Ever-shifting card game Fluxx makes transition to mobile screens

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I’ve been in love with the card game Fluxx for years. Part of the reason has to do with the game’s many themed special editions (Cthulhu, Zombie, Pirate, Stoner…), but mostly it’s the simple core mechanics. Draw a card, play a card, and adapt to the clear rules that unfold as you play new cards that change the number of cards you can hold or have in play. Even the goal of the game can shift on a moment’s notice: A “Milk and Cookies” goal that lets you win if you play the Milk and Cookies cards can suddenly be replaced with “Rocket Science” requiring a Rocket card and a Brain card — you may have had Milk, getting you halfway to your goal, then the whole game resets with a different goal. It’s maddening, and it’s a lot of fun.

Now, Looney Labs has launched Fluxx in the App Store for iOS devices with mobile video game publisher Playdek. The game, which sells for $2.99 and was released Dec. 13, is available for iOS devices 3rd generation and later, and is optimized for iPhone 5 screens as well.

You can play offline or online against human or AI opponents, or pass your device around for in-person multiplayer. Rules have been streamlined for this edition, and achievements are displayed in Apple’s Game Center. You can even invite Game Center friends to play Fluxx, and maintain multiple saved game sessions. And there’s an in-app card gallery, tutorial and rulebook for those who are new to the game.

How does Fluxx translate to digital play? The card text is small for iPhone/iPod Touch use, but on an iPad it’s OK — and on an iPad mini, it’s just right. The AI isn’t very challenging, so while this could have been the perfect solution to playing Fluxx solo, it still works best when you have a live partner, either in person for pass-and-play mode or online.

All told, Fluxx doesn’t quite feel like it’s worth the $2.99 price tag — 99 cents or $1.99 is more like it — but it’s very close, and you’re not likely to regret the purchase. It’s a good, if imperfect, attempt to bring a classic card game to the mobile screen. And hopefully it’s the beginning of something great.

A copy of the game was provided for review purposes.

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