Review by Chad Adams
One of my favorite things about playing boardgames (besides the social aspect) are the “puzzle-ly” challenges that excite my brain. While socializing with some friends from out-of-town, we started discussing some fun two player games we enjoy playing with our spouses. This is when I learned of (and then tried) a great game called Ubongo.
Ubongo is a game of competitive puzzle solving. The game consists of sheets of puzzles of varying difficulties that are randomly chosen by a die. Each puzzle is an area of squares on a board. You take plastic puzzle pieces that are a cross between tetris and blokus and then it is a race against each other to see who can cover all the area using all the puzzle pieces first. There is really not much more to it than that, yet the puzzles can be quite mind bending. There are multiple versions outside of the two player “duel” version which include the regular edition for multiple players and the extreme edition composed of even more mind pulverizing puzzles but with the heat turned up.
I enjoyed my couple of plays and thought it was just a perfect game to play on plane trips. I found out a little later that an iPhone version of the game was released. I quickly snatched it up. I mean who wouldn’t want Ubongo “to-go” in their pocket? Turns out, I may be one of them.
Ubongo puzzle adventure for iPhone is a game riddled with poor design choices and a low quality production. The first thing I would note is that the game looks terrible on my iPhone 4. The graphics are blurry, low resolution and use really ugly colors. additionally the app icon is horrendous. I would definitely hide it in a sub-folder. However, the absolute worst design choice is the puzzle board. At first I didn’t recognize it because it was so small. It’s also a little hard to move your pieces around as the rotation buttons are attached to each piece and are hard to use. I would have liked to see the devices touch screen used to accomplish this task. such as swiping your fingers and pinching to flip and rotate your pieces.
With all this bad design, it is however still Ubongo, a great puzzle board game. I still keep it tucked away on my phone just in case I get into a “puzzle-ly” mood. Which isn’t often. I think I will try and pickup the original board game and pack it in my travel bag.
Ubongo Board game:
Overall: 7 : Great for travel, spouses, or two players.