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Kahuna Review (iOS)

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Every year there’s a number of card games that come out, with each one determined to make a mark. Kahuna has risen up in the ranks as a card game, but the iPhone/iPad version still needs a bit of work done in the technical department in order to let players enjoy the application.

Kahuna is a neat little strategy card game that integrates conquering with a cool island theme. In the game, you’re one of two Kahunas who are determined to take over this group of islands for yourself. The goal is for each player to take what he believes is rightfully his through building bridges and taking over land before the other can do so. Each player has the opportunity to demolish a bridge through skillful card-picking and a little bit of luck. Kahuna lasts for about three rounds, and by the end the person with the highest number of points wins the islands and the game.

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The card game mechanics take a while to get used to, but once you get the hang of the things, it’s easy to slip into competitive mode. The computer is a fairly tough opponent, thinking a few steps ahead of you as it tries to conquer whatever islands may have your handprint on them. The limited amount of moves that you can make per turn force you to really plot out your strategy. The computer and you can see three cards, one of which you can pick up when it’s your turn. The real question is whether or not the opposing player will wise up and grab the card you need before your turn, which could potentially ruin your next move. Strategizing in Kahuna iis the most mentally appetizing part of it all, which explains why it’s been a popular card game for so long.

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At this point you may be asking yourself, “How do you play?” Well it is a little complex to wrap your head around at first, but there’s nothing like a simple tutorial to help answer your questions and save you from the potential headaches that could ensue. The bad part is that the Kahuna app does little to help you grasp your overall understanding of this game. The only tutorial section pops up within your first two rounds, and after that your fictional tutorial god vanishes, never to be seen again. While you may not have the tutorial man popping up during a round, you can still find a list of the rules on the main page. Kahuna relies a lot on practice in order to understand how to play the card game, so the more you try, the better you can become.

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A fair number of phone users have a card game or two that they play for their own personal enjoyment. My card game of choice is solitaire, and while it may not contain the most glamorous of graphics, it still allows me to enjoy playing what I love. Kahuna turns this card game into a small flurry of neat graphics. When a player uses a card to take over an island that’s conquered by another, the other bridges explode around it, leaving nothing but a black mark where they used to be. The sounds in Kahuna enhance the experience too, echoing the waves and shore life noises that would take you away to dreams of a far off tropical island. It’s the soothing, relaxing sound of the sea integrated with the bright and detailed graphics of the islands you’re trying to conquer that really get you engrossed in each round.

When you’re dealing with a brand new app, no matter what kind it is, the program will fall to the occasional glitch. Kahuna has a couple of software bumps in the programming, but they’re so apparent that it could ultimately derail the fun in playing this game. If you can’t figure out how to save the latest game of Kahuna you’re playing on the app, then you’re going to lose it the minute you exit. In various iPhone/iPad games, there’s always the opportunity for the app to either save the recent progress you’ve made on whatever you’re playing or freeze the moment you jump onto another part of your phone. If you’re receiving a text or, heaven forbid, get a sudden phone call, not only will the game restart but you will be automatically bumped back to the main page. Any recent progress you made on that round is now gone, and you have to start it all over again.

In my continual gameplay I ran into these problems with Kahuna, and they gradually got worse. There were a couple moments where my screen would completely freeze in the middle of gameplay, with no other phone application interfering with Kahuna. After a couple minutes have passed, I would ultimately have to admit defeat and restart the application, beginning a brand new round all over again. If you’re interested in playing the Kahuna app with another friend of yours, you may want to think twice until some fixes are instituted.

The idea of translating Kahuna from a real life card game to an iPhone/iPad application is brilliant, and it brings in more people who may not have been aware of it’s existence in the first place. Playing Kahuna when you’re in a competitive spirit can be incredibly entertaining, but slightly irritating at the same time. Unfortunately, the bugs in this application are enough to suck the excitement out of any player, and you’ll find that spirit broken more often than not.

 This review was completed using a purchased copy of Kahuna for iOS.

App Store Link: Kahuna for iPhone & iPad | By United Soft Media | Price: $1.99 | Version: 1.0 | 40.8 MB | Rating: 4+

5.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating

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