Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod Touch
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Chocolate and peanut butter. Beer and pretzels. Bacon and anything. Good things come in pairs, and that includes Reiner Knizia and board games. The latest Knizia creation to make its way to the App Store is Reiner Knizia's Samurai, an iOS presentation of the German-style board game. It's an excellent game delivered in solid fashion by developer Conlan Rios.
The game of Samurai is pleasingly simple. The board is made up of hexes representing Japanese islands. You place Influence tiles on hexes to attempt to capture one of three different token types, with the goal of capturing more of each type than the other players. Like all great games, this simple premise is deceptive; in actual play, there's a fair amount of strategy and depth. There's also a computer AI that pulls no punches; so you have to play smart to win.
Knizia's game design is golden, and so the real task of the developer was to deliver it to the iOS in a playable form. And he has succeeded, for the most part. The controls are simple touch and tap, with good ability to undo moves before committing and some color-coded signals to assist in determining who controls what. The AI, as mentioned earlier,
is sharp enough to challenge you -- I lost my first several games against it -- and there's also an online multiplayer mode for facing human opponents. It's all very competently executed.
The one problem is with the graphics. The whole thing does end up being a little ... well, small. Numbers, tiles, images, and maps all feel a little cramped and muddy on the iPhone or iPod screen. I think this is because Rios tried a little too hard to recreate the look of the board game. A little more abstraction, and a slightly cleaner look, would do well here. Either that, or a much bigger screen (and, come on, this game would own on the iPad with single-device multiplayer).
All in all, what you're getting on your iOS device is a very playable version of an excellent German-style board game. It's well worth a look.