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COMPUTAINMENT

A Super 'Stratego'

December 01, 1990|JEANE deCOSTER and DAVID CROOK | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Accolade's "Stratego" is a fine new version of an old stalwart board game. With a few electronic bells and whistles added, new "Stratego" faithfully replicates the original, which has long served as an easy introduction to chess-like two-player strategy games.

There's enough to the game to keep an adult amused for awhile and plenty for a curious youngster who has passed the "Life" or "Parcheesi" stage and is ready to take on more intellectually challenging games.

"Stratego" is a stylized simulation of Napoleonic warfare that pits two chess-like armies on a grid. Each army, yours and the computer opponent, is comprised of 33 moveable pieces plus stationary mines and a flag. Pieces vary in rank and strength from a weak scout to the powerful marshal.

The object is to capture your opponent's flag.

Unlike chess, you do not get to see your opponent's pieces until they are revealed in a battle. So, like "Battleship," much of the challenge of "Stratego" comes from trying to remember and keep up with your opponent's veiled army.

The computer version adds a few variations, including some optional rule changes that heighten the challenge considerably.

The only obvious shortcoming of computer "Stratego" is that it does not allow for two humans to play each other. Given the age group that is most likely to play this game, a little socialization could go a long way.

Like original "Stratego," the computer game is not up to the intellectual level of "Risk," "Diplomacy" or, certainly, chess itself. But "Stratego" is nonetheless a classic in its own right. And this new version does it ample justice.

STRATEGO

Rating: * * * * IBM and compatibles, Tandy, Macintosh; 512K/640K VGA. List: $44.95.

Computer games are rated on a five-star system, from one star for poor to five for excellent.

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