From the Database of Home of the Underdogs
GAME DESIGNER:John Thayer
Copyright 1984, John Thayer
Computer Dots is a fun little would-be coffee-break game. Basically a PC version of the game “Dots”, the game was written in 1984, and is somewhat of a jewel for that fact alone. For those as of yet uninitiated, here’s the game in a nutshell as written in the games’ own help file: “Dots is a complex version of the game played by school kids over at least the last half-century. It is difficult to pin down just when the game originated, but it remains a popular lunch break pastime in many schools across the country.
When the game is played on paper, rows of dots are drawn on a blank sheet to form a grid from ten to twenty dots square. The first player draws a line between any two dots, then the second player does the
same. Play continues in turn as each tries to draw lines that will keep the other from completing all sides of a box. If a player succeeds in completing a box, he marks it with his initials to claimit and then takes another turn. When all of the dots have been used and no more lines can be drawn play ends. Each player then counts the number of boxes claimed. The player with the highest score wins.
The computer game is played by the same rules, but the grid of dots is substantially larger and the computer auto-matically marks each box claimed and tallies the scores as play proceeds. Because of the size of the grid it becomes possible to develop extremely complex strategies to claim boxes later on in the game, which can take up to
45 minutes to play.”
Unfortunately, there are a few issues that brings the game down from top notch. The computer opponent is much too easy, and there’s no way to increase its difficulty. There’s also no way to play against a friend, but at 30-40 minutes a game, who would want to? The computer also connects dots seemingly at random (unless it sees an opportunity
to complete a square, which it always does without fail), so there’s not much structure until the board is almost completely filled with lines and squares finally start to emerge. Even so, the computer is still too easy to beat assuming you find yourself able to focus whatsoever.
The game really wants to be a fun, addictive coffee-break game like its lunch-break cousin, but unless you’re employed at 3D Realms and working on Duke Nukem Forever, you’re probably not taking the 40-minute breaks required to finish a game of Computer Dots. It’s good boredom relief, however, and the game is fun regardless, if you’re into simple board games like Go-Moku.