Party Doodles

Developer:  Cerebral Gardens
Download:  Get on iTunes
Official link:  Party Doodles
Price: Free (in-app purchases available)

If you’re looking for fun and free games for iPad that you can play with a big group of people, consider Party Doodles. It enables you to play a Pictionary-like game on your very own virtual chalkboard. It’s at its best when you have Apple TV or some other means of connecting your iPad to a big screen. Will your teammates be wowed by your works of art? Or laughing so hard that they’re unable to guess?

Party Doodles is a handheld chalkboard, and it takes that theme and runs with it. All of the backgrounds and buttons and text look like they’ve been drawn with chalk. It’s pretty charming and looks very crisp on the iPad. Fortunately, if you accidentally draw with your fingernail, it’s not so realistic as to make that horrible noise!

If you’re unfamiliar with Pictionary (or, in today’s world, Draw Something), it’s ultimately a guessing game. One person on a team is a given a phrase to depict. As he attempts to draw it, his teammates have to guess what the phrase is based on the drawing. If a teammate answers correctly within the time limit, that team gets a point. If not, the other team gets a chance to steal the point by correctly guessing the phrase. Teams take turns back and forth until the game ends, and the team with the most points is the winner.

The actual drawing portion of Party Doodles is pretty much what you would expect. Much of the iPad screen is utilized as a drawing area, so there’s plenty of space. However, if you do need more room, you can select one of the additional boards on the side of the screen. Doing so will save the portion you’ve already drawn, and you can switch back to it at any time.

As far as drawing utensils, you have a choice of eight different colors to work with. You can also adjust the thickness of the line that draws. It can be very skinny like a pencil or very wide like a paintbrush. There’s also an eraser that can remove small sections of your artwork or the entire board if you double tap it.

In addition to providing you with the means to draw, Party Doodles seeks to handle the basic elements of a Pictionary game. It splits you into two teams, and you can input up to ten names per team. You then set how many rounds you want to play and how long each round is. There’s not a whole lot of customization available here as you’re only given three choices for each option, but it’s sufficient.

Before starting a game, you also need to select the card pack you wish to use. These are the phrases that the players will be attempting to draw. The game comes with one free pack already loaded, and it contains a random collection of famous movies, people, songs, and things. You also have the option to purchase additional card packs with real money. Each one has its own theme, ranging from pop culture references by decade to common, everyday expressions.

When it’s your turn to draw, you are presented with three cards from the card pack. There’s some strategy involved here because the only clue you are given before you choose is the phrase’s category and its difficulty (easy, medium, or hard). Hard phrases are obviously more difficult to draw, but they are also worth more points. Thus, you’ll have to decide if it’s better to take a risk for your team or just play it safe, particularly if you’re not a very good artist.

Parents should be aware that the free card pack that comes with the game is probably not that great for kids. It’s full of old movies and music that kids wouldn’t know, and it even has the occasional alcoholic drink. One in particular is “Sex on the Beach,” which, uh, they probably shouldn’t be drawing…

The good thing is that you can ultimately play however you want. Party Doodles might work best just as a portable chalkboard with a built-in timer. You could come up with your own categories and phrases and go from there. You could even institute your own rules such as allowing the current player to draw out dashes for the number of words in the phrase.

For what it is, Party Doodles is done well and with style. If you want to play Pictionary on your TV, then this is the best iPad game to do so. I must admit that it’s rather depressing to play this game by yourself when you’re testing it for a review. No one was able to witness my hilarious representation of the popular TV show “Law & Order.” However, if you have a lot of friends or even a few, this could be a good party game or icebreaker.

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