Version Reviewed: 1.01
App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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Remember the good ol’ days of riding a bike to the local pizza parlor or arcade, wasting a few dollars to prove dominance over the other neighborhood kids in virtual fisticuffs? For anyone who respects the mantra of "Winner Stays, Loser Pays" and knows that putting a quarter on the lip of the arcade cabinet to declare "next" was an inviolable claim, then Yomi may be of interest.
Based on the card game of the same name by Sirlin Games, Yomi pits players against one another in a head-to-head clash of fists, feet, and fury. The main game features a roster of ten characters with an expansion of ten more available via in-app purchase. Each fighter’s deck (based around the standard 52 card poker deck, plus Jokers) is pre-assembled; there are no CCG/deck-building elements here. Where they differ from standard playing cards is that each one represents an action (attack, throw, block, or dodge) in addition to their suit and number value. These actions interact in a rock-paper-scissors manner. Attacks beat throws, throws beat blocks/dodges, blocks/dodges beat attacks. Players select cards for each turn's move, revealing them simultaneously. In the event of a mutually timed attack or throw, ties are broken using each card’s speed value, with the lowest speed winning the exchange. Like any fighting game, combos play a large role. There are ways to cancel out of an opponent’s combo or bluff them into ending it early, but it’s a risky gambit. Indeed, Yomi as a whole leans quite heavily on risky guessing, anticipating what opponents will throw while taking hand management, special abilities, and so on into account.
The decision to use actual playing card values and suits in Yomi is curious. There are a few instances that will refer to red cards versus black ones, but those could have easily been eliminated in favor of more flavorful, theme-enhancing terminology. As it stands, it feels like a prototyping phase holdover from the tabletop version that never got removed. I also felt like fights against the AI (even on easy) could be ridiculously difficult at times, with my opponent always presciently countering my moves. This could be frustration talking, but fights against humans seemed much more even. Sadly, locating a match can take a long time, which is all the more perplexing since the iOS version apparently supports cross-platform play with a web version I didn’t even realize existed until I began editing this review.
While I can't say with 100% certainty that Yomi is the only attempt to adapt the experience of a Street Fighter-style fighting game to a card/board game format (I'm sure someone out there from Board Game Geek is chomping at the bit over my painful ignorance), it certainly wins points in my book for having a fairly unique concept. The price point is a bit steep (though still better than the $100 tabletop version), but the artwork is evocative and gorgeous. Might be worth dropping forty quarters on, if only to decide if the boxed version is worth it.