Do you remember what it was like before the Internet existed? We used to have to read newspapers to find out about current affairs, use landline telephones to chat with our friends, go to physical shops if we wanted to buy something – and play board games to entertain ourselves.
Thankfully, those sepia-toned childhood memories of beating your granddad at Monopoly can be partially recreated on your smartphone. Granted, you won’t get the satisfaction of seeing your sister throw the board across the room when she lands on Boardwalk for the third consecutive time – but the digital experience is still an enjoyable one.
Here’s our pick of the top six classic board games you can now play on your phone!
Monopoly is the king of classic board games. It was invented way back in 1903 as a way to demonstrate the shortfalls of an economy that was dominated by monopolies, and has since gone on to sell more than 250,000,000 sets. The aim of the game is to drive your opponents into bankruptcy.
All parts of the game are faithfully recreated, including the famous playing pieces, the bank, and the ability to auction your properties.
There are three different levels of difficulty, and the game rules can be customized to match the way you used to play the physical version of the game. Multiplayer support is also available, but you and your fellow players will all need to have the game installed.
Seven columns, six rows, and a requirement to get four of your discs in a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal row. Sounds simple, right? Actually, it’s surprisingly complex – there are 4 trillion ways to fill a board and 2 trillion ways to get four-in-a-row.
While it’s true that Connect 4 was “solved” years ago (just make sure you go first and play in the center column), it can still provide hours of fun and frustration in equal measure.
There are no official versions of the game on either Android or iOS. Instead, you can choose from numerous free options.
The Android version with the best rating is “Four in a Row” (4.0 rating from 1,062 reviews). It lets you play on either a 2D or 3D board, has ten levels of computer difficulty, and supports multiple disc colors.
The best iOS version is “4 in a Row ONLINE” – it has four stars from 1,391 reviews. It offers 3D boards, lets you play against friends (via the Internet or via Bluetooth) or virtual opponents, provides you with multiple skins, and connects to your Facebook profile.
The Game of Life
Surprisingly, the roots of “The Game of Life” are even older than those of Monopoly. The original version was designed in 1860, with the modern game being released in 1960 to commemorate the original’s 100-year anniversary.
The game takes the player on a journey from college graduation to retirement, with events such as kids, jobs, mortgages, and marriage all featuring prominently. The winner is the person who has the most money at the end.
Like Monopoly, the official digital version of the game is developed by EA and is available on both Android and iOS. Features include the ability to play with up to three friends, animated tokens, 3D landscapes, and a “life journal” to track your game. The iOS version will also let you pair music from your iTunes account with in-game events.
Another classic board game, another EA release. Although “Words with Friends” became popular upon its release a few years ago, for that really nostalgic “classic board game feeling”, you need the original Scrabble.
It was first realized in the 1930s and became instantly popular as a “thinking person’s” game. The objective is to use your titles to make a word on the board – the more complicated your word and the more multiplier squares it intersects, the more points you will score.
The game is available on both Android and iOS. It has an in-game dictionary to help you maximize your scoring, a “teacher mode” which will retrospectively show you what your best available word was for each turn, the ability to challenge your friends via Facebook, and a speed mode for faster games.
Ludo (aka Parcheesi)
Ludo is derived from an 6th Century Indian game called “Pachisi”, though the simpler modern version first hit our shelves in 1896. Our American readers may know it by the brand name “Parcheesi”.
It supports 2-4 players, with the aim of the game being to get your four pawns from your nest to the central space before your opponents.
The best Android version is “Ludo“, while the leading iOS version is named “Simply Ludo“. The prior has three AI difficulty modes, can support up to four players on one device, and automatically saves when you leave the app. The iOS version offers all of the above, but also includes themed boards.
Snakes and Ladders (aka Chutes and Ladders)
Like Ludo, the game also originated in India. The world knows it as Snakes and Ladders, but in the US the snakes were replaced by chutes in 1943 after Milton Bradley discovered American school children reacted badly to them.
Whatever you call it, it’s a game you almost certainly played as a kid. There are 100 numbered squares, with the game’s sole objective being to get from square 1 to square 100 before anyone else. (Un)fortunately, your progress is either aided or hindered by the presence of ladders and snakes/chutes.
The most popular Android version is “Snakes & Ladders FREE” (four stars, 1,200+ reviews). It supports up to four human players, offers four different playing pieces, has several themed boards, and has lots of cool animations.
“Snakes & Ladders Game Online Lite” on the iOS lets you play friends via the iPhone’s Game Center, has six different boards, allows for Bluetooth gaming, and supports offline play.
Your Favorite Classics?
What did we miss? There’s so many classic board games out there it’s impossible to cover them all. Have you found a great mobile version of Battleships? How about Cluedo? Or Pictionary?
We’d love to hear your recommendations. Just let us know your thoughts in the comments below.