The Xbox Live Arcade has given rise to a veritable library of video game adaptations of great board and card games, both popular and niche. Apples to Apples is the newest game to get the digital treatment, and it released last week from THQ.
In case you’re new to this zany game, here’s how it works. Apples to Apples is a card game for groups of players. One person plays as the judge, evaluating the results of the other players. The judge draws a green card at the beginning of each round and shows it to everyone else. Each green card typically has an adjective or a descriptive phrase printed on it (“brilliant,” “expensive,” “undesirable,” etc). Each of the other players holds several red cards, each printed with a noun of some sort (“monkeys,” “Elvis Presley,” “lawn mowers,” and so forth). Players must decide which of their red cards most closely matches the descriptor on the green card. The judge then evaluates all the red cards and awards the green card to the player whose red card selection seems most appropriate.
Apples to Apples is an especially awesome party game, because it’s more about reading and coaxing the other players’ personalities than it is about getting the right cards into your hand. Players use what they know about the judge to maneuver their red card selections to the top. If they know the judge hates jazz, they’d be well advised to play red cards about jazz music to match with negative green cards, for instance. Most of the fun of the game comes from arguing the validity of your selection after all the cards have been turned in, and that maps well to the Xbox version of the game.
The Apples to Apples video game supports a mostly faithful version of the traditional multiplayer experience, but it also packs in a new single player mode. Solo players will be dealt a green card by an apple avatar, and they must pick a red card to match it based on their assumptions about the apple’s personality. There are several different apples, ranging from a cowboy to a princess to a clown. Different apples will appreciate different responses, so you have to be careful to play to what you think their interests might be. Another twist in single player is that the selection of the red card involves playing a quick word search game to spell out the noun you want to submit. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of finding the exact word that’s printed on your red card, but other times you’ll have to find a missing word to fill in the blanks on your red card.
Solo play is a fun diversion, but it should be no surprise that the real point of the game is its multiplayer component. With endless combinations of cards possible, Apples to Apples promises hours of hilarity for devoted fans. It’s a very simple game, and it might not look all that engaging based solely on screenshots. Much like its traditional card game predecessor, though, once you start playing it yourself, it’s hard to stop!