Skip-Bo doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Everyone loves Uno, with its in-your-face reverses and draw-four’s. And who hasn’t spent sleepy hours playing solitaire, with its convenient single-player design and use of traditional playing cards. Poor, overlooked Skip-Bo fits somewhere between these two extremes. It’s not as colorful as Uno, or as simple to play as solitaire. But it’s a great way to pass the time, and we hope the new iPhone version brings this game to a larger audience.
Like solitaire, Skip-Bo is all about laying down cards in sequential order. The deck contains numbered cards ranging from one to 12, as well as a bunch of wild “Skip-Bo” cards. In a two-player match, each person starts with a “stock” pile of 30 cards, with the top card visible to both players. The goal of the game is to play your entire “stock” pile into communal “build” piles in the middle of the table.
To help you work through your stack, you have a hand of five cards and several discard piles that you can play from. You and your opponent take turns laying cards in sequential order onto the “build” piles, while trying to get rid of all the cards in your “stock” pile. It sounds more complicated than it is, although we’re disappointed that there’s no playable tutorial here. Instead, if you’re not familiar with the game’s rules, prepare to read a block of text.
A pastel-colored numerical wonderland.
The iPhone game offers everything the physical deck does and more. You can play single-player games against the computer, or you can hop online through Game Center to play against friends or random opponents. The online matches work just fine, but if you’re playing in real time it can be excruciating to wait for your turn. That’s not the fault of the developers, but it would be nice if they included an easier way to switch between your current games. Some kind of chat feature would be appreciated, too.
The presentation is fairly barebones, but adequate. There’s no audio aside from the sound of cards shuffling. That allows you to listen to podcasts or Spotify while you play, which some players will find preferable. Nor is there an undo button, which would come in very handy, considering the cards are tiny on the iPhone screen. We’d also love to see them make the game universal. Doubling the screen size on an iPad works fine, but it’s a little blurry.
Skip-Bo for iPhone is a perfectly suitable version of the underrated card game. It doesn’t have many bells and whistles, but it covers the basics, including an online multiplayer mode. So put aside the familiar card games for a few weeks and give this one a try. You’ll probably find it as hard to put down as we did.