App O’ the Morning: Yahtzee Adventures

Seriously? A Yahtzee app? Yahtzee? The dice thing?

Yeah, I’m reviewing Yahtzee. Even worse, I’m giving it a positive review. And even worse than that, I’m admitting that, from time to time, I find it pretty darn addictive.

That’s odd, because I never play Yahtzee. In preparing for this review, I sat down with my Yahtzee Elvis: Shake, Rattle and Roll Edition and tried to work up some enthusiasm.

It’s poker! With Dice! And scoring! And chips for … actually, I have no idea what the point of the chips is, but they make a nice rattly sound in the plastic cup of the travel edition.

Annnnd … I just couldn’t continue. The specter of vast amounts of dice-rolling stretched out before me, and I quailed at the prospect. I put the pieces away and set the game on the shelf next to my copy of Monopoly Elvis Collector’s Edition, then went back to separating my drier lint by color, which seemed far more interesting.

But for some reason, I keep coming back to the app, which is called Yahtzee Adventures.

Don’t be fooled by the “Adventures” part, which is a just a hopeless attempt to make it sound like this isn’t a game about rolling dice over and over again. It fails for the simple reason that this is a game about rolling dice over and over again.

The Yahtzee Adventure puts you in the role (hah, get it? get it?! … ehhhh, never mind) of Grasshopper to some guy’s Sensei, and frankly I could not care less. The idea is that you have to “battle” against a series of opponents across the world to unlock secret dice and become some kind of Yahtzee Bruce Lee in a dice-driven Game of Death. Every character is hideously annoying and someone desperately needs to poke Sensei in the eye with a chopstick. The whole regrettable thing can be finished in about an hour. Plus: you never get to use the special dice, which makes you wonder what the point was. Let us never speak of it again.

Moving on from the Adventure part, however, brings us to plain old Yahtzee, and that was really all they needed to do in the first place. You can burn through a game of Yahtzee in about ten minutes flat, either by click-rolling or shaking the iPhone to roll. Scoring and rolling are all done on a single screen, and it all looks good and controls smoothly.

I have no idea why, but I found this so much more entertaining that I ever found real Yahtzee. Maybe it was the speed, which appeals to my ADD, or maybe it was just the ability to do it while waiting at the DMV. It doesn’t take much thought or effort, but has the right combination of chance with a tiniest bit of skill to keep it interesting.

The game includes a few interesting variants to keep things fresh. The “Rainbow” game uses colored dice, with the ability to score an extra set based on rolling all of one color. The “Battle” game splits the two halves of the scorecard into “attack” and “heal.” Roll an “attack,” and you drain points from an enemy. Roll a “heal,” and you restore you own points. The goal is to get the enemy down to zero points.

The App has its share of little annoyances, such as asking me if I want sound every time I start it, and then completely ignoring the fact that I selected “no.”

Look, I don’t even like Yahtzee, and I liked this App, so that should be a fair indication that Apps function under somewhat different rules than their tabletop versions.