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You’ll be nursing more than a bruised ego if your friends come out ahead in Bam Fu, an entertaining same-screen multiplayer game from the makers of Fingle that quickly turns into a full-contact sport. However, redemption won’t be so sweet when the novelty wears off. A free-for-all battle to turn virtual pebbles your way with kung-fu-like speed and precision, Bam Fu is best played on a full-sized iPad laid flat between a few friends, although you could get a decent two-player experience on an iPhone.
Tapping on pebbles cycles through two to four colors – depending on the number of players – each of which points toward its same-hued champion’s corner. If the majority of the board is your color, you win the round. Win five rounds to claim bragging rights. You’ll want to disable multitasking gestures to avoid any app-switching mishaps as several or more fingers battle for supremacy.
It may take a few practice rounds for everyone to pick up the rules, but after that you could be in for a wild ride. Improvised strategies dominate play, with all kinds of subterfuge, tomfoolery, pattern reading, temporary alliances, and mock violence seeping into every game. The best fun comes when four friends battle it out under the presumption that manhandling is expected (provided all nails are trimmed, for safety reasons), in what becomes a chaotic struggle to hold the others off while simultaneously turning pebbles to your corner.
Highly-polished, tongue-in-cheek presentation and a variety of different layout patterns make Bam Fu feel fresh, but neither of these stand as enough to hold everybody’s interest over prolonged or repeated sessions – especially when rounds reach a stalemate where two players just won’t let up.
The bottom line. Bam Fu’s hectic same-device multiplayer is finger-bashing fun, but the shallow gameplay ultimately taps itself out of contention for anything other than a short bout.
iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone running iOS 5.1 or later
Chaotic fun that stretches beyond the screen. Easy to learn. Slick presentation.
Gets old too fast. No timers means that close battles tend to drag on.