Yahtzee. The name immediately brings fond memories to mind for just about everyone. It was only a matter of time before this classic found its way to PC screens, and with Ultimate Yahtzee, Hasbro has delivered not only the venerable dice game to gamers, but also four new variations. If you like dice games, your day has come.
For those of you unfamiliar with Yahtzee, I recommend studying your 'human lifestyles manual' a little harder, or you're sure to be detected for the extraterrestrial you are. For those who really were raised in a cave, here's the rundown: Each player (two to four people are required for a game, but the computer will be glad to fill in any empty spaces) rolls five dice three times in an attempt to create combinations vaguely similar to those found in poker (four of a kind, straight, full house, that sort of thing). The ultimate combo is a 'Yahtzee', or all five dice the same. At the end of the round, all players' scores are added up, and the player with the most points wins. Unlike most board games (Monopoly, Scrabble, Clue) a whole lot of Yahtzee is based entirely on luck, a fact that adds a great deal of excitement to the game while preventing veteran players from kicking the crap out of newbies again and again.
As stated before, Ultimate Yahtzee is collection of all the wacky Yahtzee variations that were released over the years. In addition to the standard or 'classic' Yahtzee, Ultimate Yahtzee also includes Triple Yahtzee (about the same as playing three games of Yahtzee at once), Pyramid Yahtzee (a four-sided dice variation that's a lot quicker to play than the basic game), Painted Yahtzee (Yahtzee with colors, very addictive) and Battle Yahtzee ( you get a chance to throw your dice at your opponents' combinations, guaranteed to start fights). All of the versions have a clean (if not particularly impressive) look and feel, and do an excellent job of retaining the original flavor of the game. The 'virtual cup' (don't get me started on that moniker) technology - actually moving the mouse around to throw the dice - is kind of cool, but it's not much more than a gimmick and eventually becomes annoying. Although the dice sounds are well done, the rest of Yahtzee's fairly thin effects library is easily the game's weakest attribute.
You might as well face it - Yahtzee is Yahtzee, and the addition of a computer screen and mouse doesn't really change that. If Hasbro had shot for network or Internet play, there would be a lot more to write about here, but they didn't and that creates the biggest question of all. If I have gather my friends together and roll my own dice, why should I play this on a computer at all? Strictly for loners who love the original dice game.