Who’s up for a change of pace amidst a Fall season of gritty shooters and role-playing games? THQ has got you covered with the recent digital release of classic party game Apples To Apples, the game of hilarious comparisons.
For anyone unfamiliar with the game, first shame on you! The game is played with 3-6 people, although the card game allows for more. The game is split into rounds, and each round has a judge. The judge draws a green card, which will have an adjective on it like “boring” or “chewy.” Everyone else has a hand full of red cards with nouns on them like “California” or “Winston Churchill.” The players have to pick a red card they think is most like the judge’s green card. The red cards are shuffled, and the judge picks one. The player who wins the round gets to keep the green card. The game goes until one player collects the predetermined amount of green cards to win the game.
The game also has golden cards, which do things such as steal a card from a player or force another player to draw an entirely new hand. These can be opted-out.
The card game is great fun, and a staple of my own high school years. But how does the digital rendition work?
The game is split into three different modes: single-player, local multi-player and online multi-player. The single-player works much like the other word-game Boggle. The player is presented a clue and a few words on the easier levels. The player is tasked with finding the correct word in the jumble of letters. On harder levels the list of words is replaced entirely with question marks.
Let me put it this way, if you’re buying this game, you aren’t buying it for the single-player, or at least you shouldn’t. Not only is it near impossible to figure out the intention of a descriptor word with a noun when drawn by the computer, but it’s not real Apples To Apples.
It should be noted that there are a bunch of unlockables in the game too. Players can unlock new apple avatars like pirates and rock stars and knights, along with themes like castles, the moon and a desert. Sure, it doesn’t add much, but it’s something to personalize the experience a bit.
I was concerned with how the local multi-player would work, as secrecy is a major factor of picking cards and judging the best one. The local gameplay works exactly as you’d expect in this case. Of four players on screen, one is chosen as judge, and the other three have to pick cards. The players picking the cards have one of their cards at a time displayed on screen. The tool put in place to help keep that secrecy a bit is a “secret choice” button. Hit this button on the card you want and you’ll silently choose that one, while allowing yourself to pick a different card to throw off your enemies. It works better than I expected, but still isn’t what you should buy this game for.
Online multi-player in this game is one of the single greatest experiences you can have with friends on Xbox LIVE. Up to six players can join the fun online, and everything works perfectly. Cards are secret, conversations are hilarious, everyone usually begins playing seriously and ends up playing more ironically, (I’m particularly fond of winning the “excruciating” round with the “Mariah Carey” card).
The only kicker, and I know this isn’t any fault on the developers or anyone involved with the actual making of the game, is the community. Out of several dozen matches I’ve played within the last few days, many of them had to be either with friends I could convince to buy the game, or the same people over and over again. This is because there isn’t much of a large community for the game yet.
With that, I urge anyone interested to pick up the game, convince their friends to get the game, and jump online. I can speak from experience with the physical card game that there are some potentially hilarious nights ahead of you if you can manage to get a bunch of dedicated people playing. I’ve already recommended the game to nearly every single one of my friends because games will very much take a path depending on the people that play it. Sure there may be a few glitches that still need to be ironed out of the online, and the single-player and local play really aren’t the greatest thing in the world, but the online play with friends is worth the $10 alone.
I sincerely hope that Apples To Apples gets up there with Uno and Texas Hold ‘Em as one of those games that reaches insane popularity because it’s a great way to spend a night with some friends. But as of right now, the only thing holding back an otherwise great party game is a lack of awareness.
This review is based on an Xbox 360 copy of the game that was provided to us for review purposes.
Apples To Apples is a simple party game that could lead to hours of fun and endless amounts of jokes amongst you and your friends.