourself switching pieces back and forth at will for minutes on end. It might not seem like much at first, but when you're trying to end a game, you will find the tedious nature of ''place piece, flip piece'' to get annoying quickly. However, if you can handle this minor flaw (and with a little bit of strategy, you can easily overcome it anyways) the game is still a whole lot of fun.
The game has some decent controls, too. You move the pieces via a mouse-like cursor which can be controlled via the directional control pad. When you find the place that you want to move the piece to, you either push A or B. The controls are very simple, yet effective, and they respond quite well. I had no problems at all with the controls in this game, which is quite important, because in some board games, controls can be an issue. I was quite relieved to discover that this game controls flawlessly, however.
Oh yeah, Spot The Game has some nice graphics, as well. For those of you that don't know, Spot was a red dot with glasses that was 7-Up's mascot for a long time. The board here is green, with two colored pieces. Simple, yet very effective. There's no need to get overdone with the graphics in color like in certain other board games, so I always appreciated the simple yet very good looking graphics in this game. The pieces animate very nicely, and the board looks simple and well done. The cool thing with the graphics here is that Spot changes animation each time you move a piece. He has a ton of different animations, and he'll do a different one each time. Sure, after a while you might see the same one, but chances are it'll bring a smile to your face just as much as the first time you saw it. He really is cute, and some of the animations he does are just priceless.
In addition to the cute graphics, the game also has good sound and music. The game only features one song, so you'd think it would get on your nerves after a while, especially once you first hear it. It is quite upbeat and high-pitched, but it captures the essence and feeling of the game perfectly. The one music track will never get on your nerves, though, and it actually becomes quite pleasant to listen to. I can hum the song in my head for days after I get off a gaming session of Spot The Game. So, the music is really good, and accompanying the track you hear are some of the best sound effects out there. You get the basic sound effects of moving pieces, but the sound effect you hear when a piece is flipped is just classic. The sounds are not really needed in a puzzle game, but Spot The Game delivers in this area, too, so that's like bonus points for it.
It's one of the most addictive puzzle games on the NES, whether you are playing single player or multiplayer. The fact that there is create-a-board mode really adds so much to the replay value, more than you may think. It's always fun to create an unique board and then challenge the computer to a friend to the game. Plus, with 512 pre-programmed boards included in the game, you will never get tired or bored even if creating boards is not your thing. The basic game itself also happens to be one of the most addictive and replayable games to come along in a while. The premise seems so simple, but once you start playing, you will find yourself hooked to it. Maybe it is true that the most complex things in life are really the most simple. I usually find myself hooked on simpler games, and Spot The Game is a prime example of this.
The single-player game is quite challenging at first, before you get the hang of how things work. The computer will never resort to cheating, which is always a good thing. If there's one thing I hate about most video games, is that the computer substitutes ''hard earned victory'' with ''cheating its way to the top'', but Spot The Game doesn't have that problem for the most part. It's kind of hard to cheat in a game like this, anyways. Sure, the computer will do a lot of combos, but you have to be ready for that sort of thing. This game requires a lot of planning, patience, and strategy in order for you to truly succeed in it. You won't become too successful at it until you put in the time and effort to become good at it, so don't expect a cakewalk at first. Plus, some of the board designs are a tad tricky and will take some time getting used to. It's one of the more challenging puzzle/board games out there, but the computer is fair, which is all I ask for.
There's nothing really wrong with Spot The Game. If you can handle some matches which can get to be pretty long and tedious, you will find one of the better puzzle/board games on the NES. Forget Connect Four, forget Othello, and forget checkers. If you have a NES and are in the mood for a little board game action that's addictive, unique, and fun, look no further than here. Don't think this game is another 7-11 advertisement, because it's not. You see Spot a lot, but you barely have to put up with 7-11 advertising. I was quite surprising. The lack of music is a concern, until you find out the one song is quite enjoyable and pleasant to listen to. The gameplay is so great and fun to play, and the game has tons of replay value due to the create-a-board feature. It even has nice graphics! If you're looking for an underrated gem for your NES, look no further than this, because they don't become more overlooked and underappreciated than this.
Now, whatever happened to Spot, anyways?
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/07/03, Updated 07/07/03
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