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Black Box (IPCO, 1982) (pc game)
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  • Courtesy of My Abandonware.
  • Courtesy of My Abandonware.

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Take a trip into the past with this unusual early adaptation of an obscure board game which, although simple in concept, proves to be surprisingly captivating. The basic set-up is as follows: you are presented with an 8x8 grid in which are hidden several atoms. Your job is of course to find them all and this is achieved by projecting rays into the grid and watching what happens as light passes through. If you hit an atom, the light will be absorbed while those which pass one square away will be reflected so it's a case of firing off a few rays and then making an educated guess as to where the atoms lie. It would be all too easy to just guess randomly (which would rather defeat the exercise) but in order to counteract such a lack of sportsmanship, you lose points for rays which miss completely or when you guess incorrectly, thus encouraging some serious thought about the whole affair, while you also gain them for correct guesses and accurate positioning of light. It's all incredibly simple stuff that might seem to be lacking in sophistication, boiling down as it does to being little more than a guessing game, but in practice, this proves to be quite addictive stuff. Visually of course, this is nothing to write home about but if you enjoy cerebral puzzlers like Sokoban and Rubik's Cube, then the same kind of appeal is to be found here. It's not a game which is going to keep you entertained for hours, as after you've played one round, you've pretty much seen everything the game has to offer but while it lasts, this is intriguing stuff.

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