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Checkers - Atari 2600 - Activision     HTML Manual   

Checkers (Activision)

Activision
Checkers
Instructions

Everybody knows how to play Checkers, right? You're in for a surprise. Checkers is no longer just a one-on-one game. Now, the whole family can gang up and play against the Activision computer at three levels of challenge. Before you start playing, read these instructions carefully to review the basic rules and learn how to pick up and move your checkers.

CHECKERS BASICS

  1. Hook up your video game system. Follow manufacturers instructions.
  2. With power OFF, plug in game cartridge.
  3. Turn power ON. If no picture appears, check connection of your game system to TV, then try steps 1-3 again.
  4. Select game with game select switch.
    Game 1: You against the novice Activision computer.
    Game 2: You against the intermediate Activision computer.
    Game 3: You against the expert Activision computer.
    Game 4: You against another human opponet.
  5. Use left Joystick Controller to play the pieces on the bottom of the screen (Games 1, 2, 3, 4). Use right Joystick Controller for pieces at the top of the screen (Game 4 only). Computer plays the pieces at the top of the screen (Games 1, 2, 3).
  6. Choose position of red and white pieces by using right difficulty switch. The white pieces follow the switch position (up or down). (Left difficulty switch has no effect on game.)
  7. To start each new game, press game reset. The color of the flashing X tells you whose turn it is. White always moves first.
  8. When it's your turn, use your Joystick to move the flashing X diagonally and place it on top of the piece you want to pick up. Press the red button on your Joystick. The checker will now start flashing, showing that you've picked it up. Carry the piece to it's new square by moving the Joystick. Put the piece down by pressing the red button again.* If you try to move a piece to an illegal square, the computer won't let you put your piece down.

    *Note: Once you pick up a checker, until you press the button a secnd time to release it, you may still put it back where it was or move it to an adjacent legal square. A play is not complete until you press the button to put down a checker in a new spot. But once you've put it down in a new square, it's too late to change your mind. So take your time!

  9. Activision's computer enforces the rules of Checkers! You must take a jump if a jump is available (you can't pick up any other piece). When jumps are available with more than one piece, you can choose any one - but only one. If you make a jump and can jump again with the same piece, you must put down your piece to complete on jump, pick up your piece agian, jump again, and put it down again.
  10. When it's the computer's move, the game screen goes blank. That means he's thinking. Don't adjust your set! In Game 1, he'll use 5 to 15 seconds per move: in Game 2, up to 30 seconds; at expert (Game 3), 2 to 4 minutes per move. At each level, he's looking further ahead for his next moves.

    Average game times? Game 1 - 15 minutes
    Game 2 - 30 minutes;
    Game 3 - 2 hours or longer.

  11. To end the game: if each player has only one piece left, call it a stalemate and try a new game. But if a player loses all pieces or cannot make a legal move, then that player loses the game. When the computer loses, he will return the X to the upper right corner without making a move (sulking in the corner).

GENERAL RULES OF CHECKERS

  1. You can move only one checker per move, one square per move (unless jumping), and you move only along diagonals of the same color toward your opponet's end of the board. You can't move backwards unless you've been "Kinged" (see Rule #4).
  2. If you have a chance to jump one of your opponent's pieces, you must jump it. Any other move is illegal. If you are able to jump more than one piece in sequence, you must complete all jumps in a sequence.
  3. When you jump an opponent's piece, it is removed from play.
  4. A checker becomes a king by reaching the back line of the opponent's side of the board (a king appears as two stacked checkers). Kings move forward or backward, one square at a time, along diagonals of the same color.
  5. The player who removes all of his opponent's pieces is the Winner. Any player who cannot make a legal move has lost the game.

HOW TO BECOME AN EXPERT AT CHECKERS BY ACTIVISION
Tips from Alan Miller, designer of Checkers

Alan Miller loves the challenge of playing video games and has become the champion of Checkers and Dragster. He was a senior design engineer at Atari before joining Activision.

"I can't be very much help with tips on how to beat the computer at Checkers. When I discovered any weakness in his play, I worked to improve it. The darn machine frequently beats me.

"The computer will take the time allowed him by the difficulty level and examine all moves available for the next several plays. He will add up total pieces remaining for himself and his opponent and decide which move works best. You'll want to do the same, looking ahead as many moves as you can.

"One weakness the computer still has is that he lacks a killer instinct at the end of a game. Even when he has greater firepower than you do, he seems content to diddle about in the center of the board, not willing to risk an attack, content with a draw. This is your chance to take over the attack - but carefully!

"If you want to become a really good Checkers player, I suggest you go to the library and read up on the game, as I did before designing Checkers by ACTIVISION. Ther's a lot of strategy to learn. In many ways, Checkers is more difficult to play well than Chess.

"I want to acknowledge A. L. Samuels, whose pioneering work in the field of computer artificial intelligence has been a source of inspiration to me and to an entire generation of computer programmers and game players."


This manual was archived by Alexander Bilstein for Atari Age

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