Connect 4 Cities Review

By Joel Brodie |

This ain’t your daddy’s Connect Four.

Of course you remember the Hasbro four-in-a-row tabletop game from your youth – sit across from an opponent at table and drop black or red checkers into a upright-standing yellow board.

The goal is to align at least four of your checkers in a row — vertically, horizontally or diagonally – before your opponent does the same.

Ah, the memories come flooding back: the shag rug, the wood-paneling on the walls and Kiss’ Beth crackling on the ‘ol turntable.

Now this classic game is back in computer form — and with some grown-up twists, too.

Connect Four Cities is PlayFirst’s latest downloadable digital diversion, which takes the original game concept and introduces multiple game modes, more than 20 “wild” checkers and even a multiplayer option to play against friends in other cities over the Net.

Game-play is straightforward: select your checker from the dial in the upper left corner of the screen, then click above a column to drop the checker down it. Now it’s your opponent’s turn to drop a checker onto the board. If you create a four-in-a-row, money is added to your meter. Whomever reaches the predetermined dollar amount first will win the level and advance to the next stage.

Besides the Classic mode, which lets you play Connect Four against the computer’s artificial intelligence (A.I.), the main single-player game is called Cities, where you will travel to a half-dozen U.S. locations – namely, New York, Seattle, Houston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, DC – each with their own unique graphics and building (board) designs. So, instead of the 7 x 7 grid found in the original plastic version of Connect Four, players will enjoy the ever-changing “building” designs, which keeps things fresh and introduces new strategies as you try to stump your opponent. In total, the game includes 60 buildings, or ten per city.

Adding even more strategy to the mix are special wild checkers introduced every so often, represented by a small icon in the middle of the chip. For example, the Drill will drill down onto the checker beneath it and take its place. The Cha-Cha checker moves all of the checkers in the same row one space over to the left or to the right (as indicated by the direction of the feet inside the checker). As its name suggests, the Anvil drops straight down to the bottom of the column. Other clever power-ups include the exploding Boom, the gravity-defying Helium (rises to the top of the column) and the different kinds of Wood checkers, which cannot be used to make a Connect Four for either player.

The third major feature of the game is Internet play. Simply click Multiplayer from the main menu and players will immediately be logged into an online lobby where you can look for a game (Cities or Classic modes). You can choose to host a game and invite players to join or meet up with friends by establishing a code (e.g. “Connect With Marc”) to distinguish your game from others. You can even find a game based on difficulty or select whether or not you’d like to chat while playing.

Connect Four Cities is also a feast for the eyes and ears; despite the fact the game is just checkers dropping onto a board, the developers did a great job in the graphics, sound effects and in the music department.

Perfect for 10 minutes of play or to waste away a rainy Sunday afternoon, Connect Four Cities is a highly polished, attractive and addictive spin on an old favorite. Kudos to PlayFirst – they’ve done it again.

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