Electronic Arts’ partnership with Nokia doesn’t seem to be coming to an end any time soon, as the recent rush of releases for the Lumia range of phones will attest. The Xbox branded Yahtzee may not sound like a handset seller, especially given that it’s already been made available for iOS devices under the name Yahtzee Adventure, but adding another casual title to the rapidly expanding catalogue is unlikely to have a negative impact.
Of course, Yahtzee doesn’t rewrite the mobile gaming rulebook. But then, it never intends to do so: it’s a tidy virtual representation of a dice throwing game. The presentation is pleasant, the inclusion of Xbox LIVE Achievements and leaderboards the benefit of Windows Phone adaptation and the customisability typically expected of a modern videogame production. Good, expected and welcome, but there’s no negativity attached to this release.
For the uninitiated, Yahtzee (aka Waterloo) is a dice throwing game in which players must attempt to fill a score sheet with the biggest numbers possible. There are two rows of scores: upper and lower. The upper scores are simple matches (roll as many of the same number as possible and enter their total) while the lower scores are special combinations (straights, full house etc.). Players each get three rolls of five dice, taking out of play any they wish to keep. For example, should you roll two fives and two fours on the first throw you may wish to go for a full house, however if the fifth die was a three you may instead attempt to go for a straight. It’s as much a game of foresight as it is luck, with the most insightful players able to plan their decisions based on probability two-or-three throws ahead.
Here in the Windows Phone edition of Yahtzee Electronic Arts offer more than the standard arrangement, or course. In addition to the Classic mode Yahtzee presents Rainbow, Duplicate and Battle. Rainbow throws coloured dice into the mix, with new full house and five-of-a-kind options added to the score sheet, while Duplicate sees all players given the exact same rolls and determining the winner by way of decision making; whoever predicted the highest probability of subsequent rolls will most likely win. Battle is a more interesting addition, with players able to knock down one another’s health (starting at 100 points) with lower scores and regain their own with upper scores.
As far as virtual adaptations of traditional game experiences go, there are far worse releases on mobile handsets than Electronic Arts’ Yahtzee. The price (sitting at £2.29 GBP at the time or writing) is arguably the biggest barrier for entry, with many other equally entertaining titles available for the handset for a fraction of that price, but the amount of polish in the presentation of Yahtzee is arguably it’s bargaining hand, and for that there’s few titles that can claim to match the standard on display here without over complicating matters.