Scrabble

Review – EA Board Games for iPad

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EA Board Games: I love board games. I started playing Scrabble with my family when I was six. Since then, I’ve played just about every board game known to man, including the game of Law School — which everybody but me hated, but I fancied myself quite the legal jargonist back then.

So when I wanted to play board games on the go, it meant owning travel versions — which were often clunky and had tiny pieces prone to falling out and sliding under the front seat.

Now, the iPad has changed all that. Several companies have started making iPad board games for easy and affordable gameplay on the go. This includes Electronic Arts, which has taken several of its most popular board games and modernized them for the iPad. However, this begs the question: Are they still as fun?

So I decided to try out five of EA’s board game iPad apps; to find out whether or not they worked on the iPad, not only as travel games but also as games in general — to determine how fun they are compared to the real thing.

Since all the games used touchscreen controls to spin the wheel or roll the dice, these reviews are about the experience of playing the games, not how to use the mechanics. 

Monopoly HD for iPad

I was 50-50 about this one. On one hand, I felt the graphics on the game were exceptional and the solo play was decently entertaining. It did have a Tabletop Mode that worked all right, but when you have four or more players around a single iPad with a tiny board even smaller than the screen size, it could get a little hard to read.

However, this was one of the games that really misses on not having real game pieces and money. There’s just something special about holding a property in one hand and a few thousand Monopoly monies in the other — especially when you get to rub it in someone else’s face. I’m not going to cry and leave the room because Grammy bought Park Place when playing on the iPad. It’s just not the same.

Overall, I give this one a six out of 10; meaning I’d recommend it for travel use, but not for full-on gameplay.

Here’s an App Store link for Monopoly HD; it’s currently priced at $9.99.

Trivial Pursuit: Master Edition

This game is another one that misses out on having physical things to hold, but primarily because I’m not very smart. When playing the original board game, the friend next to you who read the trivia question also had the answer. That way, if you’re not a trivia buff like my Aunt Paula, that friend could maybe give you a hint or two. In the iPad version, there are no hints. You simply know it or you don’t. This would be great for trivia fanatics; but for people like me who only pretend to know the answers on Jeopardy, it can be a little flustering.

Other than that, this game is well executed. Tabletop mode is small, like Monopoly, but the clever use of highlighting pieces and paths the player can take makes things a little easier to see. Solo play is pretty boring, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re trying to beef up your overall trivia knowledge

I give this game eight out of 10; meaning I’d recommend it for both travel use and full-on gameplay, but it’s still not as good as the original.

Here’s an App Store link for Trivial Pursuit: Master Edition; it’s currently priced at $2.99.

Risk HD

This was my least favorite game transition to the iPad; it just doesn’t work. The whole point of the game is total world domination, but when that world is a tiny map on an iPad and you can only use Pass and Play with it, it loses much of that luster. In addition, I love nothing more than to have a huge blob of soldiers, horses and cannons ready to start an attack: However, in this version there’s simply one soldier with an army total stamped onto the base. Overall gameplay was confusing and the execution was frustrating.

The only advantage this game has is portability. When in the middle of a heated multi-day game of Risk, this one can’t be knocked over by an annoyed stranger who’s shouting “Ukraine not weak!” in the middle of a subway car. If you haven’t seen Seinfeld, go watch it now.

I give this game three out of 10; meaning it works and you can take it on travels, but that doesn’t make it fun.

Here’s an App Store link for Risk HD; it’s currently priced at $6.99.

The Game of Life HD

This game would be great for a family road trip. It’s suitable for all ages, and the Pass and Play is actually pretty fun here because players in The Game of Life don’t directly interact with one another. They’re simply going from college to retirement, experiencing several pitfalls along the way and trying to make lots of money. You can also use Party Mode, which has players sitting around the iPad. Both options work very well. Solo play is surprisingly effective too; again, because you’re simply going from Point A to Point B.

If I were to nitpick and say one thing I didn’t like, it’s the fact that the game assumes you’re straight when you’re getting married. Now, I myself am a straight person, but it’s not fair to assume every other person playing The Game of Life is. I know EA probably thinks it would be too scandalous to add homosexuality into a family game, but I wish this game would take that extra step and be okay with every type of family lifestyle.

I give this game nine out of 10; meaning I’d recommend  it for both travel use and full-on gameplay, but it still has a flaw I couldn’t look past.

Here’s an App Store link for The Game of Life HD; it’s currently priced at $6.99.

Scrabble for iPad

I love this version more than the traditional travel version; might I say I almost love it more than the traditional board game. Whoever designed Scrabble HD knew what he or she was doing. In addition to creating a well-executed iPad version of the popular word game, it also took things a step further and added the iPhone Scrabble Tile Rack; a free app you can download to your iPhone that will literally act as your tile rack.

You simply swipe your letters from your tile rack to the game board, and like magic they appear in your iPad tray, ready to be used. This allows players to keep their letters private, and adds that extra dose of fun interaction to the game that all the other ones were missing. The game also features Pass and Play, Local Network Play and Play Facebook Friends, all of which are great options.

I know a lot of people are fans of Words With Friends, mainly because it’s free, but I do highly recommend giving Scrabble HD on the iPad a try. It’s the most successful iPad board game transition I’ve found so far.

I give this game 10 out of 10; meaning I’d recommend it for both travel use and full-on gameplay, and found it to be without any flaws or problems. It’s the perfect iPad board game.

Here’s an App Store link for Scrabble for iPad; it’s currently priced at $9.99.

Disclosure: All the apps were independently purchased by the post author in the iPad App Store. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.


Beth Elderkin

Beth Elderkin is an award-winning multimedia journalist currently working as a news producer in Austin, Texas. She's been a game reviewer for iPad Insight since 2011, and also runs a gaming blog at easymodego.tumblr.com.

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4 thoughts on “Review – EA Board Games for iPad”

  1. I had two problems with the Trivial Pursuit (which I tried on the iPhone, not the iPad, so I don’t know how different it is): 1) a very, very limited selection of questions, unless you buy extra question packs. 2) The reverse of your problem: the questions were given in multiple choice format, so rather than either knowing it or not (as in the real game as we played it), you are given a lot of help through the options available.

  2. The big problem with Scabble is that the dictionary is very US centric. If you were educated outside the US it doesn’t work. Adding dictionary options would help.

  3. I have to agree with the writer here about the flaw with The Game of Life. It automatically assumes that I am straight and not an animal lover. And here I thought the times had changed. Smh

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