Review: Tokaido for iOS Board Game Conversion

Review: Tokaido for iOS Board Game Conversion

Thanks to the growing popularity of real-world board games these days, mobile conversions of these games is almost becoming an expected outcome of the more successful titles in the genre. One of those highly popular board games is Tokaido ($6.99), an adventure game where players compete to acquire material goods while traveling along the East Sea Road. The player who has acquired the items and experiences worth the most value at the end of the journey wins the game. Read on to find out how the mobile conversion fairs compared to other board game conversions in the App Store. 

Related: Lanterns: The Harvest Festival Review

Tokaido is perfectly nuanced with gentle, carefully styled audio and visual cues that embody a perfect ambience of Far East road traveling in a slightly whimsical way. The game plays well both on iPad and iPhone, though given the small size of the on-screen characters, it's best suited for a tablet experience (as are most board game conversions). Like the real-world board game counterpart, Tokaido for iOS supports solo play as well as pass-and-play with up to four players (with a mix of human and AI) as well as online matches. Online games require players to first create an online account. Once done, players can either initiate or join games with other players.  Unfortunately, at the times I tried this feature, no rooms were available and when I created a room, I waited for several minutes and gave up after no one joined my room. Several more attempts at different times throughout the day delivered the same results. Since the developers chose to use their own servers for matchmaking rather than rely on Game Center, I can't even attempt to invite friends to play the game with me.

Tokaido Character Selection Screen

Another issue with the game in its current state is the fact that progress states of games are not saved. That's a real shame since some games can take up to 20 minutes or more to complete. Note to developers: if you're going to port a board game, please make sure mobile gamers don't lose any of their progress. Also, please don't force us to watch your lengthy company logo splash screen each time we launch the game. Even though I tried to furiously tap this away, developer Funforge Digital made me sit through it every time.  How about giving players a checkbox option in the game settings screen to bypass the logo screen? Doing so will save nearly ten seconds of wasted time each time players launch the game.

Those nagging criticisms aside, the game itself is actually very well crafted and fun to play. Touch controls are intuitive and well implemented especially for a board game port. It's apparent that a great deal of effort was invested in the smooth animations and thematic user interface that made interacting with the game obvious and enjoyable. The AI opponents are adequate, though there is no sliding difficulty scale to play against the computer with varying degrees of AI smarts. As such, the best mode currently offering the most human player interactivity and challenge is the pass-and-play offline mode. Playing this option with an iPad and two or three other human players is the game's sweet spot. It's just like playing the board game minus the setup time and the bulk of bringing it to a friend's place. Indeed, the oriental art style from the game combined with the oriental string and wind instrument audio cues perfectly set the tone. Even though Tokaido is a competitive game, these high quality presentation aspects keep it light and soothing for all players.

Tokaido Player Interaction Screen

Final Verdict

In summary, if you are a big fan of the original Tokaido board game and have friends to play the game with, you will be mostly satisfied with this mobile conversion effort. Hopefully the developers can address the save game and online play shortcomings in future patches. Until they do, Tokaido for iOS will remain a beautiful but slightly flawed implementation of the popular board gaming experience.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.


Author Details

Mike Riley's picture

Author Details

Mike Riley

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.