Gameloft modernizes the oldest known game in history by bringing a version of backgammon to mobile. The game is translated well and the interface is simple, but the time it takes for the computer to make its move, at least on the V551, is too long, which is a noticeable drawback in an otherwise decent game. For this reason, Gameloft Backgammon is merely a good game and not a great one.
Backgammon, the game of kings and Omar Sharif, is played on a board of 24 spaces (called points) that are divided into four sections, with 12 on each half of the board and a divider splitting them down the middle. The objective is to move your pieces (men or checkers) back to your home square, while your opponent does the same. Although you and your opponent sit on opposite sides of the board, and your home quadrants are different, you move your pieces in the same direction, crisscrossing paths as you go. The game is played by rolling two dice, and the result of the roll indicates how many spaces your pieces can travel. You can either move one checker the sum total of the two dice, or move two checkers individually. The trick of the game is to know that whenever a checker is on a space by itself, it's vulnerable to the opposition. Although you cannot physically put your piece on a point that is occupied by two or more of the opponent's checkers, you can land on it if there is merely one checker on that space, which then sends the piece to "the bar," the vertical divider in the middle of the board. With one of your own pieces on the bar, you can move no other piece, so your objective then becomes to get your piece off the bar. But this also means that you're starting from the enemy territory, and you must then bring that checker all the way around the entire board to your home space again. Once all the pieces are in your home space, you can begin moving them off the board, and specific dice rolls will allow you to do that. The strategy of the game is to minimize the risks you take with your pieces and to use your rolls as effectively as possible to get your pieces home quickly and safely.
Gameloft Backgammon offers several different versions of the traditional game, which can be played either one match at a time, in a tournament, or via two players in pass-and-play. The gameplay is identical in all of these modes, with the only exception being the type of opponent or how many games you're playing at one time. Points are allocated for sending your opponent's pieces to the bar and for how many pieces are left on the board when one person wins. The only sound is a catchy, albeit somewhat generic, little jingle. It's disappointing that there isn't more to the sound, although it isn't critical to playing backgammon. While the game looks good on the V551, we noticed that the computer player often takes quite a bit of time to plan its next move. This doesn't heighten the suspense of the game, only the boredom. There are a few moves you can even make on any given roll, so it shouldn't take the computer as long to plan its route as it would in a chess game, for example. This kicks the pacing down a little bit, which is unfortunate, because it drags out the game much longer than it should. This flaw aside, you can still play a good game of backgammon on your phone, which is ultimately all that matters.