Hoyle Board Games (2002 version)

Published by Vivendi UIP
Platform: PC CD/ROM & Mac (also includes Backgammon for Palm OS)
Price £14.99
Released: Out Now

Board Games are those fantastically popular objects that we all own but rarely enjoy (except for at Christmas) because of one very common problem, we never have anyone to play the games with. Chess, Checkers and Battleships are games that usually just gather dust on some hard to reach shelf. So what's the answer to the eternal problem? Well you could always lower the shelf and buy a duster, (only joking). The perfect solution could be Hoyle Board Games.

Hoyle Board Games comes with sixteen classic board games and a host of opponents to play against plus you can also go online and play against fellow gamers from around the world. The games included are as follows:
Placer Racer, Mahjong Tiles, Master Match (otherwise known as Mastermind) Reversi (otherwise known as Othello) Backgammon, Battling Ships (otherwise known as Battle Ships) Yacht (otherwise known as Yahtzee) Dominoes, Checkers, Pachisi (a Ludo variant) Line 'em up (otherwise know as Connect 4) Mancala, Snakes & Ladders, Chess, Chinese Checkers and Rummy Squares.

Before you play the games you have to set yourself up as a character. To achieve this you have a face making kit. All manner of faces can be made with loads of choices for hairstyles, eyes, clothes etc.

All of the games offer different ways to play and some allow you to you manipulate the rules in some way to give a different twist. It is in the way that these games have been transferred to the PC & Mac that makes this compilation so special. Unlike some nasty efforts to bring board games to the home computer this compilation is presented beautifully, plays accurately, has an easy to use interface and offers fantastic instructions on how to play the games.

Some of the games such as Mahjong Tiles offer a massive amount of variety. This game with about 50+ tile designs and a tile design editor. In fact Mahjong Tiles can be bought as a stand alone title for £9.99 and yet it comes in this fantastic package with 15 other games for as little £19.99.

The only speech in the game (which is unsubtitled) comes from the AI opponents in the game and this is just the odd comment on the state of play, it is nothing to do with the game being played. In fact you can turn off character speech altogether if you want to.

It is hard to fault this compilation. It has been put together so lovingly and remains true to the spirit of board games. Hoyle Board Games is simply a must whether you have a lot of time on your hands or just time for a quick five minute game.

Overall Game Rating: 9.3/10 The best board game compilation on the PC & Mac.

Quality of text: 8/10 Character banter is not subtitled but otherwise it's great.

Graphics: 9/10 The games look as good as they play.

Interface:10/10 Clear and simple.

Gameplay:10/10 Plays as good if not better than the real thing.