Review: Yacht II


The problem with classic games is that they tend to get overlooked by many because it's been so long since they appeared. Such is the case with ZingMagic's Yacht (i.e. Yahtzee), here in its 'II' implementation, reviewed back by us five years ago on All About Symbian, when the screen size was a brain numbing 176 pixels by 208 - remember? The gameplay's basically identical, but for a classic game this is exactly what you want. And we have improvements in screen resolution and distribution method.

Author: ZingMagic

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New for this year, and following the zeitgeist, is a totally free version of Yacht II, made possible by using in-game ads (one of which is shown below) - these don't get in the way too much and enable everyone to get utterly hooked on this classic puzzle without having to dip into their pocket first.

Of course, if you despise in-game ads and/or don't have a ready data connection, then the full version of the game is also available in the Nokia Store and won't break the bank at £1.50 (in the UK).

In case you've been living under a rock for the last 45 years, Yahtzee is a dice-based strategy game, described here by Wikipedia:

"The object of the game is to score the most points by rolling five dice to make certain combinations. The dice can be rolled up to three times in a turn to try to make one of the thirteen possible scoring combinations. A game consists of thirteen rounds during which the player chooses which scoring combination is to be used in that round. Once a combination has been used in the game, it cannot be used again.

The scoring combinations have varying point values, some of which are fixed values and others of which have the cumulative value of the dice. A Yahtzee is five-of-a-kind and holds the game's highest point value of 50 (not counting multiple "Yahtzees" in the same game)."

As usual with ZingMagic, the implementation of the game is professional and with several cosmetic options (so you can switch boards or dice, in this case), without ever actually knocking the ball out of the park. "Workmanlike" doesn't do the developer justice - it's just there are no welcome or unwelcome surprises and everything just.... works.

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As mentioned previously, like the developer, Yacht has been around for a while, first programmed on Series 60 phones back in 2005 and with similar versions for Nokia Communicators and other Symbian and mobile platforms. It was clearly cramped on the 176x208 pixel screens of the day, but works very well on QVGA (modelled above on the N86) and even better in nHD (modelled here on the N8). 

Although the interface now supports touch, as in tapping a score box to select it, the use of touch is somewhat minimal, as you might expect from the nature of the puzzle - most of the manipulation is being done in your brain, not on the playing surface!

Screenshot Screenshot 

Dice animations help keep things moving and scores are automatically assigned to the most likely scoring slot, though as ever the highest consistent scoring will be done by those who think (literally) outside the box and maximise points by choosing combinations which enable the bonuses and which have the highest dice face value (e.g. don't bother with a full house of 1s and 2s, try for one with 6s and 5s).

Yacht (Yahtzee) is one of those games with almost infinite replay value, something that ZingMagic specialises in (the day it does a level-based platform shooter is the day I keel over in surprise!), and it's as immersive here as ever - there's a genuine mental challenge involved in maximising your chances, despite the obviously significant luck factor in terms of which dice get rolled.

The addition of in-game advertising in order to make Yacht free is welcome as it will increase download numbers massively. And if only one in ten of those downloaders then get fed up with the adverts (which appear every dozen or so dice rolls) and buy the full game then I suspect that ZingMagic will consider the experiment a success. Most of ZingMagic's other game titles are receiving the same ad-supported 'Free' treatment, so watch out for them in the Nokia Store.

Steve Litchfield, All About Symbian, 9 October 2011

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