Game Over Online ~ Awele

GameOver Game Reviews - Awele (c) Hexacto, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Awele (c) Hexacto
System Requirements Pocket PC, 1.2 MB of Storage Memory and 2 MB of Program Memory
Overall Rating 60%
Date Published Sunday, June 23rd, 2002 at 04:45 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Awele is a board game originating from Egyptian antiquity that, like many things Egyptian, managed to cross-pollinate into countless other cultures. The setup of Hexacto's Awele harkens to that type of simplicity. Play is always organized such that one opponent will play against another. The premise of the game revolves around six cups held by each player on the game's playing board. Each player also holds a granary to capture any potential seeds in play. To do so, you must move or sow (keeping with the motif here) a seed that can potentially cause chain reactions with the other seeds. An initial of four seeds per hole is placed so there's plenty of opportunity for that to happen. The goal is to capture as many seeds as possible. Gameplay is untimed and turn-based in nature.

The connection to antiquity is interesting. The allusions to seeds and sowing reflect the agrarian origins of the game. Hexacto has instilled a good sense of African art into the gameplay. The dark palette used is a reflection of that. Unfortunately, this choice hinders the game's representations, especially when you're playing under direct sunlight or anywhere where viewing conditions are not favorable. The screenshots to the right look great but in actual play, Awele errs towards the dark side. Gamma correction is lamentably, not available. One of the symptoms: the seeds and the numbers counting the seeds themselves are not easily recognized; functionality sacrificed for artistry.

While the game is completely functional in that you can play it through and through, it offers very little in the way of help for novice players who are unsure of what Awele is about. Perhaps the developers assume too much in the universality of this game. At any rate, Hexacto includes a short text description of how to play the game but it's quite difficult to flip back to the instruction manual and play. In the 'Addict' series, these same developers included some pretty sophisticated live tutorials and static screens to instruct people on how to play. Here, the tutorial is almost non-existent and it would have been nice if there was an interactive guide to play the game. The interface, indeed, is supposed to be intuitive. That part, superficially, is true without contestation. You can manipulate the entire game with your stylus but regrettably, the rules themselves could not easily be grasped. Awele could have benefited immensely from an AI advisor to prod you along in actual gameplay.

Awele may have been around for quite some time but it is hard to envision it lasting that long on anyone's Pocket PC. Weighing in at slightly over one megabyte, it's quite a bit for an inherently simple game that features no unique AI settings, no rule variations, custom games or anything else that might be considered value-added. Chess is a board game that has been around for almost forever. But it has many variants. It has trap situations and scenarios that you can load up to tough out. It can exhibit multiple AI personalities. It can offer to train you giving you handicaps or handicapping the AI. Where are all these functions with Awele? Surely, some could be implemented. The only thing closely related to that is Hexacto's implementation of a conduit, much like EA's conduit, to organize things like high score posting. That's commendable and adds a little connectivity to the game itself but a quick glance at the website suggests that Awele is not exactly harboring a bustling community. Thus, the longevity of this title is something that must be questioned.

Of course, if you've been playing Awele since your childhood, there's not much I can say to really stop you from buying it. Awele is obviously not one of the highest priced games in Hexacto's line-up but its limited nature works against whatever intuitiveness this game might offer. Coupled with Hexacto's sudden departure from well-written tutorials, help is never forthcoming in the game, making it hard to love or cherish this as a classic.

[06/10] Addictiveness
[10/20] Gameplay
[08/15] Graphics
[10/10] Interface/controls
[07/10] Program Size
[02/05] Sound
[03/05] Discreetness
[08/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer


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