It's the best hand-held game ever, but not on the best hand-held
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Some of the most successful games on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch rely on relatively simple ideas meshed with the unique input methods on offer to developers working on IOS. For instance, strategy games work beautifully if they’re well presented enough. Board games also shine and in the case of Wizard Hex, you’ve got the perfect example of a game that’s pretty simple to pick up but offers hour after hour of relaxing and rewarding gameplay.
Wizard Hex feels a lot like a cross between Reversi, Chinese Checkers and games of that ilk, coupled with territory grabbing.
Without meaning to do the game a massive disservice, it instantly feels familiar yet the more you delve into the various little kinks and wrinkles the game throws at you, the more you’re in serious danger of missing bus stops, appointments or having your loved one throw heavy cushions at you because you’ve turned into a silent stone monolith while becoming more and more absorbed in the game.
The Wizard Hex board is presented as a multi-sided game area, around which are gathered elemental pieces which you move around the board’s grid. Bearing in mind that each element can only ‘take’ opposing elements of a certain type, and that your ultimate goal is to occupy as much of the board as possible at the end of the game, strategy plays a massive part in how the game will unfold. This becomes particularly prevalent during the latter stages of a round, when the board becomes densely populated and players constantly attack and defend their gained territory.
Presentation-wise, Wizard Hex looks absolutely superb on whatever platform you choose to play it on. From my humble iPod Touch 2G to the office iPad, the game looks stunning and interaction with the pieces is smooth and sublime. Matching you against virtual or real opponents, the game offers several levels of expertise from beginner to master.
The price of the game might feel a bit steep by current app store standards (Wizard Hex will cost you £2.99 on the UK iTunes store for the universal application) but Trouble Brothers, the developers of Wizard Hex, have promised several upgrades and spells throughout 2011. The game could use a bit more supporting work, tutorial wise but as I stated elsewhere in the review, even if you dive in at the deep end you'll soon work out what's what, and be able to pick up the basics of the game quite quickly.
With the studio’s other planned game projects for 2011 (including games as diverse as Cargo Runners, a strategic management game and the more family friendly Match-O-Matic), it looks like the year ahead is going to be a busy time for the Seattle-based studio. With Wizard Hex, the first offering, you’ll see where years of gaming experience have paid off to produce something that should end up being a definite keeper on whatever iDevice you lug around with you.