Archive for the ‘Board/Card’ Category

Words With Friends

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Words With Friends

This simple Scrabble clone has caught on in a big way, thanks to the ability to play versus real-life opponents, turn-by-turn. The player can create a game either by choosing a friend from facebook, from twitter, from their contact list, or they can be matchmade against a random player. After playing the first word, a notification is sent to the opponent, they receive a PUSH notification, and a badge appears on the game icon. There is no time limit for playing your turn and you can have several games going at once with other players. The rules are similar to Scrabble, as tiles from a tray are placed on the board to score based on tile worth and special spaces on the board, but there are no challenges; players can simply try a word and if it is not in the dictionary, they recall their tiles and try again. Because of the low time commitment per turn, the game is a perfect candidate to occupy a permanent spot on your iPhone to play at your leisure. Personally, I like it better than Scrabble IRL.

Rating: ★★★★★ icon
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Sword & Poker

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Sword & Poker

Prior to PuzzleQuest, I most likely would have told you that an RPG/Match-3 hybrid would be ridiculous, but it was awesome. Well, Gaia Co. LTD. chose an RPG/Poker hybrid as their first US game release and it too makes for a fun game. Each encounter begins with a 3×3 layout of pre-seeded cards on a 5×5 grid. The player looks at their hand of 4 cards and chooses 2 to put on either end of a 3-card row. This column, row, or diagonal line of cards is then scored as a normal Poker hand (pair,  2 pair, 3 of a kind, etc.) Points scored from the hand damage the opponent, who happens to be a monster. You see, the player enters a dungeon, making simple decision as to which route to take and then encounters a monster to play poker against. Sounds pretty straight forward, right? After exiting the dungeon, the cash earned from winning battles can be spent on equipment and such. This gear will improve the player’s abilities in combat. Abilities matter too, whether it be weapon damage multipliers, a fatter sack *ahem*, or a shield to mitigate damage. Magic spells can be equipped, as well, to perhaps sway the battle in your favor. The card play can be relatively interesting, with all of these variables in play. Denial is an important tactic too, since the hands are in open view, you will oftentimes want to forego your big move to block an even bigger one from the opponent. While the core gameplay is addictive and fun, it can sometimes devolve into when to chuck your cards and pass your turn, because the big combos that score multiple rows are generally seen near the end of the match. I can’t fault the developers, though, because they came up with a pretty original game here that has a ton of replay-value as the player levels up their character. The art, soundtrack, and gameplay evoke a wonderful, if somewhat quirky, theme and everyone that plays it, loves it.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Catan

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

The official iPhone version of Settlers of Catan, the boardgame. It provides an extensive tutorial, multiplayer or AI play (good AI, BTW), eye-catching graphics, great period music, and a bit of personality. On the downside, it plods along at a mind-numbingly slow pace, the trade interface is just a teeny bit confusing, the dice can only be described as “goofy”, and there is very little add-on content. Even without expansion content, though, I do feel it is worth the price. The pacing, however, is rough. After each roll, every resource is given out to every recipient sequentially, instead of simultaneously and the map zooms in and out and pans around forever. While some will appreciate the detailed landscape graphics, I would much prefer simple, obvious symbols. The current graphics don’t scale that well, which probably warrants the auto-zoom, but with iconic graphics, they could have forgone the zoom. The Catan clone Kolonists had simpler graphics, but it was pulled from the app store, due to copyright infringement. I’m a big fan of the boardgame and, in general, they did a good job, but I hate the wait.

Update: One of my buddies told me that you can tap out of the move animations, which improves the game significantly, in my opinion, so my rating has been increased accordingly.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Fritz Chess

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

This is a really full-featured Chess game, with a solid engine and AI. There’s not much else to say about it; it’s Chess. It does have a really nice analysis feature that I haven’t seen in other apps, though. The AI seems better to me than Glaurung Chess, but GC is open-source and free. I still need to compare it to Shredder Chess and HIARCS Chess, before picking a champion, though.

Update: I have now compared this to Shredder Chess and, while Shredder does have puzzles and moves fast, I prefer Fritz Chess, due to the capability of the AI opponent; I feel it is both more realistic and more advanced. Still need a copy of HIARCS, though, as the engine is rated highly.

Rating: ★★★★★ icon
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Word Solitaire

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

As the screenshot shows, this is like playing solitaire, but with letters, instead of numbers. Pretty fun, actually. You oftentimes start a word that you can’t complete, but then reconfigure everything to score a better word anyway. The game can be frustrating when you can’t uncover a stack, but you can often get creative to do so. Just like regular solitaire, you can sift through a stack of extra cards, but you can also burn three cards. No, really, you burn them to a crisp in that ridiculous genie lamp in the corner (a move not condoned by The Official Guide to Solitaire Strategy, I’m afraid). Among the endless stream ofBoggle clones, this is a refreshing diversion.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Evacuation

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Evacuation

It’s pretty fun, actually. The goal is to jettison all the baddies, without making too many of your space dewds suck vacuum. Tapping a door toggles the state of all similarly colored doors. When an exterior door is open, baddies and crewmen alike are sucked into space along the entire path of open cabins. The player can place a flag in adjacent room to make crewmen move there, so the gameplay consists of getting crewmen to safety and then opening doors in the proper sequence to boost the baddies to oblivion. The ship reconfigures for each new level. The soundtrack is appropriately lighthearted and the sound for the airlock is great. The graphics are WYSIWYG, as shown in the screenshots. It’s a fun puzzle game that makes you think like you would in a board game.

Kolonists

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Kolonists

Hmm, looks familiar…oh, I know, it’s Settlers of Catan. I have no business reviewing it, as I haven’t played it enough to know how successful the developers were. I wanted to give you guys a heads up fast, though, because sometimes clones like this get pulled. In fact, just recently someone lifted the free code for Flow, from the deisgner’s website, and then released a near-exact copy for 2 bucks. I digress. So far, I love the game, though. Be forewarned, it does differ from the Catan you know, in several ways; no dice, for one, but I actually really like the changes.

Update: Kolonists was pulled from the App Store when Catan was released. No real reason to go back and update the review. *sadface*
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

10 Pin Shuffle (Bowling)

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

10 Pin Shuffle

This is really good game that includes a combination of bowling, shuffleboard, and…cards? Personally the Poker variant in which you in cards by bowling well doesn’t do much for me, but the basic game is great. I actually like it more than most of the “real” bowling games on the iPhone. The physics model is excellent, the graphics are good, and the gameplay itself is really fun. Players can play Peer-to-Peer, using wifi or Bluetooth.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Archon

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Archon

As a fan of the original Archon, by Electronic Arts, I was first delighted and then dismayed about this release. The original is a classic combination of strategy and tactics, which had the player battling Good versus Evil on a Chess-like board with a variety of pieces, each with their own special abilities. I think this title could have been resurrected, if it weren’t for several bad design choices and the overall sluggishness of combat. D-Pad or Accelerometer movement on the battle board…really? It just feels clunky and the projectiles are abysmally slow. No multiplayer?!? I’m done.

Music iQ

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Music iQ

The idea here is to use your own music as a trivia game. It mines your music library for songs, then pops up multiple choice questions for you to choose the song name, as it plays. I watched one of my co-workers get every single question right, which made us think the flaw is that “of course, you’re going to know your own songs”. The presentation is slick, though, and it is fun for a while.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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