It seems like no franchise is complete without its own iOS game. Even board games are getting in on the App Store action. The latest franchise to take the plunge is a bit of a strange one. Fort Boyard was a French game show that pioneered the use of fear and endurance in many of its challenges. Set in the actual French outpost of Fort Boyard, the show pushed many of its contestants to their physical and mental limits with challenging obstacles and mind bending puzzles. Let's see if the Fort Boyard game tests the limits of fun, or simply your patience.
Once you tap open the app, you're given the choice between a "New Game" and "Free Mode." Starting a new game will give you the choice between playing a 10 or 20 minute game with the option to unlock a 30 minute game later. The format of this mode is similar to that of the TV show. You are given a series of challenges in order to earn clues as to the password which will gain you entrance to Fort Boyard's vault which is full of gold.
If you are a fan of the TV series, you will recognize the watercolored interpretations of some of the show's hosts. They will walk you through each challenge's rules before turning your brain loose to solve some of the puzzles and feats.
This is where the real problems start to arise. Many of the so called challenges involve exhaustive and extremely repetitive gestures that are sure to induce carpal tunnel syndrome. One game has you swiping your finger around in endless circles as fast as you can until it's so fatigued, you can't even answer text messages. This would be slightly acceptable if the mini games involved in each of the challenges were intelligent and unique. Sadly, they aren't. You'll find yourself in a shooting gallery having to use a very unresponsive gyroscope or treated to a game of Simon. This could all be saved by some intriguing art direction, but sadly it is all rendered in the same monochrome-like watercolor.
Occasionally you'll see some animation featured in the games, but it's stiffer than kids dancing at their junior prom.
Finally, once you've made it through all of the challenges and solved each of the exceedingly easy riddles, you get to collect the gold from the vault. But does the game reward you for all the finger fatigue and frustration you've gone through to get this far? Nope! In order to gather the gold, you must play a management game using a half dozen characters to collect the gold from one pot and deposit it in the other. Oh, joy.
Finally, after you've played through the main game on various difficulties, you can enter the Free Mode which allows you to relive all the knuckle busting frustration of each of the challenges and mini games individually. This mode is for those of you who enjoy grinding for high scores and that digital pat on the back for your oh so fragile ego. You're better off using your time to farm boars in World of Warcraft.
Really, the Fort Boyard game is a cheap and bland tie in to an old reality game show. It is so boring and forgettable that you'll forget what that icon on your home screen is even for. If you're a fan of exercising your mind or finger dexterity, you can do much better. I suppose fans of the original TV show would enjoy the novelty of playing with their favorite hosts and participating in strangely touchscreen formed versions of their favorite games, but I think even the most hardcore fans would be sorely disappointed.
The Fort Boyard game show might have set the bar for reality game shows in the past, but it certainly raises the bar in boredom in the App Store.