Oct 14, 2010

Lock 'n' Roll

When I was a youngster we used to vacation in Canada every year in a fairly isolated place on a lake. While the swimming was fun there was always the question of what to do on a rainy day. One game I became acquainted with was Poker Squares. In Poker Squares you shuffle a deck of cards and play them one by one from the top of the deck onto a 5x5 grid. Once you've played 25 cards you get points for each row, column, and diagonal based on the poker hands you make and you compete with yourself to earn higher scores. Lock 'n' Roll does something similar to this with dice.

In Lock 'n' Roll you roll four dice... well, actually you don't as color is one of the attributes that can appear and only the numbers 1-4 are available. Instead you press a roll button and get four dice each with a number and color (and there are four of each) and you play them onto a 4x4 grid. After you've played your dice you press Roll again at which time scoring occurs and you get a net set of dice to play. Scoring is done by looking for combinations on the board such as 'all of one color' or 'two pair' or 'one of each color AND of each number'. Some combinations 'clear' which means after scoring is completed the associated dice are removed from the board. This is critically important as once you fill the board with combinations that do not clear your game ends so you need to keep clearing combos in order to rack up higher scores. You can also earn joker (aka wild card) dice after scoring preset amounts of points, but when a joker is used to complete a combo it reduces the combo's score. The game has a nice tutorial and reference page (that can be accessed while playing). My only complaint with the instructions is that I can't find a list of where the dice can be played to form a scoring set. It appears that in addition to horizontal, vertical, and diagonal rows that all 2x2 squares are eligible as are the four dice in the corners.

The graphics are simple and the sounds consist of pleasing tones during scoring and such. Controls are all touch screen based and involve pressing buttons and dragging dice. I didn't have any problems whatsoever with controlling the game. Furthermore, dice are not locked into position until you click 'Roll' again so if one was to stray you can always grab and reposition it.

qrcodeLock 'n' Roll is a game that's simple to play, but takes time to improve at. Some might look at this as a 'luck of the roll' game as surely you will create situations that depend on rolling specific results. I prefer to look at it as a luck management game. What's going to give me the best odds of success? It also takes time to memorize the combinations that score and the locations that tally points. Even now, I sometimes get that bonus combo that I didn't plan on. The idea of clearing dice is what really make this game so much better than Poker Squares as it yields the possibility of infinite scores. Finally, I tend to use my jokers up way too fast. Save them for when you're in a jam.

The game comes in a free version with ads and a paid version that includes global leader boards and eliminates the advertising. The QR Code to the left is for the free version which is what I've been playing, but as usual, if you find yourself playing this for over an hour then I'd say you owe it to the developer to buy the full one whether you want the extras or not.

In conclusion, this is an entertaining dice game similar to that game I played on vacation several decades ago, but with more going on. It's a rush to keep the game going and earn a new high score, but I'm glad there's a free version as this isn't the next Tetris (i.e. it's not for everybody). Some will be frustrated and stammer away claiming 'bad rolling'. While bad rolls are par for the course in any dice game it's not the 'be all and end all' as that won't happen in every game. 4/5 stars for a great game to play on the train to work.

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