"Strip... Othello?" I'll admit that, when Stuart pressed Back Sides into my hand, I did actually blink. Twice.
"Strip Othello," he confirmed. The idea behind Back Sides is actually quite clever. Sort of. You know, in Othello, you have to flip counters from your opponent's colour to your colour? Well, in Back Sides, the counters are replaced by tiles, and when you flip them to your 'colour', they reveal parts of pictures, the idea being that you've got to earn the right to get a good look at the pictures by winning games.
And, programmers being programmers, the pictures are of naked ladies. Or, at least, ladies that start off sort of naked-ish, and then get more and more naked as you win games and work your way through the difficulty levels.
The levels are numbered: 1 (tediously easy). 2 (completely impossible unless you think each move through for at least half an hour before doing it), and, er, that's about as far as I got.
So I didn't actually get to see many 'naughty bits', except a couple that seemed to be poking out by accident in one of the 'Level 1' pictures.
My limited brain power was, of course, largely to blame. But I couldn't help feeling a little hard done by when, every time I misplaced a piece and conceded defeat, I found myself back on the title screen (after much disk accessing). There are no second chances in this game. (Well, you can get around the problem by saving your position but that's extra hassle).
It is quite a novel idea, after all
And, talking of technical flaws, Back Sides has got plenty more. Like the horrendous amount of disk accessing, which I just mentioned. And the 'Abort' icon, which, if you click on it, does just that - there's no "Are you sure? Y/N?" or anything. And the general scruffiness of the whole thing.
But presumably the 'girls' themselves are supposed to make up for all that. So, how do they look? Well, Kate's quite nice, but the rest are a pretty unseemly bunch, and I'm sure they look much nicer with their clothes on. (To be honest, I'd rather have had some nice landscapes unfolding before my eyes. Or some pictures of famous people. Or a Far Side cartoon, which you can only read once you've uncovered all the tiles, Or maybe they could have worked some animation into it. Anything, really).
It's become something of a tradition when reviewing a strip poker game to mark it down simply for being a strip poker game, muttering something about top-shelf magazines being much cheaper and having better pictures in. Now I wouldn't know about that, but I do know what a proper review is meant to consider the target audience's requirements above those of the reviewer.
And I have to assume that there are people out there to whom the concept of a strip Othello game might seem quite appealing. It is quite a novel idea, after all.
But it just hasn't been very well done. The Othello-playing side of things works okay, but the basic mechanics are all over the place. And, while the naked ladies might appeal to some quarters, the pictures are a it too fuzzy to be of much, er, practical use.
Perhaps a better strip Othello game will come along one day. Perhaps one won't. I'm not too bothered either way. And I wouldn't advise you to be either, even if you're really into both Othello and rude pictures.