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Hands on with Cranium multiplayer on mobile

EA's fresh take on pass-the-handset gaming

Product: Cranium | Publisher: Electronic Arts | Genre: Card/ board game, Multiplayer
For: Mobile
Cranium Mobile, thumbnail 1
On a recent visit to EA’s swanky London offices we were given a little hands-on time with a near-as-damnit-complete build of Cranium, which is based on the popular board game of the same name.

For those of you scratching your own craniums (crania?) [yes - ed] at the mention of the game, it’s basically a load of the best bits from some of the best social and board games all bundled into one box.

So you have general knowledge questions, charade-like tasks, singing challenges, drawing puzzles, and there's even a lump of plasticine for some creative sculpting.

Of course, some of you will have spotted a bit of a dilemma here. Some of those tasks mentioned would be nigh-on impossible to fit into a videogame format, wouldn’t they?

Well, yes they would. Treating it like a creative Cranium challenge of its own, though, EA has come up with what it believes are all the right answers.

In place of the drawing rounds, for example, it has implemented a set of shape-recognition tasks - so you might be presented with a drawing of half of a shape and asked to determine what it is.

The musical rounds have been replaced with rhythm-action sections, although we didn’t come across any of these during the brief presentation.

That’s mainly because the vast majority of our time was hoovered up by an impromptu session of the game’s multiplayer mode.

This isn’t your average tacked-on multiplayer mode. EA understands that the Cranium boardgame is an inherently social experience (for at least four people) so it has approached the multiplayer mode as a separate entity from the necessarily compromised single player experience.

In essence, the developer has used the phone to replace many of the elements of the boardgame. It provides the questions, times your responses and keeps score. All you need is at least two teams of two and a pen and paper and you have a similarly riotous experience to the original game.

My own game revealed that I was okay with film trivia, but that I struggled with spelling words backwards, particularly when I had to alternate the letters with my quietly exasperated partner.

Not a good show from someone who makes a living out of words, but it was great fun nonetheless.

It really is quite a fresh concept, and even the producers of the game are unsure of how the mode will be received by the mobile gaming public.

We can see it going down a storm during family car journeys and drizzly English holidays, to mention a couple of scenarios, but we’ll reserve our judgement until the review.

Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy 27 February 2009
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