After Trivial Pursuit, we'd argue Pictionary is next in line as the party game favourite most often wheeled out alongside the inevitable charades on Christmas Day.
For some, of course, that day comes far too seldom and so they'll no doubt delight in the fact Pictionary has been squeezed into mobile phones. Okay, it doesn't come laden with presents, but you do get to play the popular guessing game alone or with a friend, without having to wait until December 25th.
The translation of the family-orientated game to mobile format has meant the creation of several game modes to lend a bit of structure to the standard rules. That and guide you through the various ways you can be ritualistically humiliated by your own lack of artistic prowess.
The drawing works in a similar fashion to nostalgic knob-twiddler Etch A Sketch, with the keypad manipulating an onscreen pencil. Tools enable you to change the colour and thickness of your pencil, draw squares, circles and precise lines, and flood colour into certain areas. If you like, you can spend ages creating mini masterpieces in the Free Draw mode to use as your phone wallpaper – it's a bit like an art program you'd find on your PC.
The only options for lone players are to battle the computer – which involves guessing the identity of pictures as they're drawn in front of you, scoring more points the quicker you solve the puzzle – or use the Free Draw mode to create artwork that can be used in the game or exported from your phone to show off amongst your friends.
Just like the real thing, EA's mobile offering is better when played with other people. There are several multiplayer modes available, with Pass N Play being the most successful. It works, essentially, just like the original game: one person is given an object to draw and other players, in turn, guess what it is (done here by typing letters in a pre-determined number of spaces in much the same way as you construct a text message).
The involving, community feel of the game is enhanced by Pass N Play mode, which is as close as you'll get to recreating proper Pictionary on your phone. The other multiplayer mode, Battle, is more cumbersome. Like Solo games, the aim is to identify the picture being drawn as quickly as possible. Each player presses a button, '1' or '3', when they want to guess the name of the image. It's fiddly, though, as both players play tug-of-war with the small handset in their eagerness to answer before one another.
Graphically, the only thing that really matters in a title like this are the drawings, and these are rendered, clearly and precisely, in the middle of the screen. The rest of the presentation is merely adequate – somewhat unusual for EA, a company who usually prides itself on aesthetics – with the sound being just as secondary a concern, as evidenced by the cheesy music littering the various menus and modes.
Pictionary isn't really concerned with visuals outside the pictures you have to name, though, and so the above hardly matters. It's a game best played with friends – as is the original boardgame – and the accomplished Pass N Play mode allows for a decent, competitive guessing game to develop. The Battle Mode is a slight disappointment but the adequate single-player challenge provides fun when you're by yourself, too.
A bit of a multiplayer marvel, then, and a great digital update of a family classic.