Astraware Board Games

Astraware Board Games is a collection of 8 classic games: Chess, Backgammon, Checkers, Ludo, Nine Men’s Morris, Reversi, Tic-Tac-Toe, and Snakes & Ladders. The collection allows you to play against the computer, or against 1-3 friends using either the same or multiple iPhones through local Wi-Fi. Graphics are simple, yet attractive and the game features basic how-to-play tutorials for each game. There are three levels of difficulty for each game, and allows any game to be paused and saved for later if you wanted to play a different game instead.

Unfortunately, the game has a clunky options interface. If you want to play checkers on hard, for example, you have to start a game (which is automatically set to easy), go to the game options, select hard, and then start a new game. In fact, every option change requires a game restart. It’s too bad since there are a lot of good options for the games depending on how you like to play (i.e. checkers with forced jumping or not, you can’t stop on a game-winning square unless you roll the exact number of squares or not, etc). Most of the options really should have been placed on the main game start page along with where you select your name and how many opponents you’d like.

Several of the games have impressive gameplay, but chess is where a collection like this would truly shine. Unfortunately this app’s chess opponent truly disappoints. I understand a good chess game is difficult to come by, but for $4.99, the AI is weak and unbalanced towards offense, even on hard. The checker’s computer opponent is likewise spotty. You just have to wait for the computer to make a mistake, especially with the forced jump option selected. I was also able to win at backgammon, even though I barely understand that game. Person to person games would obviously not suffer from the computer’s iffy AI, thus making multiplayer mode this collection’s selling point.

Honestly this collection could be really good with very few minor fixes, but until then there are just too many unavoidable bugs. Win Nine Men’s Morris, and there’s a 75% chance the game will crash completely. One time, after a crash, I opened a paused game of Ludo to find it had reverted to 20 turns ago. The collection is still very playable, but these bugs become somewhat frustrating after a while.

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