It’s another weekend, and we at TechNorms have the Weekend Games Corner for you. For those of you who may never have gotten the chance to sit down with us for this feature before, we spent the past week trying to find some of the most interesting and unique casual games for Android, iOS, and Flash. Quite frankly, it’s the kind of “work” that we can really get behind.
After doing our best to research awesome games, we pick the three best ones. These are the titles that really caught our interest this week. Best of all, they’re all free. So consider this your free dose of weekend entertainment. This week’s theme is cards and board games. There are a great deal of electronic versions of real-life games that are worth playing, especially with the unique addition of online multiplayer.
Uno Free (Android)
People without a family or anybody who hasn’t spent a great amount of time around little kids may not have played Uno before. Everybody else, though, probably has. It’s a family-friendly card game that’s been around for seriously forever.
A word of caution about the game, though. Uno is a lot of fun with a group of people who are looking for some good casual fun. The game is less about deep strategic play and more about having fun by shocking a friend with a Draw 4. This is not a skill-intensive game by any stretch of the imagination.
This quality does end up in Uno’s favor, though. New players can pick up the game almost instantly with no issue. It’s a classic game, and we’d recommend it for entertaining groups of children.
The Uno app takes the classic game and builds on it some new and interesting ways. There are options for online and offline multiplayer. The offline multiplayer is best done with a tablet, as huddling a group around a tiny phone screen is nobody’s idea of fun.
Truthfully, offline multiplayer is best done with a deck of real Uno cards. If you don’t have those, use a regular deck of playing cards and look up the rules for Crazy 8s. It’s essentially the same game, but with different cards.
If you’re playing by yourself or online, though, Uno Free is a pretty solid app. We didn’t enjoy the cramped controls, but that is probably due to having a tiny phone screen and not a tablet. Still, a more intuitive way to handle your hand would have been nice.
The app itself isn’t the highest quality either. For a game that requires an extra 45 MB download, it sure has awful unoptimized graphics. Between that and a permission set that includes a lot of things that it shouldn’t need (access to contacts and location?), this isn’t a sterling example of app design.
But, it’s free, and it’s Uno. Fans of the card game will have a fun time here, no strings attached.
Download Uno Free
Dominion is pretty much the polar opposite of Uno. Board game geeks have probably played this before. It’s a fun deck-building game that is ultimately an exercise in fast-paced, mindless strategy. Dominion is all about quick play.
The game itself is pretty fun. You play cards to get more cards, which get you more cards which collect victory points. Balancing out money, event cards, and victory points makes for interesting gameplay. Fair warning, unskilled players will probably lose the first few rounds as the CPU doesn’t pull any punches.
This version of the game is a bit disappointing, though. It is very clearly a low-budget effort by one dedicated developer. The whole thing has absolutely no production value or polish. Our biggest annoyance is that there’s no easy way to keep track of what the CPU does. You can see the past turn written out, but this is a terribly awkward solution.
On the other hand, it is pretty nice to play Dominion on an electronic screen. The game reshuffles your deck automatically, something that is normally a huge annoyance with the physical cards. The game board looks pretty nice on the iPad’s screen as well.
Every game of Dominion is different because of the card types. There are maybe twenty sets of cards in the game. However, you only play with a few sets in each round. Dominion for iPad comes with a few preset selections of sets, but unfortunately no option to make your own preset selection. At least you can custom select which sets you’d like.
The best part of Dominion for iPad, though, is the inclusion of online play. The CPU isn’t bad, but other players online are much, much better. We won a few matches online, but it was a much greater challenge. If your iPad has data, this would be great entertainment on the road.
Despite the low-budget nature of Dominion for iPad, we really enjoyed it. The app is an acceptable version of a fun game, and that’s worth playing.
Mahjong Panda is a great example of truth in advertising. It’s traditional Mahjong, but with a panda-sized twist (we apologize for that joke). You have to match tiles to clear the board, like always, but you have to clear specific sets of tiles in order to feed the panda.
It’s a pretty fun game, although you can get really screwed over. That panda is one single-minded creature when it wants a certain set. If the set the panda wants is unreachable, you’re screwed because the animal never changes its mind.
Still, Mahjong players looking for something new should give this a look.
Play Mahjong Panda
Do you like to play board games? If so, do you like the collection of games that we have this week? Share your thoughts in the comments below.