Catan is the first modern German-style board game to gain popularity the world over. If you’ve never played a game of this genre before, get ready to color outside of the lines. Catan is a civilization-building game with an emphasis on alliances, diplomatic trading, asymmetrical warfare, and resource management.
Developed by Exozet Games, the object of Catan is to develop and populate an island with your civilization. Games are played to 10 points and points are earned by building cities, roads, infrastructure and raising armies.
Catan is a 2 to 4-player game but even when it’s someone else’s turn you have to pay close attention to the what’s going on. The trading of resources means there’s something for each player to do, and it helps to keep tabs on other players’ goals.
I’ve played the board game version as well as the Xbox Live Arcade version a lot and I’m a big fan of Catan. The art of Catan is subtle yet beautiful. Simple artistic illustrations make it easy for players to pick out the 5 resources, especially if they’ve played any of the other versions of Catan. The music is very much what you would expect from this sort of game, adventure game flutes and light midi orchestral music. This is one of the few BlackBerry games out there whose music didn’t insult my better sensibilities.
The Game features in-game help to teach you how to play and simple UI to help you through the game’s turn order. I found the game felt like a direct port from a feature phone Java game because it re-purposed the BlackBerry and Back buttons into left and right softkeys. I would expect someone porting games to the BlackBerry to at least keep up with BlackBerry navigation norms. Having the menu button on the right made me feel like I was on the Symbian OS.
The AI is smart-ish and doesn’t make terrible errors. The AI likes to trade nearly every turn so keep an eye on who has what resource cards.
I give Catan: The First Island for BlackBerry, 4 stars out of a possible 5. They’ve really captured the Catan spirit. I’d say the only improvements to be made are on the user interface. The Bluetooth multiplayer and Hotseat modes make this a winner for road trips and air travel alike.