|Multiplayer:||Yes, pass'n'play and online|
|AI:||no, but there is a single player puzzle mode|
|Purchase for iPhone:||
THE aMAZEing Labyrinth
|Purchase for iPad:||
THE aMAZEing Labyrinth HD
GD Star RatingThe aMAZEing Labyrinth,
Celebrating its 25th year as a physical board game, Ravensburg announced the release of the iOS version of this game. Though it might look like a game that is geared towards kids (and it will certainly appeal to them) there is actually a good level of complexity that means adult audiences will find it engaging as well.
Audiences who are not familiar with this piece of gaming history will need to know the following:
You represent a wizard within a maze. Your goal is to acquire treasure! To do so, you must manipulate a grid of tiles by sliding them orthogonally. Each time you do this, a tile is pushed off the edge of the grid and the spare one is placed at the end of that moved column or row. This means that with each move, the removed piece becomes the spare piece for the next move. Each turn, you will attempt to slide a row or column and then move your wizard to any square that is connected to where he or she is at that point. Through these tactics you attempt to manipulate your piece to the treasure points. It’s that simple.
On one hand, there are certain significant limitations to the strategy of the game. It is almost impossible to anticipate future moves – since your opponents target treasure is hidden from you, there are no clear indicators where your opponent wishes to move.
Even if you suspect the likely course of movement, the layout is such that it would be difficult to predict their optimal move. This means that turn by turn you are effectively attempting the best move given the current configuration before you.
On the other hand, even given these constraints there is still enough choice that you have some strategy during that move. It is unlikely that most of your moves will provide a clear direct route to your prize, and consequently you will have to try and use any move to open up a corridor that will get you closer in the future, or potentially line you up for a quick run next turn. However, since it is possible for pieces to get locked up by walls (such that it will take a number of turns to find a way in), you might have a few false starts. Additionally, the plane geometry of the grid wraps around. If you have a wizard pushed off one end of the board, they will be placed on the square just being placed. This means you can teleport from one side of the board to the other, or send your foe far from their own prize.
The developers have done a good job, meaning that this game will provide you with ample entertainment… save for one important omission. They have multiplayer support, and even online multiplayer support, but they don’t really have an AI opponent to substitute for a real person. Once again, lack of AI is one of the big three things that can kill an iPad game (for those who’ve been playing along at home the other two are lack of pass’n’play multiplayer, and lack of tutorial).
I think I am in the majority when I express an aversion for playing against strangers on my iPad. I like to know the person I’m competing against, partly because then I can personalise that sense of joy I get from crushing them with victory! However, considering that there are large number of people who are quite happy with competing against other players online (or possibly even have a network of friends with iPads – you clique of Apple fans), this may not be as big an impediment for this game as the other big two.
Instead, they provide a series of pre-fabricated set ups that are effectively puzzles (a single player puzzle-mode campaign, if you like). You must reach the sole treasure in a specific number of moves. There is only one optimal solution that will get your moves below par. This is actually rather interesting for me. For one, it is kind of like a training session, which requires you to logically think about how your moves will unfold and affect your future moves. So it’s a great compliment for the normal game of the Labyrinth. However, this is not a substitute for being able to play the regular game with AI. Perhaps in trying to go down the route of only developing AI when they prove popular, they’ve decided to throw us a bone with the puzzle format.
I should state that while there isn’t a tutorial, the rules of the game are simple enough that the instructions provided in game are sufficient to orient a new player into the game. I’ve never really played the game before, but the instructions were easy, and beyond that the game is actually quite intuitive because you can visually see the direct result of your actions.
6/10: I can’t see myself spending large amounts of time on this game, but that might be because I have games more suited to my tastes along the lines of the heavyweight euro games.
That being said, this would be a great choice to entertain kids with- and casual gamers will be sure to find some reward in this game.
[Editors note: It’s commendable to see a family brand such as Ravensburg bringing more classic games to the iPad and enriching the genre. This game certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste though, and perhaps not for the hardcore audience]