Synopsis of Toy
“Pretty sneaky, Sis!”
Among TV commercial laments, that was certainly one of the most memorable. All of us have either been acquainted with the commercial or familiar with the game—it's no fun to lose at any game, but there was something especially frustrating about a Connect Four trouncing, probably because the game looked so conquerable. This literally-named, brightly-colored, low-tech, high-fun game was for two players only—and if you were the type who used commercials as paradigms for living your life (And why not? Everyone’s happy in commercials!), then a brother playing against his sister was the optimum player pairing.
A bit like a helter-skelter checkers board, Connect Four was played on an upright-standing grid. Once a player dropped his red or black checker piece down into that grid, it stayed there for the long haul. In checkers, at least you could clean up a lot of your bad moves.
Connect Four was also a bit like tic-tac-toe, only you needed to get four of “your guys” (as they were called in sophisticated game circles) in a row, instead of three. To play, you and your opponent took turns dropping the pieces down one of several slots at the top of the grid, and as the pieces stacked on top of one another, the first player to get four in a row in any direction (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal) won the match.
Would you like a little free Connect Four wisdom? A short and brisk Connect Four pep talk? Yes? Well, then, here goes. Stack thoughtfully. The grid is your friend, not your enemy. Try not to lose the playing pieces, because the ones from your checkers board don't fit into the grid's slots. Block your opponent when you have to, but try not to get suckered into a completely defensive style of play. Attack as much as you can, but don’t get caught up in your aggression and fall for the old Connect Four “you’re dead two ways” trick (that's more fancy lingo for you), which is when, upon patting yourself on the back for blocking one of your opponent’s rows, you realize that due to some kind of mysterious optical illusion you were completely blind to a whole other row that had been forming and now, you’ve lost the match. Live in constant fear of your opponents’ checker pieces making that “click” when they settle into position, or go ahead and seek that nifty little plastic thud out. But the best of luck to all you Connectors, and if you do happen to lose, be sure to groan “Pretty sneaky, (insert name or nickname of winner here)"...because hey, it’s what they did in the commercials.
Milton Bradley presented an electronic hand-held Connect Four a few years after the classic game’s 1974 release, which offered two different games, three different skill levels, sound effects, and automatic scoring and shut off. Of course, if you lost a match with this, there wasn't any need for the "Pretty sneaky, sis" defeatist cry. You just popped the batteries out, and then hid them until you felt confident enough for a rematch.