Mark Webb(wwwebb)United States
PennsylvaniaOne more win...Beat the Sharks!
Current Price: $5.71
Developer/Publisher: Exocet Games
Size: 19554 kb
Multiplayer: Pass and Play
Android Market link:
- It plays Carcassonne accurately.
- The graphics look like Carcassonne.
- Includes River II Expansion.
- App2SD Support.
- Zero Network play options.
- Not on par with iOS version.
Carcassonne is a tile laying game where players place square tiles with the roads, grass, cities, and cloisters of Carcassonne landscape printed on them. Tiles must match on any sides adjacent to tiles already placed, sort of like playing a four sided domino. When the player places the tile, he or she must decide if he wishes to deploy one of his or her meeples, and places that meeple on the one of the features on the tile, in order to score future points for that type of features. Placing a meeple in a city area of a tile, the player would want to complete that city by placing other tiles later that would complete the outline of that city and all the space within. Placing on a road, the goal is to complete a long road with two endpoints, scoring based on the length of the road. The goal of placing on cloister is to completely surround the cloister tile with 8 other tiles. Lastly playing ones meeple on the grassy area is to play a farmer, which the object is to complete as many cities that border the field, as that farmer is not scored until the end of the game.
When a feature is completed the person with the majority of meeples on that feature is the one who is awarded points for it. However. when meeples are placed on a feature such as a road, no one else including that player, may put more meeples on that feature. That does not mean that the person who puts the first meeple on a feature has the automatic majority; instead strategic play of tiles to empty spaces may connect what previously was unconnected causing more than one person’s meeples to be on the same road or in the same city. Once a feature is completed all the meeples are returned to the players and the points are awarded. Ties in number of meeples on a feature share points.
Implementation of this game is rather straightforward. You are presented with your tile and the game shows you only the legal moves for placing that tile, by displaying grey boxes on all possible places. Also, if a spot on the able is not able to be filled with any of the remainig tiles in the game, it fills that in with a “broken” grey box. Selecting a box to place in, you are then given the ability to rotate the tile if other valid orientations of the tile are available. Any non legal orientations are skipped. After placing and orientating your title, a button is clicked to confirm you tile placement. Before you confirm with that button, you have the ability to move your tile to another location, if you discover a better spot. After confirming that tile placement, you then have the option to place you meeples. The game highlights the different features on the tile where a meeple can be placed with a dashed outline of a meeple. Like tile placement, you can move the meeple placement, until you confirm with a button. Once you confirm meeple placement, scoring happens automatically. Then it is the next player’s turn.
The graphics are okay. The tiles and meeples look just like they came out of the box from Hans im Glück. You can pinch and zoom and move around the board, which is almost standard to quality board games on iOS or Android. There is a small area at the top of the screen with an cartoon avatar of you and your opponents showing score and meeples that have not been deployed on the board. This area shifts around if the phone is moved into a landscape orientation. So you can play in whichever orientation is more comfortable to you. It also has a quick reference card showing the remaining tiles not yet played. There don’t seem to be any lag or performance problems in my phone or mentioned by other online reviewers.
The gameplay is ok. It plays up to 5 players, either human or computer AI. It adjudicates the rules properly. The AI doesn't cheat, or any noticeable flaw in the playing of the game. It is Carcasssone plain and simple.
So why am I so hum drum about this app? This is something where I do not know where to place blame. I don’t know if it is Hans im Glück, who is the owner of the property, or Exocet Games the developer. Basically why I am less than flattering is because I have played the iOS Carcassonne. Exocet Games have done other Android board games, such as Catan, and Hey That's my Fish, which are very close to their iOS counterparts in look and features than this is to iOS Carcassonne. It is easy to explain the closeness in Catan and Hey That's my Fish, in that Exocet developed them both and put the same things in for both platforms.
But the iOS app for Carc was not developed by Exocet, instead it was developed by The Coding Monkeys. I know in the business world, there are the issues of if something was a work for hire, or who owns the rights to what, etc... I know it may not be as simple for Exocet to make this app the same as the iOS version. I don’t know what control Hans im Gluck has over the look and feel of the apps. All I know is that as a player of the games, I am disappointed in “their game” of Carcasssonne on Android. The average player shouldn't have to worry about intellectual property and contact law when deciding to buy a game.
It is not simply styling of the app. That, I could live with. The biggest difference, is that the iOS version has many styles of network play. Two types of online play, with friends, and a quick play mode. Also, bluetooth and wifi local play. In addition, there is also a solitaire mode, which is a tile placement puzzle type game.
That is what is making this review very hard for me. Comparing with the iOS version, even if the developers could not make it look the same, they still should have had the iOS as reference. When your competing product has a feature as notable as online play, and a little bonus of a solitaire puzzle, how could you not try to achieve feature parity, or put something in different to make it notable. In the update notes in the Apple App Store, the Code Monkeys mention that they are making some code updates in order to support a soon upcoming Inns and Cathedrals update to their app on iOS. Is this a feature that Exocet will keep up with, or will the divide between the apps become farther apart. That is yet to be determined.
This app feels like it is missing something to me. The "Analog Version" of Carc is one that many, including myself intro to new players to the hobby. For digital board gaming on iOS, I mainly show off Carcassonne and Bang! For Android however, Carc is not that app I pull out to show off the platform with.
Yes, Carcassone can be placed on the SD card.
I bought this app because I like Carcassonne. I would have bought it no matter what, just so that I can play the Carc anytime I want on my phone. And it does play the game, very well. In a vacuum, this would be a pretty good game and worth playing. Keep in mind that you can only play pass and play or play against AI at this time. That is also something that can be added in the future. Unfortunately, this isn’t a vacuum. Not everyone wants to buy an app for more than one platform like I have done. This app is like saying your Mazda is a fast sports car, and then the iOS Ferrari pulls up. Right now, it earns a 3 star from me...If they would do something to add punch or to come closer to parity with the iOS version, it would earn the 4th star.
Rating: 3/4 Good
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Archive for Mark Webb, Android News
- [+] Dice rolls
Current Price: $2.99
Developer/Publisher: NaturalMotionGames Ltd
Size: 128 KB
Multiplayer: Pass and Play, Global Highscore board.
Android Market link:
- Realistic Looking 3D graphics.
- Good Physics Simulation.
- Up to 4 player Pass and Play.
- Achievement System.
- App2SD Support (What’s this?...See later in the article)
- Arcade Mode is not very board game like.
- A digitial version of a dexterity game? I don’t know about this...
Jenga is a dexterity game from Hasbro where you build a tower using rectangular blocks that are arranged three abreast. The next row continues with three more blocks stacked on top of the first three, except turned 90 degrees. Each new row is again rotated, so that when building the tower is finished, you have a tower with alternating rows with the ends of the pieces facing out, and the other rows having the long side of a piece facing out. The game begins having players take turns removing one piece from this tower of blocks, and replacing it in the same fashion as the original tower was built, at the top of the tower as it exists now. Admittedly, I probably don’t have to describe Jenga to you, as it is found in most Wal-Marts, Targets, Toys R Us’s and as spawned several sequels as well as knock offs by other companies.
Play continues with players taking turns removing a piece and placing it atop the tower, until one unfortunate player makes the move that causes the tower to come crashing down, losing the game. Jenga is built on a simple concept which is the basis of many dexterity games, such as Topple, Bottle Topps, Wallamoppi, Bausack, Villa Paletti, and others, being “don’t be the guy that knocks the stucture over” Eventhough it is a simple concept, making the game of Jenga very playable to people of all skillsl, and ages, if played with skilled players, who are taking the game seriously, can be a satisying, stategic, and even a little stressful experience. The benefit of a digital version of game like this is that you don’t have to rebuild the tower in order to play again.
The Android version of Jenga is very beautiful, graphically. The 3D rendering going on in this game makes the tower of blocks look almost like you could touch it, as if it were actual blocks. The game even prints “Jenga” on the side of the wooden blocks, just like the real game. Also, similar to real life, the word “Jenga” appears both upright, and upside down randomly when the tower is presented, because c’mon, in real life, are you going to build the tower with all the pieces having the word face the same direction? Unless your name is Adiran Monk, the answer is probably no. The game also presents the tower on a virtual coffee table in the middle of a virtual living room complete with couches and artwork on the walls.
The bad thing with the Android OS is that the hardware specs of each phone varies. But, this app requires Android 2.1 (Elcair) or higher, which does weed out the phones not capable of doing a good job with the graphics and the physics calculations. Other reviews I have read did not raise any issues on lag or other problems where graphics or playability was concerned. My phone is not a dual core hot rod either. For this and other reviews, my review platform is a HTC Evo 4G, which was released in summer of 2010.
The game play is all played by touch on the screen. Pinch to zoom works in the 3D space, as well as swiping on any area that is not the tower will either rotate the world or move your view up or down according to your swipe. Touching a block on the tower serves two purposes: One is to select the block you wish to manipulate, and the other is that it highlights the block with a visual cue to tell you how safe it is to move that piece. White is “mostly harmless”, pink is somewhere in the middle, and red is “unless you are pretty good at this, the tower is coming down”. If all you do is tap a block and see this color, you can tap again on a different block and it will change the selection. If you move a selected block, you are locked in to that block until you either put the block on top, or the tower falls. If you are moving a block you have two methods. Tapping the selected block will push the block, similar to the real world move of poking a loose block from one side to have it come out the other side. The other move is to press and hold on the selected block and then to drag your finger. This will show a line of arrows showing the force and direction you are taking the piece.
The Jenga app for Android has three play modes. Classic is you versus gravity. You take and place pieces until it falls. Score is recorded as how many rows high were you able to achieve before it crashed, as well as total time taken. Pass and Play is the exact same gameplay as Classic, except that 2-4 players will rotate turns until the game is over. Arcade mode gets a little strange. The pieces are each one of four colors. Placing three in a row of the same color get you bonus points. Doing things quickly earns you points. Good moves may also provide coins, which can be used to buy power ups, such as a wild card block which can be any color, or a redo ability which will undo a fallen tower and let you try again. This mode just seemed strange to me. I understand the color matching thing, but the coins and power ups seemed like a lot of junk with little payoff or benefit. Even if you bought an item, you still had to extract the block with the power up on it to use it. To me it was more satisfying in Classic Mode trying to beat a solid number of a high tower instead of point and coins and such.
The arcade mode was one of two small nits to pick with this game. I can just not play Arcade mode and that is ok. The other sticky point for me is probably a little more confusing to explain. I have read many posts on BGG such as, “If I play a video game version of a physical board game, am I playing that board game?” I am not going to rehash that discussion here, only to say that my own opinion is that I tend toward the more liberal viewpoint of if it is a representation of the game, even online, even against AI, I count it. If I play Catan on Andoid, I feel I’ve played Catan. Except in this game. My skill in playing real life Jenga does not translate in any way to being better in this game. Kind of like how being a expert marksman with a slingshot does not make you better at playing Angry Birds. I even feel that when playing Disc Drivin’, I get a closer experience of playing Pitchcar, than playing Jenga with this app. PLEASE. Do not get me wrong...I really like this app, recommend it even. But it crosses that line for me back to being a video game. Instead of the same tense experience when playing a dexterity game with friends, this is more a minute or two while waiting in line at the DMV type of game. And for being that, it is a really good game.
NaturalMotion has also created an iOS version of Jenga. From what I have seen in screenshots from other reviews, the look and feel and graphics quality as well the same style of play looks to be the same in the iOS version, although I do not have personal experience to contribute here, I am just letting iOS users know it is available if it is of interest to them.
A Quick Intro to App2SD support:
As I mentioned before, specs vary from phone to phone with Android. As a result, the various companies decide what features are in their phone or other device. There are differing amounts of main storage space, and wether or not an SD card is present or how large it can be. Because of all of these differences, apps actually have to be specifically programmed have the app itself be stored on an SD card. If these abilities are not programmed by the developer, the app has to remain in the main storage. Depending on the device and what other apps installed, this space can be very tight. I have changed RSS readers, email clients, podcast programs, music players to ones that supported the SD card because I had to. I have also deleted several games to free room in my main storage, again, out of necessity. So in my reviews, I will always mention App2SD support,the ability to put a program on the SD card,as it is definitely a feature in my eyes or a great liabilty if not present.
For this review, Jenga is good... It supports being put on the SD card, and is a small size to boot.
This app is a quality piece of work. Runs great, looks great and is lots fun to play. As I mentioned before, it does miss a bit for recreating the actual tense feel of Jenga, but instead becomes a more recreational video game.
- [+] Dice rolls
Android Tip - Third Party App Stores
Some folks just use their smart phones. Not everyone geeks out over every technical detail -- browsing websites or listening to podcasts for the latest tidbit. So from time to time, I am going to throw in an Android tip that while not necessarily board game specific, will be useful for someone looking to play board games on their Android phones. To some this may be not new information, but it will be good to pass this info along.
On iOS, there is one place to install applications for your iDevice without jailbreaking it, and that is Apple's App Store. Likewise, when you get your Android phone or tablet home, Google's Android Market is ready for you to use to download your apps. But unlike iOS, on Android the official store is not your only option. There are other ways of putting apps on your device - legal and legitimate ways.
No voiding your warranty
No need for rooting
No use of an exploit to do it.
Android actually allows you to install apps by downloading from websites, opening email attachments, and by placing the application by placing it on the device or SD card when you attach the device to your computer, also called sideloading.
Android was designed to be open to allow that access. However, as we have seen on other platforms, such as Microsoft Windows, this can be a bit dangerous if you don't know where the application comes from. Is that email attachment a virus or just something from my friend? So Google put protections on that openness and by default, doesn't permit 3rd party installs. Those who are knowledgable can choose to turn that protection off with a simple flick of a checkbox, no hacking required.
Here is how...
Go into you device settings. Click Applications. There is a checkbox that says "Unknown Sources - Allow installation of non-market applications." Make sure this box is checked. That's it. Now that the protection is off, now let's see where we can get apps.
Amazon App Store
Amazon is trying to become a large player with Android. Amazon has an MP3 music store and Kindle book store and reader that come preinstalled on many phones. There is even rumor that Amazon will be releasing their own Android tablets later this year. They opened the Amazon App Store as an alternative to the Android Market. It has a good portion of the apps that the Google Market does. The difference being that Amazon controls the pricing and deals with developers. So, if you are interested in saving a few cents, you may want to comparison shop between the Google's and Amazon's stores to find the best price. To drive traffic to their store over the Android Market, they have two bigger draws. First, Amazon offers one paid app per day for free. They pay the developer the cost, and anyone lucky enough to download it that day gets the app gratis. Second, they offer some apps as exclusives, ones that are only available in the Amazon store, such as Angry Birds Rio, which premiered in the Amazon App Store for a couple weeks before joining the Android Market.
After Google and Amazon, the remaining competition has only small niche areas to cover. Most aren't remarkable, except when they catch some exclusive app deals.
GetJar.com is another site who also has scored the occasional exclusive app. They recently offered Cut the Rope, a popular iOS game, ad supported and free a week before it entered the Android Market as a paid app. It is still the only place to get it ad supported. GetJar started as a site for other phone OS apps such as Java phones, Pocket PC, Blackberry, and Palm OS. The most notable feature of GetJar is that all of its apps are free.
Handmark.com does not have a lot to offer in number of apps. They too have existed previously for other platforms prior to Android. Some of their apps have been exclusives that they had deals with for a long time due to their being on previous platforms. Most notable are the availability of the EA/Hasbro board game offerings, such as Monopoly, Game of Life, and Scrabble. However, even though these games are available, they seem to be older apps, that were specified which platforms they can run on.
For example, only Game of Life works on my HTC Evo, which shows the other games available on older Android platforms, but disappear when I specify the Evo, which is necessary to download the app. It does look like there is an effort to revamp some of the Hasbro apps, since a new version of Scrabble has hit the Android Market this week (more info on that in another post). So the need to check out Handmark may be starting to go away.
Handango.com yet another app store. This store also a remnant from the Pocket PC and Palm OS days, For them, I think their website is organized well, but not really anything that you can't get on any other of the stores.
AppBrain.com is not really an app store, It uses the Android Market for its apps, however, AppBrain does need the 3rd party access because of what it does. AppBrain is a combination of website and app that allows a person to tell the world what apps are on his or her phone.
You then can browse people who do this, or even follow users you may know. So when you access AppBrain, it will allow you to see a list of apps someone has, find a good one, and click, you buy/install it. This is great for discovery of apps. I am wwwebb on App Brain, and I will be shortly creating a user to follow which will have the board game apps we mention on this blog.
So that is a quick rundown of some of Android's 3rd party app stores. After you enable the ability to install non-market apps, you can install from any website offering an Android app. Some developers even give beta apps out via a website link to install this way. Or you can even install something developed by someone you know who gives you the file. That one setting makes that all possible.
- [+] Dice rolls
Android News Bits: Catan Releases, Catan for Tablet Being Developed, Carcassonne, Neuroshima Hex Coming soon, Wordsmith Weirdness, Hardwood Backgammon for Tegra 2 Coming Soon
05 Jul 2011
• Catan Releases
• Catan for Tablets and Apps we are still waiting for..
• Wordsmith Removed from Android Market - Then Back
• Hardwood Backgammon for Tegra Coming Soon
• Catan Released - July 1
Catan.com's website posts promised Catan would be released "sometime in June". Only hours after June 2011 passes into history, Catan is now available in the Android Market for $4.33
Catan features the original Settlers of Catan gameplay with the Seafarers expansion as in app purchasable content.
According to the App CatalogQuote:Features:
- Available languages: English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese
- Initial version optimized for standard and high resolution smartphones
- Original "Settlers of Catan" rule set
- Hot seat multiplayer mode
- Smart computer opponents with individual strategies
- Scrollable game board including zoom option
- Freely combinable game settings
- Situation-related music and sound effects
- Game statistics
- Comprehensive tutorial
- The new scenario "The 4 Islands" and two additional game variants
- Info ticker line: Keep track of your fellow players’ actions while still keeping an eye on the game board
- 3 different graphic sets to choose from: Play with the classic set or select the original graphics from the US or German board game editions
Play mode offer player vs AI or hotseat multiplayer, but no network multiplayer, which has dinged the reviews in the app catalog a bit.
Catan $4.33 in Android Market
• Catan for Tablets Announced, Sort Of... - July 1
With the appearance of Catan in the Android Market, some reviews in the market have mentioned that a tablet-based experience of this game is not ideal. That being said, the app description at the very bottom mentions:Quote:We are already working on a tablet version.We will keep our eyes out for this one. This is added to our coming soon list, which includes Carcassonne, that was also expected in June, according to an article on Joystik, and Neuroshima Hex, which has been announced with a generic "this summer".
• Wordsmith removed from Android Market and then back - June 20 & July 1
Scrabble clone Wordsmith was removed from the Android Market due to a DMCA takedown sent to Google by Hasbro. The developer, Second Breakfast Studios, in response has changed its website to point to the game's availability in the Amazon App Store. What is confusing is that several other Scrabble-like games such as Words with Friends, and Word Feud were not removed.
Then out of the blue a week or so later, all of a sudden it is back in the Android Market. No explanation, and all of the website links back to the Android Market instead of Amazon.
Wordsmith Pro $2.49 in Android Market
• Hardwood Backgammon for Tegra processor devices coming soon - May 31
Normally, I wouldn't mentioned releases for some classic games. There are about a dozen each of Chess, Tic Tac Toe, Farkle, and Connect-4 games available for Android. Likewise normally we wouldn't report on a backgammon game, but this one is notable as it is being developed for Android devices containing the dual core NVidia Tegra 2 processor, which included several phones and tablets entering the consumer electronics stores this summer and fall. Hardwood Backgammon, by Silver Creek Entertainment, will feature 3D graphics powered by the Tegra chip. Silver Creek has already made Hardwood Spades and Hardwood Solitare for that chip. This game is yet another with a June deadline that has passed, so we wait and see on this one also.
- [+] Dice rolls
Android News Bits: Catan Coming Soon, Carcassone Screenshots, Jenga Released, Words with Friends update, Hardware Releases
14 Jun 2011
• Catan for Android Coming in June?
• Carcassone Screenshots
• Jenga Released
• Words with Friends Update 3.51 June 13
• Hardware News
• Catan for Android Coming June ???
Catan.com reports on June 9th that the Android version of Catan is to be released "in June". Catan for Android is being developed by Exozet Games and distributed by USM, who both were involved with the iOS version of Catan. The Seafarers Expansion will be offered as in-app purchasable content, or as a higher priced bundle, depending on which app store it is purchased from, since Android permits 3rd party app stores. Features include up to 4 player hotseat multiplayer and updated graphics and user interface from the iOS version.
The Cities and Knights expansion and online multiplayer is currently under development.
• More from Exozet Games - Carcassone screenshots
Back in March, Exozet Games announced that it was taking applications for people to beta test the Android version of their Carcassone app. On May 30th, they posted 7 screenshots giving their followers on Twitter a sneak peek.
• Jenga Released May 20
On May 20th, Natural Motion Games released Jenga to the Android App Store. Jenga offers players three play modes: Classic mode which is a solo challenge recreating the block stacking tenseness of the physical game. Pass and Play offers hot seat multiplayer for up to 4 players. Arcade mode allows the player to earn coins for tricky moves, and bonus points for putting the same colors together at the top of the stack. Arcade mode has various power-ups to spend the earned coins on to change block colors, add more time, or other boosts to modify the game.
Jenga $2.99 in App Market
• Words with Friends update to version 3.51 June 13
The Android version of Words with Friends continues to be behind the iOS version when it comes to features and fixes. This update, however, continues to squash bugs and adding a shuffle tiles button, improves memory consumption, and improves the updates to the list of game statuses. Also mentioned is the developer's appreciation for those who give feedback of problems and mention of an upcoming version supporting Honeycomb tablets.
Words with Friends Free in App Market
• Hardware News
There are many manufacturers, carriers and models of Android phones and tablets. Too many to detail every release here, and that would probably be better served by dedicated Android news sites. However, just as when the iPad was released, it caused discussion on the 'Geek of how that form factor would influence or be used in board gaming, we will highlight hardware that has possible uses for our users here.
That being said, since the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, several companies are trying to bring out their tablet offerings. Here is a quick rundown of some highlights:
Samsung is offering 3 sizes, one that is 10.1 inches similar in size to the iPad.
Coming soon is Toshiba's 10.1 inch tablet
HTC is offering a smaller 7 inch tablet
WIFI only http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Computers-Promotions/HTC-Flyer/p...
Viewsonic announced a smaller tablet that hits a price point below $300. While not as powerful as the other tablets, and running an older version of Android, it may be interesting to see what happens if these are more affordable. http://www.viewsonic.com/company/news/vs_press_release_48934...
- [+] Dice rolls