No matter how you dress it up, suggesting that a virtual representation of Connect 4 is a unique selling point of the Nokia Lumia range is a laughable proposition. However, on the surface it would appear that’s exactly what Electronic Arts and Nokia’s partnership amounts to. Dig a little deeper however, and you’ll find that Connect 4 is just one of many partnered releases available exclusively for Nokia Lumia handsets, and that in truth it’s not actually a bad way to pass five minutes.
The standard match type of Connect 4 is present-and-correct of course, playable locally of via wi-fi. Matches can be customised to a limited degree, in terms of which mode you play at least, and will run indefinitely keeping score across all of your matches. Simple and functional, Connect 4 immediately presents that which you would expect from a virtual representation of the likewise simple table game.
The presentation gets more interesting when you take into account the alternative gamplay modes. Cleverly introduced via the Challenge Mode – a series of sixteen progressively difficulty, short and direct objectives – Connect 4 offers Power Chips, Max Score and Pop Out modes in addition to the standard game type. Clearly influenced by the Hasbro Family Game Night titles on console, the alternative modes significantly alter the format but not so much that it feels intrusive.
Power Chips is a gameplay mode in which a variety of new chip types are added to the matches, including Blocker, Bomb and Heavy chips. Blocker prevents your opponent from placing chips in the row it sits for one turn, Bomb explodes chips in the surrounding area and Heavy knocks the chip at the bottom of the row out of play. The matches last three minutes and as players score the connected chips are removed from play, with those above falling into any open spaces. The player with the most points at the end of the time limit wins.
Max Score is essentially the Power Chips mode without any special chips, while Pop Out sees players gifted with the ability to remove a single chip of their own from the bottom row in place of their normal turn. This may seem like a small change, but it dramatically changes your tactical options and demands that you think about your opponents’ potential moves several turns ahead.
The visual design of Connect 4 is functional, but never offers anything worth shouting about; a presentation that is perhaps the essence of the videogame. Of course, you’d be hard pressed to consider Connect 4 a worthwhile endeavour for any serious pastime, but wasting those five minutes at the bus stop or waiting in line at the supermarket has never been easier. Connect 4 is disposable software for the mobile generation, perfectly understanding of its audience.