|Multiplayer:||Yes, via GameCenter or pass n play|
|AI:||Yes, 20 (!) levels|
|Universal App:||Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)|
|Purchase for iPhone:||Use link below to purchase universal app|
|Purchase for iPad:||
Catchup - Abstract Strategy
GD Star RatingCatchup,
Abstract strategy games, by definition, focus on gameplay to the exclusion of all else, and that gameplay tends to be simple, deep, and in the best cases, well-presented. Does Catchup make the cut?
Missing a golden opportunity for burger puns, Catchup is all about controlling spaces on a hex-shaped board.
The first player claims a single hex, and thereafter each player grabs up to two hexes. In the upper left corner, a meter keeps track of the largest contiguous group each player controls. This is important because if either player places a hex such that it connects to the largest contiguous group on the board, the following player may place up to three hexes.
Tapping a hex you’ve already placed will undo the move, up until the point that you commit by tapping the Finish Turn button. When the entire hex board is filled, the size of contiguous groups is compared. The player with the largest contiguous group wins; if the two largest groups tie, the next size is then compared, and so on until there’s a winner.
There isn’t a whole lot to this game mechanically, though the uneven turn mechanic creates some interesting strategic options. What is here, however, has absolutely top-notch presentation.
One of the most interesting features of Catchup is an adaptive AI – as you win games, the AI steadily gets cranked up to a higher level, the goal being to provide you with an evolving challenge as you learn the game’s finer strategic points, though you can override this setting and put it at any of 20 levels if you prefer. Multiplay is also possible, either asynchronously via GameCenter or locally via pass n play.
Though there isn’t much to the game mechanically, there is a fully interactive tutorial that steps you through it, as well as discussing strategy briefly. The rules are also accessible during play – this technically puts the game into pause mode, but it can be easily resumed from the main menu.
Presentation is top notch. The game features a variety of color schemes, all of which compliment the minimalist design which, in turn, compliments the minimalist design of the game. The soft, classical-esque music seems more appropriate here than most game music tends to, and the game also keeps track of all the stats a geekishly obsessive abstract fan could want.
If abstracts are your thing, Catchup is one of the good ones. Though minimalist in design, what’s there has been polished to a gleam. It’s the rare app that gets everything right – the game won’t be to all tastes, but fans of abstracts should catch this one as soon as they can.