Abalone® Review

By , on March 26, 2013
Last modified 11 years, 2 months ago

Download on the AppStore
4 out of 5


  • Very simple mechanics leading to quite complex gameplay possibilities.
  • Teaches concepts slowly through the discovery levels.


  • A feature to move around the board when zoomed in would be nice.
  • Presentation is quite average.


A slow paced game that at first is reminiscent of Chinese checkers, but is actually quite different. Whether playing the puzzle mode against the computer or a game against a friend, board game and puzzle fans will find value in this title.

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We've spoken about the renaissance of board games on the iOS before, but one great thing about it aside from fans of these games having digital and portable copies of their favorite titles, is for gamers to experience games in this category that they have never come across. This is the case with us here at AppSpy and Abalone. On the surface it looks like a version of Chinese Checkers but once the rules of the game are explained you'll find one of those games that is simple to learn, but contains rich complexity.

The goal of the game is to push your opponent's marbles off the board. This is done in straight line form, but to move marbles, your line has to be greater than theirs (for example if you have a line of three marbles in a row, you can push your opponent’s line of two). On each turn you can either make a move of a single marble in one of six directions, or you can move an entire line in one direction if that is possible. Perhaps you start to see how the this turn based game can become a parrying duel of offense and defense as both players wait for their opponent to make one mistake while they plan assaults from multiple fronts; especially with all the starting position variations available.

And while you can play friends with a wide array of variations, the main portion of the game is a challenge mode where you're given a board setup, and a number of enemy marbles to remove from play.

While the gameplay is extremely engaging however, the camera controls and presentation are a little on the average side. The textures have a soft blur focused look to them (at least on the 3GS), and the background music isn't that memorable. Also, there is no move function when zoomed in, so you can't use your finger to look around the board, the game forcing you to zoom back out instead.

For fans of the game, or those that love competitive board games like Chess, Abalone should keep you very entertained. It has the right balance of depth and complexity, and barring a few niggling control and visual issues, is a top notch digital version of a very interesting board game.


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