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Going to Hoyle in a Handcart

Classic Games on CD-ROM

By Jim Bray

Old fashioned board games are back in digital form with Sierra Online s "Hoyle Classic Board Games" collection.

This Windows CD-ROM comes with ten of the games you probably played way back when, but jazzed up for the multimedia age with good graphics and sound  and with a dozen computerized opponents thrown in who are ready to take you on. You can also tackle whatever motley crew of cyber-players lurks on the Internet.

Classic Board Games comes with standards like Battleship (called Battling Ships here, undoubtedly for copyright reasons), Dominoes, Pachisi, Snakes & Ladders, Chinese Checkers, Backgammon, "Zen Bones" (a.k.a. Mah Jong) and, of course, Chess and Checkers.

They ve actually done a pretty neat job with this collection  and been quite witty along the way. For instance, one of the tile setups for "Zen Bones" is called "Roswell" and looks like a "Gray" alien s head, complete with big eyes.

When I tried Backgammon, choosing one of the virtual opponents provided, I didn t play quickly enough for its taste and it started insulting my intelligence and motivation.

"Battling Ships"It was just like playing against family members &

I was waxing the cyberdude, too, until the very end when (I suspect with computer assistance) it suddenly raced ahead and beat me by one checker.

Dominoes, meanwhile, saw me thump the other guy s binary butt, eliciting a comment from him that mine was a win "of gigantic proportions." It made me feel so good I took my gaming bravura to Snakes & Ladders, which provided more opportunities for silicon-based levity. One of the other players, "Robin," pointed out that "It s Ladder Day, and I m a Saint," a legitimate groaner if you aren t of the Mormon persuasion.

Battleship, oops, "Battling Ships," is really cool. You lob missiles at your opponent, and vice versa, and if your missile makes a hit, there s a most gratifying explosion  and the sound effects are excellent. Conversely, when you take a hit, your ship starts burning most distressingly.

If you or your opponent misses, there s an impressive splash as the missiles drop harmlessly into the drink.

When your ship is sunk it s enveloped in a huge explosion that ultimately clears to reveal a calm sea where once was the pride of your naval fleet.


Perhaps because of the violence potential (after games like Quake and Duke Nukem, you become somewhat used to mayhem), Battling Ships was my favourite from this collection.

The "bonus pack" of card games Sierra includes gives you playable demos of Hearts or Pyramid, neither of which got me too excited. You can also take a quick look at Poker, Crazy Eights, Gin Rummy, Bridge, Klondike, Cribbage, War, Old Maid, Spades and Euchre, though you can t play them.

I d rather have seen Poker and Euchre as the playable demos, but they didn t ask me.

Judging from the demos, Hoyle s Classic Card Games should be as much fun as the Classic Board Games, so it s probably a safe purchase to make if you re into such diversions.


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January 31, 2006