A trio of classic games are ported to the iPhone in ways that take the “bored” out of board games.
Think board games and you’re likely to think of 5 right off: Chess, checkers, Scrabble, Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit.
There are versions of chess and checkers available for the iPhone but we’ll leave those for another day.
Instead, we’ll take a look at the Big 3 and see how they translate from the board to the palm of your hand.
Personally, I think it’s un-American to not have this game on your smartphone. It was the first of these games to come to the iPhone and it has had several updates since, which shows that the developers (all three games come from Electronic Arts) haven’t just come up with a cheap version and abandoned it.
When I lived abroad, I did much more traveling than I do these days and my ex and I always had a portable Scrabble game with magnetic tiles stuffed in one of our backpacks. And we had to upgrade it at least once after losing a tile or two on some sojourn.
This app would have solved that problem nicely.
The Hasbro game has plenty of options, from classic Scrabble to speed rounds to points games. You can play against the computer (three levels of difficulty), against another person, a solo game and even against someone across the country *more on that in a bit.
You also have some play options and can choose between the Merriam-Webster dictionary or one for British rules.
The rack is nicely sized on your screen and you can move tiles manually or use the shuffle button.
Drag a tile to the board and place it where you want. You can take your finger off and redrag it if you moved the spot. When you drag, the window will magnify so you can see better.
At any time in the game, you can also pinch and expand and drag the window so you can see the entire board, or part, at whatever size you desire.
Hit play and the computer tallies the score. And you go from there.
You can also play via wi-fi connection. A recent update lets you connect and play against people on Facebook through the Facebook Scrabble game. This is a pretty nice touch when you want to play against a human and no one else is available.
You have all the options of a regular Scrabble game. The port is nicely done though a few minor quibbles. I’d like an option to change the look of the board and even tiles. The colors are there for improved readability but I’d like the option to change them nevertheless.
I also prefer to play with music from my iPod or nothing at all. The in-game music isn’t bad but kind of the cheesy board game music from games in the 1980s.
But even with those minor complaints, Scrabble is a great port and more than well worth the price. If you like Scrabble, you’ll love this game.
Monopoly here & now, the world edition, $4.99
This landscape-mode game came a little later than Scrabble. Again, the game play has the same type of options so you can play the classic game or a few variations.
Rather than just being a static game, the game is now animated though this serves to enhance playability on the iPhone rather than distract.
You can choose between a jazz and a lounge (or nothing) soundtrack. And you can customize the room and table you’re playing on for a certain ambiance. You also have more options as to what you can play.
A sumo player, for example, instead of an iron.
The game will walk you through the various steps of buying, selling and trading but once you’ve gone around the block once or twice, it comes pretty intuitively even for complex steps such as auctioning a property off or taking one out of mortgage.
To roll, you shake the phone. The icons are animated and move across the board but not in an annoying manner.
Again, you have the options to play against another player, vs computer opponent, a mix of both or via wi-fi.
The port is again flawless but of the three, this is one that I’d leave behind if I had to make a choice. The gameplay is flawless but I prefer playing this game in person where I can hold cards and Monopoly money in hand.
Trivial Pursuit, $4.99
This port came out just last week. As far as ranking, I’d put it squarely in the middle. A little more enjoyable than Monopoly but far behind Scrabble.
It’s also a landscape mode and animates gameplay in a pleasant manner. You also have the same options for game play and wi-fi connections.
It had actually been quite some time since I played Trivial Pursuit. I tried to play a few times with some Aussie mates but it was an Australian version and I kept coming up short as every question seemed to be about footy stars from the 1970s.
The iPhone version seems solid. The questions range in difficulty and seem pretty up-to-date. It would be nice if the devs add more questions from time-to-time but after a week, I’ve not seen one repeat.
Along with the normal questions, you can also get picture questions where you have to identify a landmark or some item. Again, a nice touch so it’s not just text.
You can adjust the timer from 3 seconds to infinite so you can adjust the level of difficulty. And you can skip the AI player’s animations for a faster game against the computer if you wish. You can shake the phone to roll or just touch the dice. Also, a nice improvement over Monopoly.
Bottom line on all three: The games aren’t cheap but they are well-done. Quibbles are minor and gameplay is solid and even satisfying on all three games. If you enjoy Monopoly but dislike Scrabble, you’re likely to relish that game more than I did.
The number of options as far as gameplay and opponents really set these games apart. You can have a quickie game or a full long-term pitched battle.
If you have played any of these games on a computer, you’ll feel right at home right off. If you are used to a box set, the learning curve is not steep and you’ll soon be right into the thick of it.
If you love board games and any of these three (or all three), you should be pretty happy. And you needn’t worry about lost dice or tiles either.
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