Quick Look: King’s Corners


IMG_0055The simpler the rules, the greater the challenge.  Hey, it may not be Newtonian, but I think we can call this the First Law of Gaming.  The most difficult games to win are always the ones with simple rules which make you say regrettable things like, “this will only take a minute.”  The easy games, on the other hand, tend to be the ones with complex rules and complicated graphics and animation.  So, I suppose it should be taken as a compliment when I say that I have never met a game with simpler rules than King’s Corner.  And, true to what we will now call The First Law of Gaming, it is an incredibly challenging game to win.  Like Brandon said, this is a quick game.  It can take less than a minute to finish a game, yet you will soon find yourself playing for hours and hours…and mostly losing the game.  Simple? Yes.  Easy?   Not so much.

 

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OK, so let’s take a look at how this game is played.  It begins with a blank board, like this.  The twelve spaces around the edges are labeled to represent the twelve picture cards.  Queens on top and bottom, Jacks on the sides, and Kings in each of the four corners (hence the name of the game).  In the center are either six (novice mode) or four (expert mode) blank spaces.   Now, just take that deck of cards on the table there and start dealing.  Place one card in each square.  Placing the cards could not be easier.  Just tap the appropriate box on the screen to send the card into play.  Here are the rules:

  • Number cards (A-10) may be placed anywhere
  • Picture cards must be placed on the corresponding square

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Uhm, yeah.  That is about all.  When the board is filled, put down the deck and remove (again just tap the cards with your finger) as many two card combinations adding up to ten as you can (A-9, 2-8, 3-7, 4-6, 5-5).  Tens maybe removed on their own.  Then, start over again.  The goal is to place all of the picture cards in the correct spaces on the board.  Do that and you win.  If, however, you have a picture card with no corresponding open space, or if the board is filled and no cards can be removed, then the game is over.  Pretty simple.  But just watch the loss column pile up in your stats. 

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OK, so now that you know how the game is played, let’s talk about how well it plays.  The graphics are extremely well done, with two different card faces to choose from.  At first, I wondered why there was no option to select different card backs, but I soon realized that unlike most card games, you never really see the card backs.  This is a unique game in that you deal from a face up deck, rather than face down.  There is even a counter on the bottom to help you keep track of the number of cards yet to be played.

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Another nice touch was the incorporation of Ilium’s new mascot, the little I-guy (as I call him.)  he is everywhere in this game.  See how many times you can spot him throughout the game.

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Likewise, I felt the animation was appropriate for the game.  Too often, developers try to make card games into something more than they really are.  They add 3D graphics and wild animations as the cards flit across the screen.  In my opinion, while such tricks might be appropriate in adventure games, they simply distract me from the point of a card game.  So, I was happy to see that Ilium chose to use a more appropriate approach, with minimal animation that gets the job done, but does not try to do more.

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Between the easy fingertap controls and minimalist animation, this game was a treat to play.  It is so simple, yet deceptively challenging.  When you look at that large, empty board (especially in easy mode), holding that virtual deck of cards in your virtual iPhone hand, it seems like there is no way you could possibly lose.  And then reality sets in and before you know it, the board is nearly full with a Queen on the top of the deck.  The game almost mocks you as it asks, “Play Again?”  It might as well be saying, “Not so easy after all, is it?”  This is a great quick game, which is the perfect distraction for those empty moments during the day.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you when you lose yourself hour after hour, as you mutter, “just one more try.”  The First Law never fails.  The simplest games are always the most ruthlessly challenging.

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What I liked:

  • simple graphics and minimal animation
  • easy game to learn
  • challenging gameplay

What Needs Improvement:  I did not say this earlier, but a timer would be nice to keep track of how long your games take

Where to Buy: iTunes App store.  More information is available at Ilium’s website.

Price: $0.99 (yes that is less than a dollar, so you have no excuse not to buy it)

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