I had a lot of fun when reviewing one of Smart Box Design’s previous titles, WordPop, and was thus quite keen to get my fingers into their new title, Farkle. It’s apparently based on a family dice game, which is ironic given this is nicely targeted at a single player – although those willing to fight over the Palm can play with up to 4 human players.
But what’s not missing is the thrill as you leave those suckers for dead, or the great vexation that results when the other players fly past you and you keep rolling Farkles. This is a game of strategy, but there’s still a strong component of chance.
The game is played with 6 die. Each player takes turns to roll these, and will (hopefully) increase their score. Once one player breaks 10000 (which can be changed via the options) then the remainder have a single round to try make the highest score and win. The rules are straightforward enough – 1, 5, three of a kind, three pairs and six dice straight will all score you points. If you get no scoring dice you get a Farkle – you pass to the next player having gained no points, and if you manage to reach these dark depths twice more you’ll find yourself 1000 points poorer. If you do get at least one scoring dice you can place it aside, and roll the remainder to try increase your total for this round. Of course, should you get a Farkle you’ll exit the round with 0 points. Should you be lucky enough to score with all 6 die then you can re-roll the lot, leading to some very nicely scoring rounds.
They’ve taken an interesting tack with the computer players (you may select up to three to play against from 6 different opponents). Each has a name that describes its playing style – Bonzai Bob throwing caution to the wind, while Nervous Nell plays a cautious game. And they do play in very different manners, and can be quite interesting to watch (and learn from).
They also provide excellent in game help for your first game (or later games if you toggle it back on), making it quite feasible to dive straight in without reading the manual – handy, as I’ve yet to find anyone who does take the time to browse the docs.
The presentation is lovely – the graphics are clean and crisp and sound effects add nicely to the atmosphere without becoming annoying (although the ‘roll’ sound may become a little repetitive, they minimise this by only using it when a human player rolls).
The only nasty thing I can think of is that games may run a little slowly with 4 computers players, simply given the time it takes for each to roll and score. But it’s a very minor concern really.
In summary, it’s an excellent wee game and really rather fun – it’s become my entertainment of choice on the buses. Congratulations to Smart Box on another well developed game that’s a pleasure to play.