iPod: Catchphrase

Version reviewed: v 1.1

Requires iPad running iOS 4.0 or later (iPhone version also available, again requiring 4.0 or later)

Social: Can post scores on Facebook and/or Twitter.

iTunes Preview link (standalone iPhone version)

iDevices should be particularly suited to fast, pick up and play graphical puzzle fun (as the thematically similar and Bother’s Bar recommended Say What You See has shown). Catchphrase is one of the all time greats of course and fans of the show will initially not be too disappointed.

For a start it looks the part, the recreation of the old Roy Walker (and this is an app that’s generally well aware of what side the nostalgic bread is buttered) studio together with middle-era logo, middle-era Mr Chips and later-era theme and also, excitingly, about five or six vocal samples from Roy Walker himself.

The game works as a mini version of the format, three rounds are played, the money chase for each round is always £5 to £50 but the bonus increases in value by £50 each time, the highest score gets to play the Super Catchphrase. All well and good. You can play one or two players with the computer taking the role of the second player if necessary. I think you get 200 Catchphrases (with further puzzles available through in-app purchase) so you won’t start getting repeats for a few games.

So far so good. However.

You have to be dead on with your answers, no wiggle room has been left for people who might use a different person or indeed different adjective endings (you can’t have “jumping to a conclusion” for “jump to a conclusion” for example, which of course Roy would let you have no problem at all in real life). This makes the game feel far more difficult to play then necessary, and certainly with two players it makes it a lot less fun.

Another thing that makes it less fun for two is that some of the puzzles, whilst not really obscure as such, feel quite difficult and whereas on telly if contestants are struggling Roy (or indeed Nick or Mark) could nudge you in the right sort of direction here you’re on your own. A puzzle will continue until both players has had two goes (and whilst you can buzz and pass, the puzzle will continue indefinitely until you do so – tedious). And if nobody gets the bonus catchphrase, you’ll just have to do the entire round again. Tedious.

Amusingly this is less of an issue if you’re playing in one player because the computer opponent will often buzz in with something that sounds a bit like the phrase being asked for without being quite right in a way that makes it obvious what it should be. There will be occasions where the computer buzzes in  with the right answer a bit too quickly, but seeing as he’s wrong much more often than he’s right it does tend to make the solo experience more enjoyable than it possibly could have been even if it feels more like accident than design.

It is a pity that solving a bonus catchphrase just gets a standard “that’s a catchphrase” from Virtual Roy when surely it was asking for a proper full on “RRRIIIIIIIIGGHHT!”

For no discernable reason player one is the red one which is on the right, player two is the blue one which is on the left. Confusing.

So there we are, rather tritely it’s good but it’s not quite right.

The iPhone version (v1.0.1) basically has all the same positives and negatives of the iPad version but in lower definition as far as we can tell.

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