(Inspired while in a gaming explosion here at the start of Ludum Dare.)
(The winner was Mortal Kombat , versions MK2 and MK3.)
But right up there, is an obscure game of a style rarely repeated since - a strategy game with some really unusual features.
It's like "upside down" Reversi/Othello, which is more common because it was sold in toy stores. In that game you flank opponent's armies and they flip over to your color in straight lines radiating from your placed piece.
Ataxx runs the other way, with short space moves of 1 or two squares, and then where your piece lands affects directly adjacent enemy guys.
Here's a half decent intro to it, though I have slightly different phrasings if I were to introduce it myself in a video. https://www.youtube..../watch?v=54nX9a7fdv8
Some lists and factoids:
A stunning innovation is the difficulty is "rated", using a variant of professional chess tournament player ratings. It's one of the only games I've seen that does that, and scary enough, my abilities at Ataxx are very roughly correlated with my chess ratings!
From weakest to strongest, the five AI opponents and some basic play style notes:
Colony - just generic quasi sane moves, but not really well played at all
DroolMan - first "solid" player, but is pretty easy to box into a corner
MushMan - the most "active and dynamic" player, and one of the hardest to "grok" what's going on because he jumps all over the place. But the way I beat him is to try to hold it all together, then watch for some spots where you get a few big consolidations and then try to close out the game without being forced to give up a 6 man spread way at the very end.
Not bad progress for having to burn chunks of quarters per game. A decade later I got the Mame copy, but didn't go on any big crusades to get better, so I stayed at the same basic skill level.
Gorgon - Both the next two players are "solid" - they make small moves, but don't leave a lot of room for big swings either. I haven't beaten Gorgon many times - maybe only a couple and I don't recall details, but it was just probably trying to do something with very accurate placement of my army.
CephaloMan- the top AI engine, also "solid", and hard for me to distinguish stylistically from Gorgon, except it probably just thinks a couple of ply deeper. I haven't ever beaten this one.