3-D Tic-Tac-Toe

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3-D Tic-Tac-Toe

3-D Tic-Tac-Toe - 2600 - USA.jpg

Atari 2600 - USA - 1st edition.

Developer Atari
Publisher Atari
Published 1979-??-??
Platforms Atari 8-bit, Atari 2600
Genres Single-screen, Strategy
Multiplayer Alternating versus
Distribution Commercial

3-D Tic-Tac-Toe is a strategy video game developed by Carol Shaw at Atari and published by Atari for the Atari 8-bit home computer line in 1979. It was ported to the Atari 2600 in 1980.

The game plays standard 4x4x4 tic-tac-toe either with 2 human players or 1 human player against an AI opponent. You can customize whether X or O starts and there are eight levels of AI difficulty. The Atari 8-bit version also includes the variant, "bottom-up."


Won?Yes, at skill level 1.

Although the concept is laughable, I still tried this game out because it's one of the few Atari 2600 game that has a planned ending. I played it a handful of times at skill level 1 with the AI going first and eventually beat it. I have little interest in trying to beat it at higher difficulty levels.


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2 3 1 1 4

Best Version: Atari 8-bit

— This section contains spoilers! —


  • Although 4x4x4 tic-tac-toe was solved before the game was released, Carol Shaw still integrated some pseudo-randomness into it so the game wouldn't be truly impossible.
  • The Atari 8-bit version had some nice features that were scrapped in the more popular Atari 2600 version. These include the "bottom-up" variant, the ability to have the AI make your move for you, and predicting victory.


  • Even at its lowest AI setting, the CPU is still pretty good and will defeat anyone who isn't already skilled at the game. This means the game isn't very approachable for younger children. And, with 9-move look ahead, it's practically unbeatable by a human who hasn't memorized the winning strategy.
  • In order to devote as much time to process as possible, the 2600 port doesn't display graphics while it's calculating its next move. Instead, you get to stare at a blank screen the entire time. For the lower level AI, this is just an annoying flash, but for the stronger AI, it's a really dull wait.
  • The cursor movement is pretty sluggish on the 2600 port.


  • The game is just a very bare-bones version of 4x4x4 tic-tac-toe. It's something you could very easily and quickly do with a pen and paper without shelling out $50. The only thing it has going for it is its impressive (at the time) AI, but that novelty doesn't last long (or, lasts far too long considering how slow the CPU is).
  • Because the platforms it runs on have such a weak CPUs and limited memory, the AI takes a very long time to calculate its next move. A single response can take a long as 20 minutes! This means a single game of tic-tac-toe could take hours to play!
  • Both ports are severely lacking in graphics and sound. The wireframe graphics are extremely limited, the beeping sound is annoying, and the 2600 version doesn't even bother to use different colors for the Xs and Os.


Box Art



Gameplay - Atari 8-bit.
Gameplay - Atari 2600.

Play Online

Atari 2600


Strong female character?FailThere are no characters.
Bechdel test?FailThere are no characters.
Strong person of color character?FailThere are no characters.
Queer character?FailThere are no characters.


Role Staff
Atari 8-bit Game Carol Shaw
Atari 2600 Port Carol Shaw
2600 Cover Art Susan Jaekel


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