#iplayed Ishido – Way of Stones (1991) for the Atari Lynx (also other systems)

the origins of this game are unclear to me, as is its potential orientalisms or even appropriations. keywords escape my ability to locate the origins of these ideas. regardless, i am thoroughly charmed by this game. it is easy enough to capture my heart by putting a dpad-operated cursor onto a lofi display, but this board-game like thing has so much going for it in its own right.

the rules are simple: there is a grid of space and a deck of tiles. each tile has a color and a symbol. you place tiles next to other tiles, (beginning with a starting tile of each color) and in order to place them they must have either a shape or a color in common. if there are two neighboring tiles, one must match shape and the other must match color. your goal is to place every tile from your deck without running out of space.

what strikes me about its existence on the lynx (outside of its incredibly charming lo-fi display) is the way it wields space and color with such tidiness that i imagine the game were perfectly married to the console could i hold it in my hands. the screen is dominantly occupied by the board with just enough space for the necessary auxiliary information. it is suitably unstimulating for such a tranquil, contemplative game. color is wielded utilitarianly, rejecting soft harmonies for distinctive tones and hues in a way that has progressively gone out of fashion. this enthusiastic use of color feels in tune with how the lynx sought to stand out for its high-power color display–using it for such a humble game feels even more perfect.

when travelling, i want something to occupy my mind, but not something so stressful as an action game (travelling is already stressful enough). just trying this i can feel myself getting lost in this game for hours on bus rides or during lengthy trips.


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