Amazing Maze / Tic-Tac-Toe (Bally Professional Arcade, 1979)
I know many of you are very anxious to hear just how the Bally performed in Tic-Tac-Toe against the Fairchild Channel F's built-in Tic-Tac-Toe AI, but before I get to that, I have a solution regarding the heating problems some of us have been experiencing with the Bally Pro Arcade.
Bally vs. Fairchild: Tic-Tac-Toe
In order to get a statistically significant sample we figured we should pit the machines against each other for at least 29 games, but we decided to field 500 just to be sure. The Chronogaming Stadium was configured to facilitate this event and volunteers were scheduled in four-hour shifts to monitor and conduct the various matches. Unfortunately, before the opening ceremonies had commenced, one of the volunteers broke free of their restraints (obviously due to an underdosage in medication) and managed to release the remaining officiators before escaping from the Chrongaming campus. The ones who didn't escape were rendered useless, or perhaps I should say rended useless by the dogs. So, it ain't happening.
We did manage a screen shot from the Jumbotron, however.
Really, it's just Tic-Tac-Toe without the chicken.
For the graph theory crowd, Amazing Maze offers a Prim and proper diversion. For this home version of its 1976 arcade cabinet, The Amazing Maze Game, Bally upgrades the three-year-old game to color, gives it a graphical "castle" setting, and allows for three different difficulty levels, the standard "easy, medium and hard" flavors.
Below is a little movie of the computer making its way through a "hard" level maze. Frankly, it's a larger download than it's worth, but I'm not using the bandwidth for anything at the moment.
Amazing Maze Movie (Dead link removed. Sorry.)
So, what we're seeing here is what appears to be a computer player which already knows how to get through the maze, and it's just taking its time so that a slower, more organic player may have a chance against it. It might be a little more exciting if the computer went down a possible dead-end once or twice but moved a little faster. As it is, a human player need only get about halfway through the maze before zipping through the path they just saw the computer take from the beginning. Much more satisfying is to play against a fellow biological unit, or to pit two young human siblings against each other until they've had all the fun I could stand.
Here's another possible waste of a download. This is a shot of the Bally "thinking" while it's generating a maze.
Maze being generated. (Dead link removed. Sorry again.)
Now, is that just "lava lamp" noise, to let the user know the Bally is doing something or is that the Bally using video memory as a scratch pad for whatever minimal spanning tree algorithm it uses? Assuming that's what it uses. Dunno.
As a game, Amazing Maze is fun enough, but it doesn't have near the number of variations on a Maze game that the Fairchild Channel F Maze cartridge has. As a "fun" rating, I'll give it a "meh" -- it's not a bad Maze cart, it just isn't great either. At the moment, I'd prefer the Fairchild's rendition of the genre.
Next cart is also for Bally's machine, either Astro Battle or Space Invaders, I just can't decide. 10700