Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Victor Musical Industries / Accolade / JPI

A lot of people, me included, look back on the Stratego board game quite fondly. For many of us, it served as a cool introduction to "strategic" gaming. But an introductory role and nothing more seemed, in my mind at least, to be what it's best suited for. After all, it's fairly rudimentary as far as thinking man's material goes, bearing greater resemblance to Memory than to Risk. Way back when, it was cool to command an army consisting of several different types of soldiers, but nostalgia and the neatness of premise I perceived in my younger days were not going to make the PCE game work for me now. And when I powered it up and got a glimpse of its simplistic graphics, I was about ready to write the title off.

But this version of Stratego managed to rekindle my interest in the concept. There's nothing impressive about its visuals, but what's cool in regards to them is that you can choose from a variety of very different boards and characters. Take fairy-tale beasts and send them up into outer space, or position modern armed forces atop a medieval battlefield. Or just stick with the tried-and-true dual-lake Stratego board with the customary game pieces you grew up with.

You get a handful of tunes to select from as well, and most of them are actually very good. And while there's no two-player mode (it simply could not work here considering the importance of secrecy in placing units), you can get a multi-round campaign going where the rules are changed up as you advance.

Surprisingly, I found that Stratego in its essence actually still stands tall as an extremely enjoyable game. You'd think that as a fan of classic 16-bit titles I would've remembered that "simplistic" oldies often contain more depth than they're given credit for, and the ones that were truly done right in the first place can offer tons of fun no matter how many years go by.

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