(DSiWare)

Game Review

Pocket Pack: Strategy Games Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

Smart move

The previous entry in the Pocket Pack series, Words and Numbers, combined Sudoku, anagrams and more into a package that was perhaps too familiar to make much impact in the DSiWare ranks. Now the second compilation, titled Strategy Games, has arrived on DSiWare, and it's a far better combination than its predecessor.

The five games on offer this time are Checkers (also known as Draughts), Chinese Checkers, Nine Men's Morris, Gomoku and Reversi, most of which will be familiar to fans of board games and strategy games in general. Although they all share some characteristics, each is different enough to be worth a look.

All the titles can be set up to play in multiple rounds, with player versus CPU or hotseat play available for each. Three games offer variations on board layout and size too, and if you're unsure of the rules at any time then pressing X will bring up the Operations Guide to give you a quick refresher.

The CPU intelligence in each game is very good, posing a challenge even on medium with the easy and hard difficulties opening up the game to other abilities. Each game is playable in single machine hotseat mode, with Chinese Checkers supporting up to six players passing the machine around, with transitional screens telling you who's next as well as shielding the previous player's move until the new player is ready. If you don't fancy finding your friends' fingerprints all over your DSi, each game lets you beam a version of the game to another machine via Download Play, and there's support for players with individual copies of the game via Wireless Play too.

There are other welcome features included too, such as an autosave function that lets you save a match in progress for each one of the five games. This even works for hotseat matches, letting you resume against a friend later, though starting a new game will overwrite the existing save. If you're only playing solo, the lifespan is extended not only by the tough AI but by the inclusion of a trophy to be won for each game, although there are no tiered trophies sadly.

It's unlikely any entries in the Pocket Pack series will win any graphical awards, with a spartan style that borders on the plain. It's uncluttered at least, with the top screen displaying scores with the touchscreen devoted to the board at hand. The music veers between irritating and inoffensive, but can at least be switched off if you like.

Conclusion

Pocket Pack: Strategy Games is a more welcome addition to the DSiWare stable than its predecessor as it brings something fresh to the table: most of these games are new to the service, and although the graphics and sound won't wow you the tough artificial intelligence, autosave, Download Play and trophies help to beef up Strategy Games into a good package for anyone who fancies a sit down with something cerebral.

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User Comments (5)

MoFaJo

#1

MoFaJo said:

Yeah, I don't really think graphics and sound matter much with games like this. Either way it looks pretty good!

ejamer

#2

ejamer said:

Pretty simple games... but all classics for a reason. I really like seeing board games (new or classics) get conversions like this.

Accela

#3

Accela said:

Yeah me too, as long as they look pretty. I can't stand checkers unless my eyes are being visually stimulated. This game's graphics do a good job of this. ♥

lOnE-WolF

#4

lOnE-WolF said:

Sounds like solid DSiWare. Definately gonna save 500 of my points for this :D

I personally like the "spartan" presentations as well as the more artsy styling seen in the Art Style series - both are clear, uncluttered, and visually pleasing.

Victoria

#5

Victoria said:

Thanks for the review. I downloaded this yesterday and it's not too bad. I like playing Chinese Checkers so this looked interesting to me. One thing I hadn't considered though is how small the board would be! No complaints about it, but it is quite small for my poor eyes. (Another reason to wish for a DSi XL.)

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