Apr 20, 2010

IQ Knights - Dice Chess

I keep planning on reviews of certain games and then do some sort of search/browse on the Market only to get sidetracked with other great (and not so great) games. Today it's another title from one of my favorite Android developers: HandyGames. My next three reviews will be Asphalt, Radiant, and Magnetic Sports Soccer... please hold me to that.

IQ Knights is a different game and that matches the fact that HandyGames seems to develop innovative titles. Panzer Panic is an excellent arcade game and infeCCT is an outstanding puzzle game. IQ Knights follows in the footsteps of infeCCt and is another puzzle game, but is not without its flaws.

For a start, the idea is that you control dice on a board and have to capture the kings. That's about where the relevance of the 'chess' part of the game's title ends. A die moves based on the number it is currently showing and when moving it can only change direction once. As it 'rolls' the facing number changes so not only are you planning your current move, but also the number that will be showing for your next move and so forth. The game then adds enemy dice, platforms that 'change' the field of play, shackled dice... etc. It's substantially more complicated that infeCCt which I thought was a bit too easy.

The challenge I have with the game is that it's not natural, at least not for me, to know that as I 'roll' a die what the facing number is going to be making planning ahead difficult. The game does show an 'on screen' die, but one of the sides is difficult to see not to mention it's a slow and tedious 'trial and error' process trying to accomplish what I want. I think this could have been far better done by allowing a die to be clicked on and then having the display show me when all possible spaces that I could move to along with a faded image of the facing of the die. Such a mechanism would help speed things up and take that 'trial and error' process away.

The game offers an excellent in game tutorial that explains the game's rules, but also some basics such as the fact that the opposite sides of a six-sided die always add up to seven to help with figuring out moves. And the sound track is of some music similar in nature to infeCCt's in that it's both beautiful and relaxing.

Another challenge I'm having is that HandyGames doesn't seem to update their games. If you look Panzer Panic sits ignored still at a version 1.0 with a low download count after many suggestions being provide in Market comments. InfeCCT made it to 1.0.1, but probably because of some bug, and has an even worse download count. I can't help but think that a monthly update would not only improve their games, but would also put their games back on the 'recently released' list and increase exposure. I hope they haven't decided to solely focus on the iPhone. Oddly enough I don't see a mention of this game on Handy's home page... I had to search on their site to find out about it.

IQ Knights is a neat and innovative little game done with the usual class and style that HandyGames is becoming known for. At the same time I think this is going to take a harder core puzzle enthusiast to appreciate it... in other words try infeCCt first and then one you've made a dent in it consider moving on to this one. The iPhone trailer is below for your viewing pleasure. 4/5 stars.

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