Classic Russian Boardgame Comes to iPhone with iChapaev

Price: $0.99    Score: 7/10   By Daniel BischoffiChapaev

iChapaev from developer MaxNick might seem like a shallow game, but there’s a lot more to it. At first, it might be easy to write it off as an oddity: it looks like checkers but plays like two four-year-olds who haven’t had the rules explained to them. It offers both single player vs. the computer and player vs. player modes as well as small tweaks to the gameplay that can take the difficulty from easy, to medium, to difficult.

The instructions that come with the app don’t lend themselves to an “ease of use” motif, but iChapaev is actually a very easy game to learn, but can be difficult to master. There are white pieces on one side of the board and black pieces on the other.  At the start, each side starts at the edge of the board, but if you win a round, your pieces will line up on the line one unit closer to the center. The object is to project your pieces into the other side’s, then pushing them off the board, without letting your piece slide off in ricochet.

This sounds easy enough, but a successful slide allows the player to shoot again, thus enabling a quick windfall of moves. It’s OK though. If you’re forced off in the first round, but win the second, the opposing team’s pieces will move backward as you move forward causing a big swing for the victor.

Of course, there’s a little strategy to develop in a game like iChapaev. Should you try to knock as many pieces off in one shot? Should you take it slow and match piece for piece? Should you take a shot at an angle or head on? What’s your plan of attack? I made it up as I went, but I made too many mistakes and had my pieces sliding off the board along with their targets with every shot I took.

iChapaev is a lot more fun when you’re playing with two people. You can hand the iPhone back and forth or keep it situated on a table between the two of you.  It helps when you can trash talk back and forth because without that interaction, playing with the computer can end up being a pretty sparse game. The visuals are neat and the pieces react in a predictable way so that when you take a shot, you won’t be second-guessing yourself.

iChapaev is compatible with the iPhone and iPod Touch.  It requires the iPhone OS 3.0 or later.

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