Developer: On5
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

photo (3)Charadium is an online-only incarnation of Pictionary, and it’s a lot of fun. The community seems to be active and sporting, the games are fun and fast, and the integration with the Plus+ social network allows you to host private games and earn achievements. There’s nothing revolutionary here, and it isn’t quite a perfect fit for the iPhone, but Charadium is a solid, fun word-guessing game all the same.

When you open the app, you have three options: a full game, a quick game, or a game with friends. It’s all pretty much the same regardless; in a quick game, you can jump in at any time rather than wait before acquiring enough players. Once you’re playing, the bottom portion of the screen is host to the standard iPhone keyboard. There’s a text-entry field above that, and then the main play area is above that. If it’s your turn to draw, a green button will pop up with the word; you can either pass your turn or tap to continue. With nine colors, an undo button, and a button for erasing everything, the tools Charadium gives you are usually sufficient. Sometimes it’ll be an easy noun (“face”, “shark”, etc.); other times, it’ll be more difficult (“escape”) and a sequence of pictures might be in order.

Drawing on the iPhone’s small screen is actually pretty easy, but guessing is more difficult. Charadium is played in portrait orientation and without the iPhone’s autocorrect feature. Personally, I’m a relatively fast and accurate typist on the iPhone’s keyboard and it wasn’t a huge problem for me, but time and again people lose out because they were just one letter off. If your typing skills aren’t up to par, you’ll be at a disadvantage.

photoThat complaint aside, though, Charadium games are great. Everything moves fast, and lag times are minimal. The dictionary does seem a bit limited, however; I’ve encountered some repeats already. Note that words are limited to nouns, though not necessarily concrete ones; abstract nouns like “evolution” and “freedom” are also included.

No online game is complete without a solid community. Unfortunately, there’s no way to add fellow doodlers to your friends list besides manually remembering their usernames, and in-game chatting doesn’t happen very often thanks to the fast nature of the games. But the people I played were generally excellent sports. In other online Pictionary games, I’ve seen too many players simply scrawl the word on the screen, taking all the fun out of the game. Experimentally, I tried doing the same in Charadium, only to be met with cries of “lame!” Thank goodness for that! A recent update just added a red button for reporting cheaters, too; tilt your device to enable it.

Charadium is a simple game, and there are many features I’d love to have. You can’t set the length of games, and matches are random; I’d like some sort of skill rank system and the ability to pick my opponents based on skill. Even a way to select word difficulty would be appreciated. Most important of all? The iPhone’s auto-correct needs to be enabled, and a landscape option would also be appreciated. Background music of some sort would also be nice, though of course the option to turn it off would be necessary.

Charadium is a solid Pictionary app, even though it doesn’t have many bells or whistles. If you’re looking for some multiplayer fun, Charadium is an excellent choice.

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