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Kumoku! for iOS

Kumoku! for iOS

Platform: iPhone/iPod
Category: Puzzle, Strategy

Kumoku! is a new game for iOS that iterates on the classic game of tic-tac-toe. Rather than a simple three-by-three board, Kumoku uses a three-by-three board of three-by-three boards. While the premise sounds simple, this extra layer adds a lot of complexity. The game is very challenging, but the interface does get in the way of this a little.

Players take turns selecting moves just like in tic-tac-toe. Each time you get three in a row on one of the nine boards, you get a point. Unlike tic-tac-toe, you don't simply win by getting three in a row. When all the spaces have been used, the player with the most points wins. So far, this sort of sounds like nine games of tic-tac-toe going at once, but there's a little more to it. You can also get a point for marking the same space in three boards in a row. I'll give you an example. Remember, there are three-by-three boards. Say I select the top-left corner in each of the three top boards. I get a point for that.

There are also a couple ways to win instantly regardless of score. If I manage to get the same three in a row on three boards in a row, I win. Again, consider the top three boards. If in each of those boards I have the diagonal going from the bottom-left to the top-right, I'll win. Finally, if I have the same space in all nine boards, I'll win instantly that way too. These additions make it much more complex that tic-tac-toe. If you want to do well, you'll really need to plan ahead.

Unfortunately, the interface gets in the way. The button placement can be clumsy; I didn't notice certain parts of the interface at first such as the ability to scroll through the help. When you choose your color and marker, the spaces are either marked with an 'x' or a '0'. It seems strange that they wouldn't have used graphics for the markers. It seems minor, but it's obviously plain text of an 'x' or the number '0', so they're not the same height. Okay, that's just cosmetic. The real problem with the game is that it's hard to select the small spaces. Peragames must have known this, because they've compensated with a back button that removes the last move. I would have liked to see a zoom function, perhaps.

You can play Kumoku! alone or with two players on a single device. The last move is always marked, so you'll know what to consider. When playing alone, there are three difficulties. I was able to beat the first difficulty after a 15-20 minutes of playing. I've yet to beat the second difficulty, and I haven't even tried the third. The AI always sets up many positions that I don't notice. After practicing and practicing, I challenged another person to a two-player match. She had never played before, so I explained the game to her. She beat me on her first try. Maybe I'm just not very good at this! Interestingly, Kumoku! also features an auto mode that pits two AIs against each other. This lets you watch to learn strategy from them, and you can pause it at any time. It's a nice feature!

Kumoku! requires a surprising amount of strategy and is a fun little game. The back button compensates for the inelegant interface, so while I can't say it's highly polished, it's definitely playable. If you like these type of puzzle, strategy games, you'll enjoy Kumoku! It's currently $0.99 on the App Store.

This review was based off a copy of the game provided by Peragames for review purposes. Peter is MrDevee on Apple's Game Center and can be reached at @TheUser on Twitter.


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