The Game: Up to four players control markers that leave a solid “wall” in their wake. The object of the game is to trap the other players by building a wall around them that they can’t avoid crashing into – or forcing them to crash into their own walls. Run into a wall, either your own or someone else’s, ends your turn and erases your trail from the screen (potentially eliminating an obstacle for the remaining players). The player still standing at the end of the round wins. (Midway, 1977)
Memories: Any classic gamer worth his weight in pixels will recognize Checkmate as one of the inspirations for the Light Cycle sequence in both the movie and the game adaptation of Tron – but that doesn’t mean that Tron had to be behind the wheel for this concept to be a lot of fun.
Checkmate is essentially a slightly more polished clone of Barricade, right down to the four-player feature, though it throws in a few tricks of its own, including the ability to play a single-player game. Interestingly, Checkmate recorded the players’ moves and then replayed the entire game, instant replay style, as its attract mode until someone else played. Why this didn’t become a more common practice, I have no idea.
Other companies would take their own swipe at the Barricade concept, but Checkmate was one of the better contenders. It added just enough to the original concept – the biggie really being one-player games – that it’s a superior specimen of that genre.