Developer: Gameloft
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

IMG_0735Blokus is a real-life, award-winning board game, but don’t feel bad if you’ve never had a chance to play before. Gameloft’s new iPhone port of the game is great, sans a few problems, and the game itself is a ton of fun to play.

If you’ve never played before, a quick introduction to the rules is in order. Blokus is a colorful affair featuring Tetris-like pieces in which your goal is to cover as much of the board as possible. Each player has the same 21 pieces at their disposal, ranging in size from a single-celled dot to full-blown pentominoes (five-celled pieces). The trick is that your pieces must touch at the corners, but never at the edges. Players take turns placing their pieces until they are gradually eliminated, either by using all their tiles or by being unable to make a move. The player with the most cells covered wins.

It’s a highly strategic game, but Gameloft gives players many ways to become acclimated. In addition to the standard “Quick Play” option, a tournament mode places you through a series of increasingly difficult challenges, introducing you to all the modes of play. In addition to the basic 4-player game, three variations from the real-life board game are included, which allow for two-player battles and a general mix-up of strategies.

The app itself is a good port of a great strategy game, but it’s not perfect. Some of its features are awesome, like the color blind mode, achievements, and online multiplayer. However, there are plenty of flaws, as well. For example, multiplayer requires a live game; you can’t have an asynchronous match, as in Scrabble, and even Pass-and-Play is absent. The controls—simply dragging and dropping the pieces onto the board—should work flawlessly, but instead I often “lost” a piece while trying to rotate it, or accidentally chose the wrong piece. Rotating is non-intuitive to begin with. And worst of all, there’s no autosave; if you close the app, your game is lost.

These flaws are a disappointing turn to such a great game. Blokus is still a lot of fun on the iPhone, which is a testament to the game’s core appeal. If you love strategy games, you’ll love it. But the drawbacks—sometimes wonky controls, thin multiplayer offerings, and no autosave—can get annoying. It’s a mixed bag. On the whole, I liked Blokus…I just think Gameloft needs to deliver some updates.

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