Tag Archives: Card Game

Food Fight iOS Review – A Card Game Done Right

Food Fight iOS is a version of a physical card game by Cryptozoic Entertainment, brought to the iDevices by Playdek, Inc.  The game consists of players building a small army to try and beat the others by having higher numbers—like the card game “War”—but with lots of strategy and humor involved.

A typical game consists of battles for certain meals (these meals have values from 1 to 3 that add up eventually to win a game), and each player selects five cards from his hand to build an army to fight the chosen meal.  The cards have different colors for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and most of the troops (from all of the meals) have abilities that will help you if you use a good strategy.  The troop flipped in a serving with the highest number between the players wins one after meal mint.  The player who ends up with the most after meal mints in the five servings wins the meal.  Occasionally another element is introduced, the dog, when one player does not want to fight the same meal as the others.  They then battle the dog for that meal, while the other players fight over the one that they selected.

The iOS implementation includes a few different game modes, including a campaign where you continuously unlock more cards for your initial hand and decks for each meal.  As you progress you fight breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and then a boss.  The bosses have special abilities, but once you defeat them you’ll get their card to add to one of your three decks.  There also is a successful and fun asynchronous multiplayer mode, a card gallery (trust me you want to check this out, the cards are hilarious), an offline mode where you can customize your game experience, and, thankfully, a tutorial.  It takes a bit to get the hang of the game, but once you understand what is going on it becomes an absolute blast to play.


Cards: The art is unbelievably good, and most of them are uproariously funny.

Interface: Simple, probably better on an iPad but tapping and double tapping enlarge cards so that they can be read.

Modes: The multiplayer is well implemented, and the campaign is a good way to spend your time.

The game: Yes, this isn’t a game created initially for the iDevices, but it’s damn fun.  I have played the physical card game, and can say that the iDevice version has been put together as well as it could be.


Blurred text: When scaled down on the iPhone and iPod Touch some of the card features are more difficult to read, but double tapping enlarges them.

Tutorial: The tutorial is good, but the way it is written is a bit confusing.  It was creative to write it with a faux-French accent, but it could throw people off.

Food Fight iOS is a perfect example of how to bring a version of a card game to the iDevices, and how to do it well.  The UI is simple and graphically pleasing, while the audio is not obtrusive.  The game itself is a blast both in the physical version and the iOS one, and completely merits a “Must Have” rating.

Food Fight iOS was developed by Playdek, Inc. (and created by Cryptozoic Entertainment), and is available for $3.99 on the appstore.  I played through version 1.0.1 on my iPod Touch 3G.

Sword & Poker Review: A Worthy Gamble

An unlikely combination of RPG and poker, GAIA‘s Sword & Poker manages to blend two disparate concepts into a single compelling whole. Much in the same way that Puzzle Quest utilized the match-three puzzle as an RPG battle system, Sword & Poker’s combat is waged at the poker table.

Sword & Poker takes place in a world based on cards, where the evil Lord of Chaos has risen to power using an artifact known as the Stone of Creation. With the stone, the Lord of Chaos has fortified himself deep within a dungeon, protected by five loyal guardians and an army of monstrous denizens. Naturally, you plunge into that action; you are an adventurer, after all.

Each floor of the dungeon is divided into a series of rooms containing either a monster or a treasure, and sometimes both. The stairs to each lower level are typically guarded by a beast slightly stronger than the rest, and the five boss guardians are stronger still.

Combat is divided into rounds and turns, with one round being equal to ten turns. Each round, nine cards are dealt into a 3×3 grid. Players are dealt hands of four cards to start, with played cards being replenished every turn. On a turn, you or your opponent lay down two cards to create a poker hand using cards in the grid. Better hands inflict larger damage to your opponent. This being a poker game, damage is measured in coins. You can defeat your opponent by depleting their pool of coins.

As you progress deeper into the dungeon, you will upgrade your coin purse and unlock weapons, shields and spells to use during combat. Weapons increase the amount of damage inflicted by your poker hands, and some weapons grant special abilities to particular hands. With the scimitar equipped, for example, you will recover coins equal to half your inflicted damage when playing Two Pair. Other abilities include stealing opponents’ cards, piercing armor and more. Shields provide you a defense buffer that enemies much breach before they can inflict damage to you, and renew each round. Spells can be used to rearrange cards on the board, steal your opponents shield, heal damage and more.


Artwork: The hand drawn artwork in Sword & Poker is cartoon-like and adorable, and really works for the game. It’s a lot of fun to encounter new monsters, just to see them.

Combat: I never would have imagined that poker would make for an enjoyable combat mechanic, but it does. And while is sounds like an odd concept to add RPG elements like swords, shields and magical spells to a poker game, it really works. Battles are a lot of fun, and I often find myself getting caught up in the game. “Just one more match,” I say. Many matches and several dungeon floors later, I realize it’s way past my bedtime and have to force myself to stop playing so that I can get up in the morning and go to work.

Multiplayer: Sword & Poker includes a pass-and-play multiplayer mode allowing you to challenge your friends and siblings to deadly rounds of poker. Hurray!


Repetitive Music: Sword & Poker has only two songs; the music that plays outside of combat, and the music that plays inside of combat. The music isn’t bad, but it does get repetitive after a while. Would have been nice to have a few more tunes, or the ability to play your own. Luckily, there are separate sliders for music and effects, so you can mute the music if it begins to wear on you.

Bigtime game designer works for a brand-name publisher, walks into a planning session and says, “Hey guys, I’ve got this great game idea: Poker with swords. It’s an RPG wrapped around a poker game, and …” And he gets laughed out of the meeting. Sword & Poker is one of those zany games that makes you glad for iPhone gaming, glad for indie developers, and glad that the App Store is such an accessible venue for crazy ideas. As ridiculous an idea as it sounds, Sword & Poker is a really fun game, and one that I find easy to recommend as a purchase.

I warn you, though: I’ve been losing sleep since buying it. Just one more match … one more match … one more … OMG, it’s what time in the morning?! Yeah, I need to stop playing before bed. And if you doubt the truth of my words, there’s a free lite version to try.

Sword & Poker is developed by GAIA Co., Ltd. and is currently available at an introductory 75% discount for $0.99. Reviewed on an iPhone 3G.

Karmastar Review: Life as Strategic Microcosm

Life is made of choices. Some choices set you ahead, while others set you back. Your choices often affect not only your own life, but, for better or worse, also the lives of those around you. And their choices, in turn, can often affect you. The moral pendulum swings both ways. While doing the right thing can often push you in the right direction, doing the wrong thing can sometimes push you in the right direction faster. And sometimes, you fall flat on your face either way.

You make countless decisions on a daily basis — right, wrong, good, bad, moral, immoral, etc. Now, imagine your entire life, from birth to death, summarized in only eight decisions. Which decisions would they be, and would kind of person would they make you?

And that’s the game of Karmastar, a virtual card game for the iPhone in which your entire life happens in only eight rounds, or rather, in eight choices.

The rules are simple: In Karmastar, three players take turns competing for the highest score. The game lasts for eight rounds. Each player has five traits — Health, Mind, People, Love and Money. Higher traits help you win in combat. Traits max out at a value of five, at which point the trait becomes locked and cannot be stolen by your opponents. Each turn, you are given a choice between three randomly drawn actions; there are two types of actions. Boosts raise a trait by one and grant you a single point. Attacks are waged against your opponents, and win you two points if victorious; traits do not improve, and losing combat grants you nothing. During attack, players roll “dice” against one another. The higher the trait used for the attack, the more dice you roll. Players also receive wildcards at the beginning of each round, which can be played during your turn. Wildcards can help you boost your traits, steal traits from opponents, improve your chances in combat and more. Through the course of the game, you may also be awarded bonus points for meeting particular requirements. Wildcards and bonus points are key to winning the game.


Presentation: Karmastar is both charming and attractive. Karma being a cosmic force that binds as all together, the game naturally occurs in space. Players are represented as astronauts floating around the planet Earth, and animate based upon your choices and actions. Traits and actions are nicely represented by icons, choices are randomly assigned karmic descriptions and pictures such as a hike in the woods, giving your first public speech, shopping for lingerie, being robbed by a bully, having a weird cousin move in, or having a bird poop on your picnic. These occurrences are well drawn and often humorous, and it’s always fun to find something new. The game is divided into four phases — childhood, adulthood, middle age and old age — and the action descriptions are also relevant to the phase in which you are currently playing. During childhood, actions may be school related, while in old age you might break your hip. The user-interface is great, and the sound-effects and ambiance are fantastic as well.

Karmastar is extremely well polished. Majesco Entertainment has clearly put a lot of care and effort into the game’s details. It’s been sitting at version 1.0 without an update since its March release, not because Majesco isn’t supporting it, but simply because there’s nothing wrong with it. The game offers a complete and well polished experience, without bugs or rough edges. I’ve been playing Karmastar for months, and the game has never crashed or offered up any other type of problem. Other developers should take notice; all games should be this polished at 1.0.

Strategy: Playing your turns is not going to win you the game. Victory is achieved by carefully managing your wildcards, and planning your choices to meet bonus point conditions. Bonus points can be scored by raising a single trait twice in a round, stealing traits from both opponents, winning the star by gaining a three point lead on the opposition, pummeling the star-holder in combat, winning the star twice in one game, being the first to max out each trait, and many other ways.

At first glance, Karmastar looks simple and very straight-forward. It quickly reveals itself to be a game of brilliant strategy, however. And with only eight moves in which to act, that strategy must play out quickly. Wildcards can be game-changers, and so strategies must also be adaptive.

Quick Sessions: I’ve never seen so much strategy crammed into such short sessions; eight rounds go quickly. I often find myself playing Karmastar in movie theaters waiting for the feature to begin, during commercial breaks while watching television, at restaurants waiting for my food to arrive, while having coffee at Starbucks, waiting in line at the bank, or between speakers at conferences.

Achievements: Karmastar includes a decent number of achievements which will only be unlocked over the course of many completed sessions. Some of them are quite easy to attain, while others require much more planning and/or patience.


Limited Social Aspects: Yes, you can play against other humans using multiple devices on local Wi-fi; but you cannot play against human opponents remotely, or by sharing a single device. Yes, there are numerous achievements to unlock; but there is no support for social platforms like Plus+ or Open Feint. If Karmastar ever does receive an update, I hope to see these issues addressed.

No Avatar Customization: This is really a very minor thing, but I would love to be able to customize my astronaut. This would be especially awesome if the game were ever to receive improved multiplayer support. Players could maybe be awarded additional customization options by unlocking achievements. This isn’t a complaint against the game, but simply an item for the wish list.

Karmastar is a great game, and I think the best of its genre in the App Store. If you enjoy games like Zooloretto or Uno, you’re going to love Karmastar and I’d rate it a Must Have. If strategic card games aren’t your thing, I still think Karmastar is worth a look, but it may not be an imperative purchase for you. I can tell you this much: I’ve sunk as much time into few games on my iPhone as I have into Karmastar. It’s another of those rare games to have earned a permanent place on my home screen.

For a limited time, Karmastar is on sale for $0.99. At that price, it’s a steal. Don’t miss it.


Karmastar is developed by Majesco Entertainment; reviewed at version 1.0 on an iPhone 3G. Karmastar usually costs $1.99, but is presently on sale for $0.99.