Friday, May 1, 2009

Boxd. ($0.99, version 1.0.2)

iTunes Link.

Among the countless match-3, shooting, and platforming games (some of which are very inventive but most of which are run-of-the-mill) we still get games that introduce new life/gameplay into the appstore.  Boxd is one of them.

The goal of the game is to box in your opponent to make them run out of moves before they do the same to you.  When you start it up you get a nice little welcome to the game, and three options.  Single-player game, two-player game, and high scores.  High scores include the highest score per level beat, in seconds.  If you select one- or two-player game, you get to select the level.  You can select any level you have beaten plus the first unbeaten level.  It would be nice to have an option to go back to the main menu from the level-selection menu, in case you change your mind.  Once you select the level, you get taken to the main board.  If you have beaten a level in the one-player mode you can then play that level in the two-player mode.

The main game area has just the board and two dots, nothing else.  The board is a 6X8 grid of squares.  You are the green dot and your opponent is the blue dot.  You get to move first.  You can move one square in any direction, including diagonals.  After you move, you get to block out any square you wish.  You move by selecting the square you want to move to, and then select the square you want to block out.  Little by little you try to trap your opponent into a single square without any more moves possible by putting boxes all around them.  If there's a box to the right and below, they can still use the lower-right diagonal, making it tougher to box them in.

I found the game more difficult than it sounds (which is great).  It took me many tries to beat level one, but then I breezed through more of less through levels 2-4, and I currently haven't beaten level five.  The first level has all squares unblocked and levels 2-5 have different box layouts.

If you are having trouble passing a level, pay attention as to how your opponent is boxing you in, and then try to use the same strategy on them.

There are no sounds or sound effects.  The developer was going for simple, but there's simple and rough or simple and polished.  A few enhancements could polish up this game a bit.  I think a title screen could be a nice touch, with a graphic and the game's name.  Each step in the menu should have an option to go back to the previous menu.  There should be a way for the player to go from the game screen to the main menu instead of having to exit the app and then restart it.

A few sound effects would also be nice, such as when one moves, when a block is placed, and winning and losing sounds.

At a dollar it's a great bargain title and the gameplay is top notch.  The developer seems to be responsive and seems to want to add to it.  It's worth its asking price as it is and it seems it will be getting better with time.

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