I am trying to identify a game from presumably the 80s. It was played with at least two players. Each player could set "balls" or "chips" on a 2 dimensional gameboard.

The balls or chips could be stacked, this stacking had a direct effect on adjacent chips set by the other player.

If e.g. 4 balls were set, the chips north, south, east and west got the player's color, the ultimate goal was to kick all opponents by transforming their stones.

  • This sounds familiar! What machine was it on? – Chenmunka Apr 10 '18 at 11:00
  • Probably Commodore or Atari. I'll try to find out more – Uwe Ziegenhagen Apr 10 '18 at 11:08
  • I recall having played a type-in game from ... I think ... Computer & Video Games some time around 83 or 84 that was similar to this – Jules Apr 10 '18 at 11:44

It sounds like you're describing the game Atoms for the Amiga. It was common on magazine coverdisks and public domain collections in the 90s.

In this image, the explosion represents a fully occupied cell. The four atoms that were present in it will be added to the adjacent cells, turning them green. If any of those cells (such as the ones North and West) become fully occupied as a result, they will in turn explode.

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  • This sounds like the best yet! Welcome to Retrocomputing Stack Exchange. You can read the tour to earn a badge. – wizzwizz4 Apr 10 '18 at 14:05
  • I know it as Exploding atoms on ZX was addictive :) – Spektre Apr 11 '18 at 8:18
  • I was going to say Atoms, though I had it on an ST coverdisk and it didn't look as nice as this! I tried to remake it myself in VB as a kid but never got too far. – Matt Lacey Apr 12 '18 at 0:10

Critical Mass is a type-in game featured in Computer & Video Games issue 15 (January 1983). Originally for the TRS-80, but I ported it to run on a Spectrum and I dare say others did similar things at the time.

The description from the magazine text:

It's a two player game based on a board game called Explosion [...] You are presented with a 6x6 grid and each player in turn introduces one of his counters either onto an empty square or a square occupied by one or more of his own counters. However, each square has a point at which critical mass is reached and fission occurs. Corner squares explode when two counters are on them, side squares explode when containing three counters, central squares go up when four counters occupy their space.
When an explosion occurs the counters on the exploding square are distributed across the board. Any enemy counters on the latter square are captured and become counters belonging to the mover. Should receiving squares attain critical mass further explosions will result. Any player having no counters left at the end of his opponent's move is the loser.

This seems very similar to the answer posted by wizzwizz4, except played on a square grid rather than hexagonal, which seems more like the description in the question.

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  • It's closer to this answer posted by user8419. – wizzwizz4 Apr 10 '18 at 14:32
  • @wizzwizz4 - true... although that answer wasn't there when I started writing. :) – Jules Apr 10 '18 at 15:21

Was this game called Hexplode?

Hexplode was a type-in game for the BBC Micro, I think. I would provide more information, but the Wikipedia article on it was recently deleted and the only reimplementation of it that I know of has also been removed from the internet.

There were many variants of this with different board topologies.


You have a hexagonal board on which you can place dots. When there are enough dots to evenly fill all of the neighbouring tiles, the tile "explodes", clearing the tile, capturing the neighbouring tiles and adding one to their dot counts. This can cause a chain reaction.

Some pictures of one implementation (not the BBC Micro version):

Image source Hexplode v1.1 below

More information

I found a page which includes more information and a sample download: Hexplode v1.1

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Could it have been Hexxagon and/or its sequel? They were DOS games in which two players alternatively place pieces and each piece placed converts all its neighbours.

enter image description here

As per the comment below, this apparently has a rectangular predecessor in Ataxx. Is that an option?

enter image description here

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    ... or its predecessor, Ataxx, which was played on a square grid (but was an arcade game). – Stephen Kitt Apr 10 '18 at 11:05
  • I hadn't heard of Ataxx. So added and marked as community wiki, now being a joint answer. – Tommy Apr 10 '18 at 11:10
  • It's probably not this one. AFAI understand, in Hexxagon colors change as soon as one single one is placed or moved. In the game I am looking for the stacking was quite important since more adjacent fields were converted to the player's color when he placed 2, 3 or 4 on them – Uwe Ziegenhagen Apr 10 '18 at 11:11
  • Tese games were known under a number of different names on different platforms. I have one for the Sinclair QL following the same principle – tofro Apr 10 '18 at 12:25
  • Well it appears to be the wrong answer, so I guess that's moot. Will leave it up regardess so that other people don't make the same incorrect guess. – Tommy Apr 10 '18 at 13:48

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