‘Othello’ Review: Simple — Maybe Too Simple

I love Othello. I first started playing the game on the Atari 2600, as the simple concept was incredibly easy to learn, yet very hard to master. Othello was originally called Reversi until Mattel trademarked the name “Othello” for a board game version. The game, under either name, has been around since the late 1800s, proving that the concept is timeless.

Othello is played with two players, on a 8 x 8 grid, with 64 pieces, one side black, the other side white. Players try to “capture” (or make one color) the pieces on the board by placing their tokens around the other players’ pieces. The winner is determined by how many spaces are occupied once all the spaces are covered, or if the other player’s pieces are all captured. It’s part checkers, part Mahjong, part chess, and all strategy.

Now, Othello is available for the Nintendo Switch as an eShop game, and the simple concept works incredible well for the mega-popular hybrid handheld/console system. Developed and published by ARC System Works and MegaHouse Corp., Othello translates well to the Switch system. Players can choose various controller options, including single Joy Cons held upright or horizontal, or using the Switch’s Joycon controller apparatus for single player games against the CPU. This version keeps the simplicity, by offering only two game modes, 1P vs CPU, or 1P vs 2P. There is no online component.

Othello Review

In the single player mode, there are 16 levels of difficulty, and the CPU does get harder and smarter on higher levels. Players have to think offensively and defensively at the same time, and strategy and token placements play a much bigger role as the game goes on.

The music in Othello is soothing and is not distracting, even as it is a little generic, even for a Nintendo digital-only game. Unfortunately, that is all that Othello for the Nintendo Switch offers. There are no options to speed up games for more challenge, or online games, or even choosing different colors for the game tokens. It’s either black or white, and that’s it.

Othello Review

I’ve found myself thinking all weekend about what MegaHouse could have done to spruce up the game, but really, there isn’t any solution. This is the same game that I played back on the Atari 2600, albeit with much better graphics and much faster processing times. Othello is what it is, and while I’ve enjoyed my time playing it, and will continue to play it (I find it incredibly relaxing and its good exercise for my brain), I can’t help but think that others may be disappointed in the barebones presentation here.

Othello (or Reversi) is one of my favorite all time board games, as the simplicity of it hides some deep strategy. With the Nintendo Switch still learning to crawl in terms of its game library, its nice to have a game like this to serve as a respite from exploring Hyrule or SnipClipping my way through some silly puzzles. If you love Othello, you will enjoy this game. If you’ve never played it, there is no better time, as the game is value priced on the Nintendo eShop. Just don’t go in expecting more than just the core game.

Othello for the Nintendo Switch is available now for $4.99 on the Nintendo eShop. This review is based off a code provided by the publisher.

Othello Review
out of 5

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