Ishido: The Way of Stones
Ishido: The Way of Stones is a puzzle video game released in 1990 by Accolade and developed by Publishing International. It was designed by Michael Feinberg and programmed by Ian Gilman and Michael Sandige. Producer was Brad Fregger, and Brodie Lockard (the designer of the Shanghai computer game) contributed with graphics.
Ishido is a puzzle board game consisting of a set of 72 stones and a game board of 96 squares.
Every stone has two attributes: a color and a symbol. There are six colors and six symbols in each stone set, thus creating 36 unique stones. Since each stone comes in a pair, there are therefore 72 stones in each stone set.
The primary objective of Ishido is to place all 72 stones onto the board of 96 squares. The challenge arises because stones must be placed adjacent to others that they match, either by color or symbol. When the board begins to fill up, this objective is not so easily accomplished.
A valuable move is the 4-way, in which a stone is placed in the midst of four others, two of which are matched by color, and two which are matched by symbol.
Ishido comes with 6 differently themed stone sets, 5 different game boards, and a variety of Oriental chimes and sound effects.
Ports and adaptations
Ishido was originally released for the Macintosh in 1990, with ports to MS-DOS, Amiga, Game Boy and Sega Genesis in the same year. The Atari Lynx and Famicom Disk System versions were published in 1991. The Microsoft Entertainment Pack contained an adaptation of Ishido called Stones.
An actual physical board game version of Ishido was published in Japan by ASCII in 1992.
The New York Times wrote that Ishido "is one of those deceptively simple games, like Go, that gradually reveal their subtleties ... most engrossing".Computer Gaming World called the game "a remarkably complex entertainment resource, with some pleasant surprises". The magazine liked Ishido's VGA graphics, and concluded that it would please both novice and experienced strategy game players. The Atari Lynx version of the game was reviewed in 1992 in Dragon #181 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars.
Oracle and legend
Integrated into Ishido is an oracle, a way to ask questions of the ancient Chinese Book of Changes, the I Ching.
First the user poses a question. Then they meditate upon it while playing the game. When they attain a '4-way' match, Ishido, utilizing the same algorithm as the authentic yarrow stalk method of consulting the oracle, obtains an answer.
An original translation of the I Ching, which used the Wilhelm/Baynes and Anthony translations as primary sources, was written for the game by Michael Feinberg.
The original Ishido game was published by Publishing International in a limited edition in a hand-made walnut slip box. Then the following year, 1990, Accolade published the first mass-market version.
Ishido came with a 20-page booklet, "The Legend of Ishido". It began:
One misty spring morning in 1989, in the remote mountains of China's Han Shan province, a Mendicant monk of the Northern School of the White Crane branch of Taoism, walked silently out through the front gates of the Heavenly Peak Temple
The monk carried a stone board, a set of seventy-two carved stone pieces, and an ancient scroll inscribed with brush and ink in elegant calligraphic script.
He also carried with him a secret which had lain cloistered and hidden for thousands of years.
The story was fictional and written by Michael Feinberg. Nevertheless, many believed that Ishido actually was an ancient game, recently re-discovered.
The boxed 1990 PC installation version of Ishido arrived in a typical 9"h X 7"w X 1.5"d heavy card container. While the cover art was markedly different among some of the various platforms, on the inside these versions were similar or identical to the following details in most respects.
Inside, the game was sent with both 4 Double Density (360kb) 5.25" floppies and 2 Double Density (720kb) 3.5" floppies. On back of the manual are open permissions to backup these disks and how to replace a damaged or lost copy protection device (the "Code Wheel" noted below). Typical of the "goodies" included in the best early computer games, Ishido comes with 2 very good quality game booklets. The smaller one contains the 2 color, 27 page "historical reference" which (as already noted) was so well written as to make some believe the game was an ancient rediscovery. The larger booklet is the nicely illustrated 46 page Ishido game manual. Also included were a "code wheel", mail-in registration card, proof of purchase card, Accolade product and accessories catalog and a Prodigy internet service brochure (requiring a minimum 1200 kbit/s modem at that time).
As copy protection (at least for the PC version) Ishido uses a "Code Wheel", which is used to resolve 3 challenges that must be answered/assembled correctly to begin game play. Ishido can't be played without it.
The 1990 PC version has an uncopyrighted "OOOPS!" addenda card/sheet to the larger booklet (marked "ACO-3584A" in the lower left corner). As a service to those missing this item, here is the slightly charming and personal geeky text common to the early era of gaming:
"We forgot to point out just exactly where those five 4-Ways are located on the Master Game below (page 18 in your manual). Geez, all our other manuals are perfect. Must have been lost in our Zen dancing that day.
[Wiki contributor note: the included diagram shown at this location reproducing the page 18 Master Game diagram has eight numbered "Ishido" (4-way) locations (the addenda sheet appears to have errors). The numbered X-Y locations (where X = horizontal and Y = vertical, 0 = lower left corner) shown are (1) 7-5, (2) 6-4, (3) 2-2, (4) 11-2, (5) 11-7, (6) 5-6, (7) 2-7, (8) 8-3. Only the Ancients know why these locations were not more logically ordered.]
"Please accept this Ooops Card in the proper meditative spirit of harmony, non-violence, and forgiveness of impatient Western culture, on which we choose to blame our foolish editorial errors (and anything else, thus allowing us to escape personal responsibility most of the time).
"Please note: There is no Ancient Way Scoring in the Challenge Mode. On page 9 the bottom paragraph should read: If several players empty the pouch..."
- Shannon, L. R. (1990-09-18). "Scattered Stones, Enigmas And Fun". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
- Ackelson, Caitlin; Emrich, Alan (January 1991). "Only the Oracle Knows ... / A Review of Accolade's Ishido". Computer Gaming World. p. 19. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (May 1992). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (181): 57–62.
- Scott, Jason; textfiles.com, "Ishido: The Way of Stones" (retrieved on 2007-09-16)