Wednesday 4 April 2018

Classic Compendium (Gizmondo review)

Developer: AI Factory
Publisher: Gizmondo Games
Released: 2005

Classic Compendium is a collection of five popular Western board games.

The games on offer are Chess, Backgammon, Checkers, Reversi and Four in a Line, and each has a range of options including board colours, backdrops and the style of the pieces. The menus are basic but intuitive, and each game plays well with responsive controls. I like that you're shown all available moves when you select a piece, and likewise, you can even choose to accept a hint if you're struggling. A neat feature is the ability to climb the rankings for each game and your progress can be saved along the way; this gives you added motivation to keep coming back until you head-up the leaderboard. What's also nice is that Checkers allows you to play under either U.K. or U.S. rules which dictate whether you're forced to implement a particular move when a piece is available to be taken. While this compilation features a rule book, it would have been beneficial to include a playable tutorial for each board in order to ease the pain for newcomers; as it stands the learning curve is fun, yet steep and it's not helped by the A.I. which is brutally advanced, even at Level 1! Presentation wise, the game certainly isn't a looker and it's unfortunate that no 3D boards or animations were included to take advantage of the hardware; in fact, it's almost as if each one was originally developed for touch-screen devices and then hastily ported over to the Gizmondo. At least the ambient music does a terrific job of creating a soothing atmosphere without distracting you too much.

Classic Compendium features good value for money and the large selection of games and options will keep you playing for a while. It's a shame that the difficulty isn't more balanced though, as those without at least an intermediate understanding of each board game will be repeatedly destroyed by the aggressive CPU!

Random trivia: A sequel called Classic Compendium 2 was also released in 2005.

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