Backgammon is an age-old boardgame that fuses the psychology of Poker with the tactical elements of Chess.
Backgammon Blitz, however, is a dreadfully dull and uninspired cash grab that amazingly manages to go out of its way to irritate.
The basic premise of Backgammon is to move all of the player's checkers around the board and back in their holders. The first player to do this, wins.
There's an element of tactics in the real-life version - you have to try and predict which piece your opponent is planning to move, and counter accordingly.
In Backgammon Blitz, there's no need for such futile tactics. Almost every game can be won by hammering the X button. I managed to win a match by watching TV and occasionally pressing X.
This flaw in the design means there's no real competition, and no reason to want to improve. In a game like Backgammon, those elements are crucial.
The game itself is split into two modes: Standard Backgammon and Backgammon Blitz, each with local and online versus should someone want to test their skills against a human opponent .
The Standard mode plays out under the generic Backgammon rules, while Blitz mode adds the option of power-ups and a voiceover that shouts such nonsense as 'Die gone AWOL!' or 'There's the bar!' or, my personal favourite, 'Die, die, die!'
My sentiments exactly.
During each round, three power-ups may be chosen ranging from freezing an opponent's checker to automatically rolling a double. While the idea of Backgammon with power-ups sounds exciting, it really isn't. It just feels like cheating.
Imagine playing Chess and moving a knight to secure a checkmate, and then imagine your opponent using a power-up to freeze the knight so it can't move. Would that be a fun new mechanic to add a new dimension to a time-honoured game? No.
Hamming it up
To make matters worse, there's some unfortunately underhanded in-game purchases on offer. Power-ups are unlocked by either playing a specific number of matches or via the game's currency, bullions. Bullions can be earned by completing games, but doing so would result in constant grinding.
The upshot being there's always the option of watching TV and just hammering the X button.
If you choose to go down the microtransaction route, power-ups can be unlocked through real-world currency, then need to be purchased individually afterwards for a single-use.
Another issue is that unless you unlock power-ups naturally, there's no description informing the player what the bloody thing does. Meaning you're spending money, blindly.
It's a vile cash grab. Power-ups, if implemented correctly, could have added a new dimension to a boardgame that's fallen out of favour in recent years. But as it is, it's a stomach churning and hollow idea unless you're willing to grind.
Lipstick on a pig
It's not all bad, though. I suppose the nicest thing I can say for Backgammon Blitz is it looks pretty (unless you spin the camera while doing anything whatsoever, as that'll cause the frame-rate to drop), and it works. If someone wanted to play Backgammon, they could, and for a pure Backgammon experience, it does the job.
Backgammon Blitz tries its best to reinvent Backgammon for the Candy Crush generation, and fails. The music ranges from generic Poker ambiance to '20s techno. The voiceover annoys. And power-ups offer up nothing besides an underserved victory or a loss as the cost of real money.
If Backgammon the boardgame is indeed the hybrid of Poker and Chess, then Backgammon Blitz is a game that fuses the psychology of capitalism with the tactical elements of Snakes and Ladders.