Now that the “season to be jolly” is over, we can reflect on the damage done by the inevitable foray into playing board games. No doubt some over-zealous Uncle refused to play with the “new box” of Trivial Pursuits questions, or a petulant child hid £500 in Monopoly money under the table for a rainy day. But never-the-less, board games are a staple of holidays and festive periods. The interestingly named Cheatwell Games have tried to evolve this concept for the 21st Century by combining the traditional board game with your phone. The result is App-Player.
The game involves running a free app on your Android or Apple device which will provide the content for one of four games which cover trivia, charades, guess the tune and a top ten game reminiscent of Family Fortunes. By answering questions correctly from the app, you then progress on the physical game board by collecting counters. Once you fill up your section of the board, you win in classic fashion. There are different inserts depending on the game you are playing, plus generic inserts for future games.
A bonus for families is the ability to alter the time limit or difficulty of questions for younger players. I would also suggest that the built in sound effects to indicate time is up or whether the answer is correct be editable to include whatever you happen to have on your host device to truly customise the playing experience.
The apps themselves are well put together although they lack some of the graphical polish you might expect. Also, the Android variants do not always have options under the soft button menus which is probably more to do with cross platform development with the iPhone than an omisson from the developers. Not really a problem but seasoned Android users may suffer some confusion. At first glance, you can tell the apps are not terribly mature, but at the same time they work well and during my seasonal testing I did not encounter any lockups or incompatibilities with several devices, old and new.
App-Player had a couple of serious outings over Christmas, and despite scepticism to start with, the formula clearly works. However, it should be more clear if everyone taking part is required to load the relevant app to their own device to start with. I had several friends all on the Android Market downloading feverishly before it dawned on me that a single phone or tablet should be passed around, or in some cases could stay with a single quiz master.
The ace in the hole is the ability to download the latest questions to the device for each play which means content should always stay fresh while relying on a tried and tested formula. As a concept it is great. There is room for expansion in the future and overall it was a lot of fun to use. With a retail price of £19.99, it seems comparable to other board games but offers much more flexibility. If you are even remotely partial to the odd bit of family fun around the table, App-Player should do the trick.
AndroidGenus Score: 8/10
Pros: Flexible and expandable – will not get old quickly. Suitable for all the family.
Cons: Apps lack a little polish.