Bringing the magic of the popular puzzle game Jenga onto a mobile phone was surely a challenge for developer Natural Motion, but it's definitely worked out well. The other gameplay options add a little something extra too.
Become a Jenga master
There are four gameplay options – classic, arcade, pass n play and online. Classic is the Jenga that everybody knows and love. Drag out a block from the tower and put it on top. Arcade adds in some extra elements, with blocks being different colors, a time limit in place and extra points for being speedy or lining up a row of the same color. You can also earn boosters, such as extra time and resetting the tower. Pass n play is a multiplayer option that allows you to compete with a friend, and online allows you to play either with a friend or with a random opponent.
The game is set in different scenarios and you can unlock more the higher you build your tower. You can gain XP by building higher and higher, which lets you progress in skill – from apprentice through to grand axe master. You can also check out how you're doing against other Jenga players on the high score menu.
Precision and accuracy
Jenga is easy to pick up even if you’ve never played the game in real life before. To play, you either nudge pieces out or drag and then drop them with one click on top. It's simple but it's also easy to accidentally switch to dragging another block unless you´re very precise.
When choose a block the game lets you know whether it will be easy (white colored), medium (pink) or difficult (red) to remove. While it would be good to be able to turn this option off to provide more of a challenge, there is still a certain level of skill because you have to be careful not to upset the balance of the tower when you're dragging the blocks out – just like real Jenga. It takes a while to work out exactly how precise and accurate you need to be but there isn't a steep learning curve.
There are a couple of drawbacks, the first being that when playing online there are no push notifications to let you know when it is your turn. The online mode is also not a quick-fire option; it's something to play over a day or two. Sometimes the game freezes and won't allow you to select another tile and currently there isn't an exit button. But all you have to do is press the home button to get out.
The 3D graphics give Jenga a very realistic feel, although the different backgrounds don't really add anything. The colored blocks in arcade Jenga add a nice touch as well.
Almost as good as the real thing
Fans of Jenga won't be disappointed by this version of the game. It's as realistic as you could expect an app version to be, and it requires almost the same fine touch as the real thing. There are a few improvements that could be made to this version of Jenga but the arcade mode and the ability to play against friends or random opponents add that necessary extra dimension.