Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Nihon Ki-in's Own!

From the March 10th AGA E-Journal, volume 9, #12, a review by Justin Carmical 14k:
"Umezawa Yukari no Yasashii Igo" (Yukari Umezawa's Easy Go) is, as far as I know, the first licensed Nihon Ki'in Igo/Go game for the Nintendo DS. The impressive point about this fine little piece of software is that after you play a certain mode it will rank you and then give you a password to apply for an official Nihon Ki'in rank from 10 kyu to Shodan.

Too often, computer go games are just that... computer-looking. Dull. But this one begins with a small caricature of Yukari Umezawa (consultant for the Hikaru no Go series). This inclusion of a professional player is very nice, as well as her actual voice saying "Good luck" and "Thank you for the game".

The buttons are large and the typeface is easy to read (well, for those who read Japanese). The touch controls are superb in that to place a stone onto the digital Goban, you need to touch that place twice. This makes for fewer mistakes, and is also a great learning feature as the first touch places a red dot.

What really made this title shine for me, however, was the ability for the computer to resign. A good chunk into my first 19x19 game (about 180-190 stones in) the computer took its time accessing the board and resigned. This was a first for me for computer go games as usually the computer will play to the very end no matter the situation.

It also boasts a study area with over 1300 life and death, joseki, and fuseki problems of varying difficulty levels to keep you occupied and discussing with friends for quite some time.

It's always nicer to play against a human opponent, but while humans may miss a crucial mistake, a computer opponent most will likely not. This ruthlessness aids beginners and novices in their play, allowing for learning and growth, which is the sole purpose of "Umezawa Yukari no Yasashii Igo." For a Nintendo DS game to take with you on the go, this is a wonderful little title to add to your collection.

Now I really want it!
[Update 2008/3/14 - Ordered March 13 from Play-Asia.com. I'll keep you posted.]
[Update 2008/3/20 - Shipped (& Invoiced) March 20 from Play-Asia.com.]
[Update 2008/4/1 - Got mine! Arrived from Hong Kong via U.S.P.S., air mail bubble pack as advertised.]

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