Croom is a table-top game popular across parts of Asia and the rest of the world, and now it’s come to Facebook. The app is called Carrom Challenge, and it should be interesting to fans of the physical game — although it could improve on how it uses social features.
Essentially, carrom is a game most similar to pool. Of course, the big difference is that this game of “billiards” is about the size of a table and one uses their finger, shooting from only one side of the board, instead of a big stick to flick a large disk called a striker (basically a cue ball) . Presumably originating in the regions of India and Pakistan – and still exceedingly popular there – the board game requires players to use the striker to sink all nine of their disks and a special one called the red queen. The trick is that after sinking the queen, the player must sink one of their own discs to “cover” it.
Granted, this is all a summation of the game, and certainly doesn’t cover all aspects of it (especially all the different variations from around the world), but for the purposes of Carrom Challenge, it will more than suffice. Developed by two individuals, the title most closely represents the Pakistani and India versions. In the app, the player is able to choose from three modes, with each tailoring to a different form of player style.
The first is Challenge mode which is pretty much your basic, more traditional, version of carrom. Players are given a random “challenger” that appears to be a non-player character to face off against. Taking turns, shooting from the opposite sides of the board, each player attempts to win with the basic carrom rules. However, in order to win, one must not only sink their nine discs, but also, the red queen before their last.
The play itself is not bad at all. In order to shoot, all users need do is click on their side of the board to place the striker and drag in the opposite direction to determine power – think pinball. The game will give the user a ghosted visual of where the shot will go and after that, it’s release and pray. Truthfully, however, it all works pretty well. The physics are pretty decent, and the momentum feels about the strength it would be for a real human finger. Sometimes it does feel a bit easy to sink the discs though. Most of the time, they pretty much go in if they even get close, unless you have a tremendous amount of momentum, which is something that can’t be said about pool. Likely though, this is just more the nature of the actual game itself, and not the app.
The other two modes are simple variations of the main challenge mode. These consist of the Time Lapse and Century Game. The former is a more urgent and faster-paced version of Challenge, with the obvious difference being a time limit (exceeding which equals a lose). The latter, on the other hand, is the polar opposite, with the objective being to earn 100 points. Frankly, the mode earns its name as each disk of your color only earns 5 points, the other player’s color is worth 3, and every time you miss, you loose 2.
In addition to the three modes, players are also able to earn and unlock new boards to play on as well as extra characters to play against. For the most part, this appears to be a mere aesthetic and difficulty enhancement respectively. Regardless, neither make for a bad addition.
Overall, Carrom Challenge is not a bad game at all, and for those that may have played the American version as a kid, it might prove a very nostalgic and fun experience. That said, it is rather disappointing on the social front. By disappointing, we mean more or less non-existent. As it stands, there is no visible way to invite your friends, and unexpectantly, no way to play against other players in either an asynchronous or synchronous fashion. It’s truly surprising to find a Facebook app that turns out to not make use of Facebook or the social graph. Hopefully, a “yet” can be added to that last sentence, and likely that is the case. Considering it is an app developed by just two people, and many social games are far from “done” when they release, it is hopefully a set of mechanics still on the “to do” list.