Developer: Elephant Mouse LLC
Price: FREE
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

startrekrivals06Granted I’ve yet to watch either of the Star Trek reboot films (I know, I know), but I seem to recall there being something about Kirk and Spock not liking each other. Or rather, they have a kind of rivalry going on. Which is appropriate since Star Trek Rivals is all about going toe-to-toe with friends. And shoving their faces in the dirt with superior tactics. In a friendly way.

Star Trek Rivals is essentially the Triple Triad mini-game from Final Fantasy IX with Captain Kirk, the Enterprise, and so on. For the unfamiliar that means a 3X3 grid and a bunch of cards with a number on each of their four sides. When a card is placed next to a rival’s, and it has the higher number between the two touching sides, that card is converted to the other side. The overall goal is to have dominion over more cards than the opposition by the time the grid is full. This is done by strategically placing cards so that they either block an opponent’s attempts at assimilation or take over their cards directly.

startrekrivals08It might be a borrowed formula, but Star Trek Rivals is still plenty of fun. It’s simple yet allows for some pretty radical strategies in such a small space. There are also a fair number of cards to collect (over 100), and with enough extras and cash they can be upgraded. The matchmaking system also keeps things moving brusquely. Setting up a game with random players and friends only takes a tap. Then it’s time to throw down. No worries about other players with super powerful cards, either. Each is only allowed a hand of five for a match, and the likelihood of a hand full of awesomeness is incredibly slim. If anything, the powerful cards only provide the opportunity for an advantage.

What bugs me about playing Star Trek Rivals is the all the fanfare. What I mean is the game gets all flashy with the effects, but it has a tendency to put a bit too much emphasis on them. Starting a game is quick, but then there’s the matter of sitting through the unskippable animations of the cards being dealt, as well as the cascading effects whenever a bunch of cards are properly lined up. They aren’t bad or super-long, but they’re just long enough to be a bit annoying when viewed over and over again during each and every match.

It’s a little weird to think that Star Trek Rivals is essentially a mini-game from a 13 year old RPG with a Star Trek paintjob, but it works. It works incredibly well, all things considered. It’s fun, quick to pick up and play, easy to find opponents, and doesn’t outright punish those who are unwilling to shell out real cash.

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