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iPad  header logo

Abalone


For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Put some mussel into it

Product: Abalone | Developer: Advanced Mobile Applications | Publisher: Bulkypix | Format: iPad | Genre: Card/ board game | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Abalone iPad, thumbnail 1
Besides being named after an edible sea mollusc, Abalone is notable for being that rare classically-styled board game that hasn't been flogged within an inch of its life through endless digital interpretations.

Like some kind of bizarre mash-up of Othello and sumo wrestling, the original game is a unique mix of lengthy strategic manoeuvring and odd moments of controlled aggression.

But let's swoop in with an obvious frontal attack and ask: does Abalone make for a good iOS and Android game?

What a load Abalone

Each round of Abalone provides you with a hexagonal game board filled with divots for placing your coloured marbles in. It's black versus white, with the object - as ever - being to remove your opponent's playing pieces from the board.

There's an extra dimension of physicality here, as you literally (well, in a digital sense) shove these playing pieces off the end of the board with your own.

You can push opposing pieces back only when you have a numerical advantage - so a line of three of your pieces can push back one or two of your opponent's

In order to line up these crafty shoves you can move each marble one space. In a further tactical consideration, you can move adjacent marbles at the same time, as if they were one unit.

Retreating into its shell

The rules are incredibly simple, then, but there's a high degree of strategy to be employed within these limits - if not exactly variation.

You'll learn that holding the centre ground is nearly always preferable, and that - as with warfare - it's best if you divide and conquer.

One issue that arose with the original Abalone boardgame was the potential to consistently stalemate even a top class player. While you probably won't encounter that technique too often here due to the various scenarios of the single-player mode and the variety of starting positions in two-player mode, it is reflective of the game's inherently cautious mechanics.

The pace rarely varies as you shift through the same gears and learned techniques every time, which instantly makes the game feel somehow limited. There's a level editor, too, if that kind of thing floats your boat.

Still, if you're a fan of minimalistic boardgames that require methodical planning and lateral thinking, Abalone is more than just a hollow shell.
 
Abalone
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 3 April 2013
A stripped back conversion of a strategically challenging if one-paced boardgame, Abalone isn't up there with the classics, but it is a worthy alternative
 
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