Review: Big Bang Board Games


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Jul 5, 2008
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NOTE: This has recently dropped in price from $4.99 to $.99! I don't know if the price is going back up anytime, but if you are remotely interested, I would suggest buying it now!

I am a board game sucker - specifically Backgammon. For some reason, I really like that game. So when I saw this board game collection that included Backgammon, I had to give it a try.

In this game, your primary opponent is "Moon". You are "Sun" (although sometimes it seems you can play against Sun). You goal is to defeat Moon in the various board games that are included - chess, checkers, mancala, 4 in a row, backgammon, tic tac toe, and reversi.

First, the graphics, which is one of the strongest points for this game. Very nice. All of the games have a very nice visual quality to them, which can enhance the gameplay. There are some subtle background animations as well as animations in the opponent which add to the game play as well. At times some of the graphic choice are a little odd (the mancala pieces are "floating" above the mancala board, for example) but it is an interesting effect. And in some cases (like the 4 in a row board) in an attempt to be unusual and unique, the board is very confusing.

Within each game you can choose one to play, or choose "hot seat". You know, despite playing this many many times, I could never figure out what "hot seat" was. And that brings us to my first of two complaints about this game - no isntruction or "help" options. Now I admit, most people will know how to play these games. But there aren't any options for "rules" or to tell you what the various settings are. For the most part this isn't needed, but it would help. (For the record, I did notice that when you choose hotseat in some games, you get a different opponent).

When playing, you can modify a number of options which are the same for each game. You can change who goes first, change the piece style (traditional or not), change the degree of animation in the pieces, modfy volume, and increase the strength (presumably the AI) of your opponent. Lastly, you can change the tap to move option (changing it from tapping a piece to select it to dragging).

One nice feature when playing these games (at least the ones where movement is important) is that your move options are highlighted. So in backgammon (for example) when you choose a piece, the number of places you can move to are indication.

Onto my second complaint - gameplay. Maybe I have particularly big fingers, but I found moving the pieces to be difficult. Even the "tap to choose" option didn't make things easier - it was difficult to tap the correct piece when moving it. Also, some of the rules don't seem to be incorporated. I noticed in the backgammon game there was no doubling cube!

You can play the games in landscape mode which makes them a little easier, but it still seemed a little difficult to me.

The AI on the game seeemd...well...random. Playing a simple game like tic tac toe, you would expect to basically end in a tie most of the time. However, the AI (in normal mode) would often let me win - not even blocking when I had three pieces in a row! In "strong" mode, the AI was better. Unfrotunately, I am not good enough at any of the other games to judge the AI, but based on the tic tac toe game, I would never play in "normal" AI mode.

Most of the games were okay. Games like mancala, tic tac toe, reversi, and 4 in a row (where specific movement is not as important) all played fine, with little to no difficulty. It was only the games where you had to chose and move a specific piece (chess, checkers, backgammon) did I find any trouble.

Pros: A nice collection of traditional board games, graphic interface is very nice
Cons: Some movement can be difficult, no help or rules, some rules of the games are not present

All in all, for $.99, this is a nicely priced application. If you can live with some difficulty in moving pieces, or you primarilly don't play chess, checkers, or backgammon, it might be worth your while to pick up this game. If you really only want to play one of those three game though, there might be a better option out there. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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