I was somewhat cynical about board games being transferred to the computer - after all, why use an expensive piece of equipment to do something which I can be done on a board - until I saw a group of children playing a computer at Chess. The amount of discussion that took place among those children was really amazing and it wouldn't have happened across a board, because they'd be in a one against one situation, too busy trying to beat the person sitting opposite. So, playing the computer doesn't dampen the competitive spirit, but it does help to encourage co-operation and the sharing of ideas and expertise.
The board version of Kensington was proclaimed Game of the Year when it was introduced in 1979. Like most successful games, the basic idea is very simple and can be learnt in a few minutes - but take a lifetime to master! It is a game of strategy, skill and logic played on an area consisting of a regular pattern of adjoining triangles, squares and hexagons. The object of the game is to try and occupy all six points of a while hexagon or a hexagon of one's own colour. The first player to do this wins.
The computer version of Kensington provides an "on-screen" board, which is an execellent reproduction of the original, and allow you to play against another opponent or against the computer. In the latter case, it provides you with an opponent whose skill level can be set to suit your own ability - novice, intermediate or experienced.
Be sure to read the instructions about entering the player's names carefully, otherwise you might end up as I did the first time and find the computer playing itself - an interesting and instructive experience as long as you've set the speed at which the program places the "stones" at the lowest setting!
Other options allow for use of colour television (this also means monitor) or black and white; watching the computer "thinking"; sound effects; using a board as well; and playing the two move system, which means that two moves must be completed before a player can rebuild a square or triangle.
The program prompts you to choose your colour and draws a stone to select and names of players are displayed at the bottom of the screen. Play alternates between the players, and if you wish to stop at any time simply press the Escape key. When it is your turn to place a stone on the board, a cursor will appear on the upper left-hand corner of the top-most square. The cursor is directed to the point where you want to place your stone using the keys in figure one. Pressing Return will fix your stone in place.
Assuming a hexagon is not completed before all the stones are placed on the board, the second phase of the game allows the stones to be moved around the board - using the same keys - until there is a winner or a draw is agreed.
Advertising for the original game suggested that it offered a formidable challenge to such classic rivals as Chess or Backgammon. Certainly, arcade game enthusiasts will have little trouble moving the cursor around the board and inexperienced operators will soon get the hang of it. This game requires more than just manual dexterity and will offer a great deal of pleasure to those who enjoy pitting their wits against a rival - be it another person or the computer.
I understand a disc version will be available from March.