Two iPhone Games – Ruzzle and Take It Easy

Today, here are two quick reviews of iPhone games I’ve played recently.

RuzzleRuzzle is a 2-player Boggle-like game played over the internet. Each person tries to find words on the same board of letters, though not necessarily at the same time, and compares their score. It has an intensity that Boggle doesn’t have, partly due to the short two-minute time limit on each round, and partly because the board has letter and word multipliers similar to Scrabble. This makes scoring a little more varied from round to round, but it’s also a fun, quick fix. The available multipliers increase over the game’s three rounds, keeping the game interesting even if one person gets an early lead.

The banner ads on the main screen plus full-page ads, sometimes with video and delays, between each round, really interfere with that simple Boggle-on-steroids rush. There is a premium ad-free option, but I don’t see much reason to pay for it since my friends have given up on the game. Notifications about your turn can be inconsistent, and if you go a couple days without thinking to check you’ll forfeit. (I’ve found this game is best for matches against random opponents, because then you’ll both want to play through quickly. This isn’t good for that Words With Friends experience of challenging a friend, since the waiting isn’t fun. With only a few rounds, and only being able to play one round ahead of your opponent, it has a weird flow.) Even worse, when my games have been interrupted by a phone call, I was kicked out of the round with a zero score.

All together, this is almost a very fun game.

Grade: C+

Take It EasyTake It Easy is a puzzle game in which you line up hexagonal tiles on a board. Each has three numbered lines, and the goal is to make unbroken lines across the board. Each of the three directions has only three possible numbers, so there will be plenty of possible matches, but there’s no way to handle all the intersecting lines at once without blocking some of the possibilities.

The design makes all the chaotic pieces easy to follow, with lines sparkling when they score and fading out if there is no way for them to complete. Even so, the basic game, a solitaire experience of receiving and placing one tile at a time, is pretty boring. Reiner Knizia did it better with Robot Master, which felt less chaotic due to its simple two directions and knowledge that tiles came from a “deck”, so you can consider the odds of what the next tile will be. Being a Knizia game, that also had more interesting scoring. This one gives you the points for the number times the number of tiles in that line. Obviously, the key is to focus on 8s and 9s and ignore the 1s and 2s.

Despite that, Take It Easy manages to succeed through its eagerness to do everything possible with its system. In addition to that basic game, there are Progressive and Puzzle versions, as well as several options for multi-player games. I didn’t find the Progressive version that appealing; It’s just the standard game played over multiple rounds with increasing target scores and a few new obstacles. But the Puzzles change things up by giving you a full board in which you need to swap tiles around. It isn’t especially original, but the game is more fun without the random solitaire aspect, and there are many different puzzle goals (from points to creating lines with specific numbers or in a specific position). With multi-player, every person plays the same game and competes to either get the high score or finish first. Even the standard game becomes a little more interesting as part of a competition.

It’s not ground-breaking or addictive, but Take It Easy is worth coming back to from time to time.

Grade: B-

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