Blokus by Mattel is a classic board game that all families should own. In fact, according to the Blokus website, more than 3 million households own a Blokus game. There has already been a Blokus online that is quite popular socially as well as individually against the AI, and finally, Gameloft delivers Blokus to the App Store.
Blokus is a strategy game invented by a mathematician using the “Four Color Theorem” played between 2-4 players. The game has a board of 400 squares that must be filled with 84 polyminos, 21 per color, using simple rules. The game is such that it falls into the category of “a minute to learn, a lifetime to master.” In some areas of the world it has reached the popularity of other perennial favorite strategy games such as Go or Othello among others.
In the iPod Touch version however, there are no pieces to lose, questions about placement, blocks to count for scores, arguments between friends – the game does that all for you. There it is, in all its brilliant color, just waiting for you to play.
There are several modes of play , with tournament being my favorite. A series of challenges are presented as you play various different games whether it is 4 player Classic, 2 player Duo, 2 players using 2 colors much variety is presented, and the challenges are assorted as well. Some challenges, of course, are just to win the game but others range from don’t come in last in a 4 player game to win the game with x number of points, or use all your 5 block pieces in one game. Unlockable awards are also given along the way. A very nice feature that is sometimes overlooked in games of this nature is a colorblind mode. This might open this game up to a whole new set of players and it is a very thoughtful option.
Tournament Mode: I love that it is not merely sitting down to play a board game. This mode forces me to play all the various types of Blokus combinations as I move through the various cups. The game starts off with a tutorial level and then progress to easy levels on up, all with some hints intermixed constantly throughout. It quickly moves up in levels to get more challenging. I am hoping at some point Blokus Trigon is introduced in addition to the Classic and the Duo game boards. That would make it complete.
Placing pieces: A highlight appears on the board showing all your possible placement areas and pieces in your inventory that do not fit anywhere are shaded out. When you choose a piece to place, rotating it is simple with a swipe of the finger and reversing it is the same. This makes it so much easier to place a piece than in the real board game!
Achievement Panel: While I like the achievements and actually enjoy earning them, viewing them is a scroll bar with all of them visible – some locked, some opened. My real gripe is that they are numbered 1-36 and when you have one highlighted, unlocked or not, the indicator is which achievement you are viewing – say 23/36 and when you move to the next it says 24/36. What I would like to see instead is how many out of the 36 you have earned as a steady point of reference.
Multiplayer Mode: Unless I am plain unlucky in timing, there have been very few players online when I want to play an online game. It is wonderful that this game includes both bluetooth and wifi multiplayer but there just need to be more players to play! Also, I am not sure if it is the connection or people wimping out, but when I do have a chance for an online match up, it seems whenever I am winning my opponents disappear! I won’t jump to conclusions as it could be the server, but that definitely is disheartening.
Truth be told, being a Blokus player from way back, I actually looked for this game in the app store when I first got my iPod Touch. Sadly it wasn’t there so I was thrilled when it finally arrived. I can now play on the go, anywhere and anytime during freeplay and challenge myself in the Tournament mode. No worries about losing pieces or counting up blocks as the computer does it all for you now even. I can practice new strategies, pick up hints from watching the computer play, all useful for real life games. Blokus by Gameloft is a welcome addition to the App Store’s board game family and will be on my iPod Touch for a long time.