Hive Review (iPhone)

Game Review: Hive
Release: October 23rd, 2009
Genre: Strategy, Board Games
Developer: Lotusland Studios
Available Platforms: iPhone and iPod Touch (OS 2.2.1 or later required)
Players: 1-2
MSRP: $1.99
ESRB Rating: Rated 4+
Website: Lotusland Studios

Hive is a board game that requires some strategy and planning and in return delivers a satisfying experience.  Anyone who likes basic strategy games such as chess and checkers will love Hive, which really sets itself apart by not having a board.  But Mike, what do you mean…how can you have a board game without a board?  In Hive, the board is essentially created as you play, which makes the experience all the more unique and fun.

The point of the game ultimately is to capture the other player’s Queen Bee.  The other “pieces” that can be played include the Soldier Ant, Grasshopper, Beetle and Spider.  Each piece has a distinct ability, similar to the way chess pieces work, and all work together to achieve victory.  To win, you must completely surround your opponent’s Queen Bee.  The twist with the game is, you can use any game piece, including those of your opponent, to surround their Queen.  This adds another consideration for both players, believe me there is nothing more frustrating than realizing that you helped to box in your own Queen!

What I liked most about this game is that it is very easy to learn and play.  That is not to say there is no challenge, because there absolutely is, but the game is one that is not difficult to learn and certainly can be fun for all ages.  The graphics are also very well done, and the abilities to move the game board around including zooming and tilting are impressive and useful.

The game is very deep in terms of options and modes of play.  To begin with, you can choose from 4 different game tile sets which are all very well done and beautiful looking.  The game offers single player and two player modes.  The single player mode includes 4 levels of difficulty.  You unlock the higher levels after conquering the previous levels and the beginner level is perfect for the novice trying to get a grasp of the game.  In single player mode you are playing against the CPU.  For the two player mode, you can choose to share the same screen or play via Peer 2 Peer (P2P) against someone that has their own iPhone or iPod Touch with the game.  I really like the idea of being able to play a board game with a friend, without having to lug around an actual board.  I can see this being a fantastic game to play on road trips.  Hive also features the ability to save a game in progress, so you can come back to it later if the need arises.

The game is so well done, it is hard to find room for improvement.  That said, I do think it would benefit from a little bit more of an in depth and interactive tutorial.  You basically read about the rules and game play and I find with a game that is this potentially complex, the player would really benefit from some interaction to make the fundamentals “click”.

I am a big fan of Chess, so I was looking forward to giving Hive it’s day in iPhone court and I was not disappointed.  After a few games of being a little lost and getting smoked by the CPU, I finally caught on and realized some basic strategies to win.  The first victory felt great…and no I don’t care that it came at beginner!  Once you take into consideration all of the possibilities, you quickly realize how deep of a game this is for the board game and strategy game enthusiast.  Overall I give Hive a solid 4 stars out of 5.

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