Review: Backgammon Blitz (PSV/PSTV)

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Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy No
  • Cross-Save No
  • Cross-Play Yes
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Backgammon Blitz
Format: PlayStation Network Download (149 MB)
Release Date: April 15, 2014 (US), December 12, 2013 (EU)
Publisher: The Fyzz Facility
Developer: VooFoo Studios
Original MSRP: $7.99 (US), €6.19 (EU), £4.99 (UK) *This is NOT a Cross-Buy title
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
Backgammon Blitz is also available for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. This is a Cross-Play title. It is NOT a Cross-Buy title.
The PlayStation Vita version was used for this review.

After downloading Backgammon Blitz to my PS Vita I instantly jumped into a traditional game against the computer. After a long heated game that tested the intelligence and cunning of both players, the computer won with 12 points, which apparently is an embarrassing loss. But at least I obtained two surprising trophies and the desire to actually learn the game next time.

Thankfully I now know how to play this classic board game as VooFoo Studios included a very helpful and quick tutorial. But will I end up being bored of this game? See what I did there!

backgammon-blitz-012 backgammon-blitz-001

Gameplay:
Backgammon is one of the oldest board games in the world and relies on strategy with a small amount of luck. With this version you can also play a Blitz style game which introduces power-ups that can be bought using Blitz Bullion coins. The coins are slowly earned during games and by completing the tutorial. These power-ups can drastically alter the game to your favor if used correctly. For example, using Bodyguard protects a blot for one turn, while Frozen puts an icy chill on an opponent’s nip for a turn making it immovable. I should point out that a nip is the piece you move around the game board and is also known as a checker or draught.

One major question with the addition of the Blitz mode is whether or not it improves on the original game. After many hours spent playing both versions I can easily say that I enjoy both equally, especially when playing against a human opponent. The Blitz mode can become quite frantic while the traditional game is more of a relaxed affair. VooFoo had the foresight to limit the amount of power-ups available in each game which also adds to the tension, to a degree.

Sadly this game isn’t Cross-Buy which would have definitely upped the score. Combine that with a slightly higher price point than I expected. Between the PS3, PS4 and Vita, which version is the best? I would have to go for the Vita version as I can play it anywhere and the touch screen makes menu choices that little bit quicker.

Visuals:
Wooden, Workshop, Leather and Stone game boards make up all the different choices you have. Each one looks good but the original Wooden board ended up being my favorite. The tutorial text on screen is a little bit small for my liking but it quickly becomes irrelevant as that section only lasts a few minutes.

My only gripe is that it isn’t a fully realized game world which means you cannot pan the camera all around the board, which might not seem like a big deal until you play as the other set of pieces and the camera stays where it is. Just imagine two people playing the game, but both sitting in the same chair. While it definitely isn’t a deal breaker it does annoy and takes some getting used to.

backgammon-blitz-011 backgammon-blitz-003

Audio:
A strange selection of music which seems to fit perfectly with the game but does get a little tedious after several matches. A nice choice in the audio menu is the option to turn off certain music genres, so if the distinctive style of Jazz isn’t to your liking or the harmonic logic of Classical is too much to bear simply turn them off.

There is a small amount of voice work in the Blitz mode which is usually just things like “Nice move” or occasionally when you win, “Who’s the daddy?” It is a nice addition and I’m glad that it’s kept away from the traditional game mode.

Online/Multiplayer:
Backgammon Blitz has two player local play and online play. When you first go into the online section there are just 12 empty slots. Each one of those can become an online game by selecting a friend, player ID or even recent opponents. The beauty in this mode is that if your opponent is offline it becomes an asynchronous multiplayer experience. In other words, you can both play when it’s convenient and you can have 12 games going at once. You can pick between a traditional game and the Blitz version and to top it off it also has cross-platform play.

Conclusion:
A solid and fun game of Backgammon with the welcome addition of the Blitz mode and multiplayer makes this a great game to have in your collection. Having never played Backgammon before, I found this to be a quick and easy way to learn the game. My only annoyance is that blasted camera being fixed on one side of the board even if there are two real players. But I think most people wouldn’t even care about it. It suits the Vita very well and is my platform of choice for this game. It’s a great, quick way to kill some time before that bus/meeting/prostate exam.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built-in screen capture feature.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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