Review by halo824

"You get what you pay for, and then some."

Spyglass Board Games is a compilation of four classic board games wrapped up in one affordable package. It consists of Chess, Checkers, Reversi and Mancala. It has it's flaws and we'll get to those later, but for what you pay (400 Microsoft Points=$5.00 American) you can't lose in my opinion.

Spyglass Board Games is actually four separate classic board games bundled into one, so I will go through them as such.

Chess holds true to its classic game play, all the rules are in tact and every play is as well from Castling to the Scholar's Mate. It's exactly what you expect and nothing more. You can play this against a person via XBox Live or against the computer. There are two major downsides to this version however: a major glitch and lack of options. The major glitch I speak of, is that when you promote a pawn to a queen, it does not consider it a queen until the next move. This will affect the game greatly as it will often force a player into a stalemate, when it is rightfully a checkmate. To my understanding this will be fixed eventually, so if it has been please disregard the entire comment. The lack of options I talked about is the fact that you cannot play local play in this, nor can you in any of the other games in this bundle. The last obvious flaw in the Chess segment of the game, is not being able to play from a birds-eye view, or 2D if you will. Many people prefer to play the game as you would see in a newspaper, and above-the-board view so you can clearly see each piece. While the 3D is a nice addition, they should have given an option as it can at times hinder your ability to play to your fullest extent.

Checkers also holds true and there's no glitches to my knowledge, but once again, it lacks options. As with chess you should be able to play in local play or in 2D mode (though not as necessary in Checkers). Other than that it plays fine, just as you would at home with the exception of a few rules that some people may not be used to. Such as, if you CAN take a piece, you MUST take the piece. I think they should have given an option for that rule. There were a few other variations of Checkers I'd like to have seen, but I can't complain. You can play against another player on XBox Live or against the AI once again.

Mancala is as far as I know a perfect replica of it's physical counterpart. I never really played the game too much, but from what I have there is nothing to complain about. Pretty basic stuff here, you can as usual play against the AI or a player on XBox Live.

Reversi is the only game in the bundle which I have never played previously, so I'm not entirely certain of every rule or flaw in this game. From what I see and hear, the game is another fine way to play Reversi. No glitches or anything that I know of that really hinder the gameplay. My only real complaint of this game is of the Reversi AI, it is way to hard to beat, and the majority of people will agree with me here. As always, you can play via XBox live against another player or by yourself against a computer opponent.

As a side note, each game type has unlockable piece themes. Some are pretty clever, I particularly like the DNA strands in place of the Mancala pieces and the jelly-like chess pieces. Each of these is unlocked with a different achievement, which increases the replay value mildly. There's also a few different Chess boards as well.

The graphics are pretty much what you would expect, I suppose they have some pretty nice looking chess boards and fairly high details on them. Then again, these are board games so the graphics are 99% irrelevant.

Final Word:
Spyglass Board Games is a nice addition to anyone's XBox Live Arcade library providing you can play the games inside. With minimal faults, a few unlockables and four classic games, you can't really complain for what you're paying for it. At 400 Microsoft Points this game is a steal in my opinion, while some will disagree, there's not much room to complain. All in all it's a fun game and will keep you busy for a while and you'll probably see yourself flocking back to this when there's nothing else to do from time to time.

My rating: 8/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 08/08/07

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