Zillions of Games 2

Reviewed by: Lianne Reitter, send e-mail
Published by: Zillions Development Corp., go to the web site
Requires: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, 800 x 600 or higher graphics resolution, free hard-disk space for temporary files, DirectX 8 or higher for network play (included on CD), An Internet connection for online play (optional), a mouse/trackball with Immersion TouchSense® for haptic effects (optional)
MSRP: US$24.98 (download)

Oh, yeah, I got game. In fact I got Zillions of Games 2!

Never mind the play on words. Zillions of Games is actually 48 games for all you board game lovers who find yourself less and less in the company of real people and more and more with your on-line brethren. From classic Chess and Checkers to that back-seat-of-the-car-with-your-big-brother favorite Tic-Tac-Toe, this little piece of software has digitized versions of many of the old standard board games and a few that I'll bet you've never even heard of.

Remember Chinese checkers? How about a game of Chinese (or Korean or Thai or Burmese) Chess? If you want some time alone how about one of those solitaire games where you have to move marbles from one hole to another (Pogo?) until you only have one left. There are at least 4 versions of that classic (my mother-in-law is addicted to this one).

One of the oldest strategy games, "Go", is here too. One of the best ways we humans learned to conquer each other was by first training our brains to think well ahead of our opponent’s. We miniaturized the battlefield with scratches in the sand and used stones to represent the enemies’ armies. Go is a 4000 year old Chinese strategy game played with marbles on a grid. The object is to obtain territory by maneuvering your pieces to empty spaces on the board and capturing enemy pieces by surrounding them before they are able to surround you.

Some games you may never have heard of like Nim and Hip and Go-Moku. These are easier versions of the strategy game along the lines of Tic-Tac-Toe. There is a maze game and an ancient game called Towers of Hanoi where several disks of concentric sizes must be moved from one peg to another, but you can only move one disk at a time and each disk must be smaller than the one it is being placed on.

Remember those long family vacation drives when you were a kid? Invariably you drove your parents to the point where they were throwing just about anything in the back seat to keep you busy and invariably one of those things was this little puzzle with little square slidey pieces and you moved them back and forth and around and around until you got them all in the right order and made a picture? Well, we've got one of those here too, and trust me, just because you are a little older this one is no easier than it was when you were six.

The help menu in each game provides you with basic instructions, game strategy and even the history of the game including its origin and any back story of note. There's nothing like knowing the trivialities of a game to intimidate opponents with your vast knowledge and expertise.

In the Variant menu of each game you will find all the available board sizes and configurations while the Play menu allows you to get hints, switch sides (I like doing this when I'm losing against the computer, although it rarely helps in the end) and even take back your last move (something I do a lot come to think of it).

The Options menu allows you dumb down your computer opponent to Push Over level, which may help rebuild your self confidence a bit if you get tired of feeling the way you did in the back seat of that car and your older sibling was beating the crap out of you with every tic, tac and toe. Now, I don't want to give you the impression that these games are too hard, on the contrary, they are just as difficult or as challenging as you want them to be. Take my advice though, while you are in the options menu turn off the music, and depending on the game being played, the sound effects too. I won't go into any detail, but you'll be happy I pointed it out once you start playing.

And since these are digital versions, Zillions of Games 2 tracks every move made by you and your opponent, with a play by play screen to the right of the board, and will replay your victories (humiliations in my case) as though you had videotaped the entire battle with an overhead camera.

Now 48 games is not a zillion and although you can play for hours and hours by yourself, it is not for that reason that the word zillions has been used. As you may have gathered you can log on to an Internet session (or host your own) and play your favorites with all your online buddies (or make a few new ones from across the sea) giving you zillions of possible games to play. Logging on through a dial-up or high-speed connection is a simple process. I had no trouble finding worthy opponents online and the server side of Zillions of Games 2 seems to be well supported.

Now all I have to do is make sure my brother never finds about this software or it’s on-line play features because the last thing I need is to have those memories relived, even in the digital world of online gaming. Highly recommended.

Letters to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public. Send e-mail to: whine@kickstartnews.com




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