Friday, April 4, 2008


While it hasn't reached the level of clone saturation you find in the casual-games market, it's a bit disheartening that there are so many versions of the same games in the open-source community. GRhino is another Reversi/Othello clone. Sure, it's a classic game with time-tested mechanics, but I do have to wonder why they bothered. Was it just an attempt to develop the programmer's AI skills?

I hope so. Iagno (review here), which is the Othello clone that comes with Ubuntu's default installation, is far superior in virtually every way. Prettier graphics (3D, even, I think) and network play are the two most important areas. Ignoring the graphics, the fact that you can play Iagno against other people makes anything GRhino might have to say for itself a moot point.

GRhino seems to pride itself on having an exceptionally difficult AI opponent. If that's true, then maybe there's a place for it in your collection. After you slaughter all the other, prettier, less facile AI players in all the other versions of Othello, you can turn to this one. I saw no evidence that it was inherently smarter than any of the other AI opponents I faced. The margins of victory and length of games ended up the same as those I encountered with Iagno.*

If you are desperate to play single-player Othello and your computer was made fifteen years ago, it may be that GRhino is your only option; its lack of 3D graphics probably allows it to play just fine on an older machine. Outside of that unlikely scenario, I give out yet another 'why bother?' to this pedestrian attempt at porting a classic board game to the desktop.

*Both AIs beat me a lot: this probably suggests that I suck at the game more than that the AIs are comparable.

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