A waste of five dollars.
So I downloaded Spyglass Board Games this morning while my coffee was brewing. It's a 45-megabyte, 400-points download from XBLA consisting of Chess, Checkers, Reversi, and Mancala. I played each of the games a couple times, let out a hearty yawn, slapped myself for downloading it, then went back upstairs to get to work on another guidebook.
I bought into the simplistic, pick-up-and-play allure of this mini-collection. I thought to myself, "Hey, self! Who doesn't like Checkers and Reversi? You got to give this a try!" And so I did and I realized that there's a reason why I haven't played these games in a decade or two. They're just too... basic. I love board games and I really enjoy playing them over Xbox Live. But there's got to be some meat. Catan offered a mixed-grill's worth of delicious, succulent meat but Spyglass Board Games is more like a slab of Spam on a Saltine cracker. To quote everyone's favorite pseudo-Aussie (the one that's still alive), "You can live off it, but it tastes like shit."
And I think part of my distaste for the game is in the rules. Since when in Checkers do you have to take an opponent's piece when the opportunity is there? I never played that way. Sometimes the strategic move is to not take an opponent's piece. And as for Mancala, I only played it a few times years ago, but I have no idea what is going on in this digital version and, frankly, the "instructions" don't seem to match at all what is going on in the game. I'm glad more games like this are coming out for XBLA and showing eveyrone that the Wii isn't the only option for those looking for "casual games" so in that regard, I'm fine with the $5 donation to the cause, but this download really left me wanting more.
What we really need are XBLA versions of Monopoly, Risk, and an updated 21st century version of Life. Or even Stratego.