Saturday 17 October 2015

Connect Four (Microvision review)

Developer: Milton Bradley
Publisher: Milton Bradley
Released: 1979

Connect Four is a strategy game and one of four launch titles for the system (alongside Block Buster, Bowling and Pinball).

It supports 1-2 players and if you match-up against the Computer two different skill levels are available. The premise is very simple with the winner being the player who positions four markers in a row either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Each player takes turns dropping a single marker onto the playing field which is make up of a 7 x 6 grid; to do this you use the controller knob to select your desired column and then push the Down arrow on the keypad to drop your marker. Occasionally your block will skip manically between two columns but a gentle nudge of the controller knob settles it. At the start of a game you can press the COMP button to make the Computer go first if you wish. Your opponent uses markers where only the top-left and the bottom-right of the square is filled; this has clearly been programmed this way due to the system's LCD limitations but the lack of distinction and dull screen means it can be quite tricky to analyse the playing grid. However, as long as you stick to using the column/row borders on the overlay and take your time it's perfectly playable. The controls are fantastic and the CPU always manages to take its turn quickly so each match moves along at a brisk pace. My only issue (and it's probably just me being rubbish at Connect Four!) is that the Computer is extremely tough to beat! Even in Skill Level A I still haven't managed to win a match as the A.I. always seems to be two steps ahead. At least there's the two-player mode to fall back on though and this is where the game really shines. You simply take turns and pass the handheld to each other once you've finished placing a marker. It gets competitive very quickly but always manages to be an enjoyable social experience!

Connect Four is perfectly suited to the Microvision as it's slow paced, controls well and doesn't suffer from the dreaded screen blur. Each match only takes a couple of minutes and the fun gameplay encourages you to keep playing, even if the CPU does destroy you every single time!

Random trivia: The game was released in other European regions as 4 Gewwinnt, Puissance 4, Vier Op 'n Rij and Forza 4.

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