|Multiplayer:||Pass N' Play|
|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:||
GD Star RatingZombie Dice,
Steve Jackson might be most famous for his classic, award-winning Munchkin series, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a huge library of other games to his name. Zombie Dice is another digital adaptation of a game that you might find near the checkout counter of Barnes and Nobles or your local game shop, a small title with a focus on fast gameplay and player interaction. The big question is, does the magic of the physical version translate well to unlife on iOS?
Zombie Dice is a game for up to 8 players and, as you could probably tell from the title, is dice-rolling game with a zombie theme. But, rather than playing as plucky zombie slayers, you take on the role of the voracious flesh-eaters yourselves. The unlucky humans are represented in the dice you roll, with a handful of green, yellow, and red dice that represent tiers of hunters. Greens are the least experienced survivors, the fodder, yellows are the smarter, faster humans, and reds represent the toughest of the tough, ex-military types and the like. As such, the symbols on the dice correspond to the level of difficulty associated with each color.
Each die has a number of symbols on it, signaling if you ate the victim, if the human ran away, or if the human fought back and gave you a shotgun blast to the face. Every zombie gets three dice per roll, and you can either keep rolling until your head gets blown off after three shots or decide to stop voluntarily. It takes at most a minute or two to fully grasp how the game works, and once you do you’re off and into a fast-paced game of eating the helpless living.
Strategy in the game comes from assessing risk and knowing when to back out, but like most Steve Jackson games, there’s a limit to how much you can really rely on strategy. Zombie Dice is the very definition of a dice fest, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing by any means. It’s a fast game, and does a good job of giving you that thrill of pure risk in every throw, but the very draw of the game also ends up being its greatest weakness. The nature of its pick-up-and-play design philosophy means that this game is best played with friends. There is an option to play with AI zombies, every one of them humorously named, but the real interplay and amusement comes from having your friends sitting around, egging them on to either roll one more time and press their luck or to stop rolling when they otherwise should just go for it.
Now, the biggest issue with the free version (the one played for this review) is that it does not have any kind of human multiplayer component. If you want to play Zombie Dice as it was meant to be played, you will need to shell out some cash and support Steve Jackson’s company. There’s always a link on screen directing you to purchase the full version of the game, or to go even further and purchase the actual physical copy of Zombie Dice. It’s a question that needs to be asked, whether or not the digital version of a classic game is really worth it, but in this case the question seems to be thrown in your face. It further raises the question as to whether this kind of game is really as enjoyable in a digital format compared to its physical counterpart. Is the feeling of an iPhone or iPad in your hand comparable to a handful of dice, does it alter that irrational part of your brain in the same way putting real dice in the hands of gambler suddenly sharpens their mind? I no longer have a physical copy of Zombie Dice, and so I cannot answer that question.
Graphics are pretty bare for this kind of game, which is to be expected. If anything, there’s too much screen real estate on even the iPhone, with space near the top taken up by a long text header, a giant animation of a zombified hand rolling dice in the center of the screen, and a big grinning zombie face in the top right hand corner. There aren’t many bells and whistles, but it’s adequate for a game whose lifeblood comes from being a quick, fun multiplayer experience.
What I do know is that I had a tremendous amount of immediate fun with Zombie Dice, and I played it for a good 20 minutes before I moved on to something a little more substantial. A friend of mine once said that a part of Steve Jackson’s appeal lay in the fact that while his games weren’t really the deepest or the most complex, they were always presented as a fine product. They used good materials when printing, the rules were easy to grok, and a session could be completed relatively quickly. “Are you bored? Wanna play Zombie Dice?” and suddenly you’ve taken up 15 minutes that might have been wasted sitting around waiting for your friend to set up a more complex game.
What Zombie Dice does raise is a valuable question about what mobile games should be, and what kind of games are best played on mobile. When you have a straight adaptation rather than a re-envisioning of a game, you must ask yourself what exactly is being added to the core experience. You lose the feeling of rolling the dice yourself, and pressing buttons is about as thrilling as pressing the button on a digital roulette.
Overall, the decision to purchase Zombie Dice on iOS is a matter of taste, and whether you believe that a game like this is really best justified on a mobile platform. If you think it is, then by all means, go ahead and pick it up. If not, well, you can pick up the game the next time you go to buy whatever major purchase you’ve settled on at your local game store.
Check out other great games:
- Quick, breakneck pace
- Lots of character, relatively high production value for such a simple game
- Limited to playing AI in the free version
- Lacks a core dimension of the appeal in the physical product