Developer: TDC LLC
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.8
Device Reviewed On: iPad

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Have you ever tried to play Go? Once upon a time I decided I was going to undertake learning the national board game of Japan, so I bought a Go board and attempted to read the instructions. Then, I put the board, pieces and instructions back in the box, placed the box on a shelf and never dared make the attempt again.

I’m still looking for an app that effectively teaches Go to a complete novice like myself (suggestions welcome if you know of a good one), but until then I’m satisfied to play the infinitely less complex variant of Go known as Go Moku. The object of Go Moku is much simpler than traditional Go. You have to get five of your stones in a row, horizontally, diagonally or vertically while simultaneously stymying your opponent’s attempts to do the same. If you’ve played the westernized version of Go Moku, Pente, you should be familiar with this mechanic (although Go Moku lacks Pente’s rules for capturing an opponent’s pieces). iGoMoku HD Pro (whew! Pretty long title) provides an effective, challenging version of this game with a wide variety of AI opponents.

Don’t expect to be overwhelmed by the game’s graphics or sounds. Both are adequate to the task, but utilitarian in nature. The graphics are straightforward – a simple gridded wooden board and black or white stones. You can vary this somewhat with three other visual themes (including ti-tac-toe, soccer/basketball and water drops) but I prefer to stick with tradition. Sounds are likewise spartan. There is no music, nor the ability to play music from your iTunes library during gameplay. Sound effects are limited to the sound of placing your stones on the board and either a boo or cheer when you lose or win, respectively.

The real beauty of iGoMoku HD Pro lies in its simplicity and its very skilled AI. You can certainly play against a human opponent, but the AI has proven to be quite challenging thus far. There are five levels of AI opponents, ranging from Rookie to Grand Master, so even if you can’t get another person to play against you, you should have no trouble at all finding a suitable challenge.

While there are no flourishes to really make the game stand out in a crowd, iGoMoku HD Pro is highly recommended if you enjoy strategy board games. Add to that the fact that the game is $2.99 and universal for both iPad and iPhone, and it’s clear it’s a go-to (pun, unfortunately, intended) app.

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