The board game Blokus has long been a family favorite in the Broida household, but there's just one problem with it: to really enjoy the game as it's meant to be played, you need four players. Consequently, either everyone plays, or no one does.
Blokus for iPhone adds AI to the mix, meaning you can finally go it alone if you choose. But virtual opponents are just the tip of the gameplay iceberg: you can also play against other iPhone/iPod/iPad users, either locally (via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi) or online.
In case you're not familiar with the game, Blokus could best be described as four-player Tetris--except that instead of trying to nestle various block shapes together, you link your like-colored blocks by their corners. The object is to place as many of your own blocks as you can while blocking the other players from laying theirs.
It's a snap to learn, and endlessly fun to play because the outcome is always different. The actual board game does offer two- and even three-player variants, but they're just not the same as squaring off with a foursome.
Interestingly, the app offers similar variants--some of which are a little confusing. For example, "Classic 4" is the standard game, though you're the only human player. Same goes for "Classic 2," in which you take on the role of a second human player. "Duo," its name notwithstanding, is another single-player exercise, but played on a smaller board with just two colors instead of four.
On the multiplayer side, you can invite up to three other local players, or connect to Gameloft Live (you'll need a free account) for online competition. Alas, I wasn't able to test that option, as there were no games for me to join. And when I created one of my own, no other players showed up. But that's understandable: the game's been in the App Store for only two days.
Although there's a helpful tutorial that explains the basic rules of Blokus and shows you how to place your pieces, the built-in instructions don't sufficiently explain the different gameplay modes.
What's more, I was dismayed to discover that the app didn't resume my game-in-progress after I exited and restarted it. That's a bug that needs fixing immediately.
On my iPhone, the Blokus board feels a little claustrophobic. The game all but begs to be played on an iPad's comparatively spacious screen. That said, it's still ridiculously fun, and well worth the $4.99 price of admission--especially considering that the board game sells for upwards of $30.
And speaking of board games that have received the app treatment, be sure to check out