By Dain Schroeder on Wed, 07/07/2010
In the year 2000, German board-game enthusiast Klaus-Jurgen Wrede unleashed his own creation, Carcassonne, upon the world. Not long after, the game became a world-wide phenomenon, winning several awards and generating much praise from critics. The year is now 2010, and a version of Carcassonne has been developed for the iPhone and iPod Touch (with an iPad version forthcoming). How does the iOS version compare to the board game, and does it translate well to being played on a phone? Read on!
The concept of Carcassonne is relatively simple. There is no "game board" to start with. Rather, the game board is built as the game advances, with each player placing a tile on their turn. Each player starts with a set amount of 'followers,' one of which may be placed after setting a tile on the game board. At the end of the game, points are earned based on where each follower has been placed, and the player with the most points is declared the winner. The game ends when the last tile has been placed.
The Carcassonne app expands on this gameplay by allowing several different modes of play. It is possible to play the classic game either against AI players, by passing the iProduct between several local players, or even playing online against players from across the world. In addition to these variations on the classic game, there is also a whole new mode dubbed 'Solitaire mode,' in which the player is tasked with placing all the game tiles on the board as close together as possible in order to receive the highest possible amount of points.
The game translates very well from its board-game counterpart, and it looks simply stunning on the iPhone, particularly with the new iPhone 4's Retina Display. There is an excellent tutorial for each game mode (which all feature superb voice acting), and I have never experienced any crashes or bugs on any of the devices I've tried the game on (a 1st-gen iPhone, a 3GS, and an iPhone 4).
The game is all but perfect, and yet I do have one (albeit minor) complaint. No matter what difficulty the AI players are set to, they play extremely aggressively. For someone who is familiar with Carcassonne and its rules, this will be no problem; however, to a brand new player, this may prove to be a bit frustrating. It would be nice if there was an option for an even more passive AI player to spar with.
All in all, Carcassone is a fantastic game. Any fan of the original game will certainly find plenty to love here, and players who are completely new to Carcassonne are also sure to enjoy the game once they get a solid grasp of how to play. I would strongly recommend this app to anyone looking for a good way to burn some time with their iProduct.