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iPad Game Review: Tsuro for iOS Review
      #49364 - 04/26/16 07:38 PM

Tsuro for iOS is a digital adaptation of the board game (Android version also available). Gameplay consists of laying down tiles in front of your stone to create a path. These tiles are drawn randomly each turn from the deck, and every player can only have 4 tiles in their hand at a time. Each tile that is played creates multiple paths. Some connect to nothing and are immediately useless. Others will connect to your path, sending your stone into motion as it advances to its new farthest point. Others, however, will connect to other players' paths, advancing their stones, sending them into trouble, or eliminating them outright. The winner (in the standard game, at least) is the one who can avoid being pushed off the board. If no more plays are available and multiple players are still in the game, the one with the longest path is victorious. There are also three additional game modes if you find yourself getting bored with the main game: Longest Path, Loop Battle, and Solo Mode.



While the phrase "easy to learn, difficult to master" is wildly overused when describing board games, it actually applies perfectly to Tsuro. While the mechanics of gameplay, and even the basic strategies are immediately obvious, new players will learn quickly that even against the most dim-witted AI opponent, victory will require the ability to play strategically and plan ahead. Even at its highest level, Tsuro doesn't approach the strategic depth of many other board games. This is not a failing, however, but an intentional design choice, and one that works quite well. It gives it a great pick-up-and-play feel that is perfect for mobile, and the light strategy means you can enjoy it even in the most distracting of environments (also perfect for mobile).



Tsuro offers three different levels of AI opponents, pass-and-play multiplayer, and cross-platform online play via Facebook. I found the AI to be quite capable, and pass-and-play to be a hoot. I especially liked the ability to take a quick selfie within the game that is visible next to each player name. I can't, however, write about the cross-platform online multiplayer because I'm not on Facebook. I've read a lot of hateful customer reviews on the App Store regarding this feature, however, I find that I can't really blame Thunderbox for using it because it is literally the only cross-platform solution available. Yes, Game Center works most of the time for this kind of thing, but it doesn't work at all on Android, which is Apple's failing and nobody else's. That being said, I'd like to see them do something about the jarringly out of place pop-up that covers the board at the end of every game asking you if you want to share your victory on Facebook or Twitter. Sort of like being forced to watch Schindler's List outtakes right as the film ends.



Graphically, Tsuro is outstanding. Almost everything is flat-out gorgeous (see previous paragraph). The stones slide along their paths smoothly, the tiles go into and out of play with a swirling flourish, and the isometric game board view allows you to see the sand of the beautiful Zen Garden in which you're playing. The only thing missing is the ability to rake the sand myself. Unfortunately, there are some concessions that must be made when you go with anything but an overhead two-dimensional view. First of all, there is a lot of wasted space. Yes, the sand is beautiful, but being able to see the sand, makes the game smaller. Second, the isometric view means that it can be difficult to trace the path your stone will take when you play a tile.

Lastly, the sound effects and in-game music of Tsuro are fantastic. I love the sound of the stones scraping as they travel along their paths, and the music is headphone-worthy. This is high praise coming from somebody who usually scrambles to disable all in-game music before even playing a tutorial.



Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: - 5 - Beautiful. Even to a fault.
Sound: - 5 - Equally beautiful, but with no compromises.
Controls: - 5 - The interface is hidden so well that you feel like you're manipulating actual game pieces.
Gameplay: - 4 - A great light strategy game that some may find too light. Could use a better online multiplayer solution.

Playing Hints and Tips:

Stay away from the edges, if at all possible. Trace all possible paths before you play a tile. If you leave an opponent a way to take you off the board, they will.

App Facts:

Developer: Tunderbox Entertainment
Release Date: February 3, 2016
Price: $4.99
Buy App: Tsuro

Reviewed by Tom Slayton







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Check out our full list of iPhone/iPod touch game and app reviews:
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