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Just a Peek

Yahtzee for iPod

There are some games that play well when you are alone and there are some that beg for another player before any fun can be had.

EA Mobile’s Scrabble nicely falls into the former category while its version of Yahtzee for the iPod is smack in the middle of the latter.

Yahtzee classic

In Yahtzee, you roll five dice up to three times and attempt to match one of 13 scoring categories. You can keep any of the dice and roll the remaining if you want. After your third roll you decide which category to take your score from. Use up all the categories and the game ends with the player having the highest score winning.

I was a huge Yahtzee fan in my younger days. Shaking up that cup full of dice while trash talking and downing margaritas on a hot summer night was THE thing to do in my small corner of the world back then. It wasn’t so much about what we were playing, it was just that we had an excuse to hang out, drink, and talk.

The iPod is a personal device: You listen to your music on it, watch your movies and videos, you get podcasts and audiobook that you like loaded up on it. It’s a small device with a small screen that is meant for private viewing.

Yahtzee, on the other hand, was created to be played with at least one other person, someone you can kid around with. Yahtzee solo just ain’t a lot of fun and playing against the computer is no good either. You need another person to play with.

One of two variations, this one is Yahtzee Rainbow

That’s not to say Yahtzee for the iPod is not a well executed game, in fact I think its a game ideally suited for the iPod. The screen is simple and easy to see, the controls are equally simple and an absolute joy to use, and this version of Yahtzee is faithful to the original, almost to a fault.

I also believe that in situations where you and several folks are cramped into a small space for 30 minutes or more, on a road trip for instance, you’d be hard pressed to find a more suitable and fun game to play. You can’t hear the dice shaking in the cup, however, unless everyone has earphones of some sort. But then, that might not be such a bad thing because it’s likely everyone will be talking anyway.

Of course, you can’t often depend on being in close quarters someone you like for 30 plus minutes with nothing to do but play Yahtzee. If that happens a lot in your life you may want to get some counseling or see a good therapist. But then, Yahtzee’s cheaper and completely harmless... I guess it’s your call.

EA Mobile missed an excellent opportunity by not adding some random Easter Eggs or timed power-ups to make playing solo more enjoyable. Maybe they could have included a timed Yahtzee game, or had a kitten randomly cross the screen (everybody likes kittens). Anything to make the solo game a bit more interesting.

Another variation, Yahtzee Doubles

Yes, there is the included multi-color dice version that gives you points for matching colors as well as suits, but it’s just more of the same thing, and playing against the computer induces no joy either. It’s the human interaction that makes the game fun, or at least some funky sounds and flashing lights.

So, should you buy Yahtzee? If you’re planning a road trip Yahtzee is just the antidote for those long stretches of boring highway between where you are and where you’re going. If you are looking for something to whittle away a few moments while waiting for your clothes to dry, I’d take a look at Scrabble or Sims Pool instead.

Yahtzee for the iPod is a faithful rendition of the original game, and that may be it’s biggest fault. As such I can recommend it, but not enthusiastically.

Review item Yahtzee
Manufacturer EA Mobile
Price US$4.99
Minimum System requirements iPod Classic
iPod Video (5th genration)
iPod nano (3rd generation)
iTunes (to purchase and load the game)

* Note: My rating system goes like this:

* Get it Now! - Highest rating and an absolute must-have
* Highly recommend - Minor flaws, but a great product
* Recommend - Flawed, but still a solid product
* So-so - Problem product that may find a niche market
* Avoid - Why did they bother making it? A money waster.

Vern Seward is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He’s been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

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