iPad / iPhone review: Honey, That’s Mine!

Honey, That's Mine! screenshot

Honey, That’s Mine! is game for the iPhone and iPad from two Canadian developers, Saskatoon’s Nate Heagy and Montreal’s Jeffrey Vanneste.  The game is meant to feel like a high quality port of an existing board game, as if the physical real world version of Honey, That’s Mine! was as well known and beloved as Monopoly or Scrabble.  The fact that it’s not actually based on a beloved board game both hinders and frees the developers in interesting ways.  The game’s a dual format application, meaning that it will run fine on both an iPhone and an iPad without having to magnify the program like iPad users need to do with iPhone only programs.

Graphics:  The game’s graphics are simple, yet enjoyable.  They actually work a bit better on the iPhone, where the large characters are appreciated on such a small screen.  The characters are cartoonish and inviting.  On the iPad they’re a little bit larger than needed, and with the increased capabilities of the iPad it’s a bit of a missed opportunity to do something new and interesting.

Game play:  Players take turns positioning their three been characters on the game board.  The object is to land on spaces containing honey with adds the honey to your score.  The more honey you bees collect the better your score and as you can probably guess the player with the highest score when the game ends wins.  It sounds simple enough, and I was playing the game right away after only the briefest of glances at the instructions.  However getting good and winning, especially against the computer, requires a little more than just plopping bees down willy-nilly. 

Since the bees can only move in a straight line and can’t cross empty spaces or other bees, it’s easy for your bees to get boxed in and trapped thus taking them out of the game.  My first game I could not tell why the computer’s bees where not focusing on scoring honey points until I realized they were working to trap my own bees.  Soon I had more points than the computer, but nowhere to move allowing their mechanized bees to clean up the board for victory. 

Honey, That’s Mine! plays like a board game, and is probably best used playing with other people, but it’s a board game that probably would not have worked in real life.  Trying to keep track of exactly where the bees can land is a bit taxing when playing with two, but without the provided computer assistance would be frustrating. 

It is disapointing that there’s no landscape mode.  On the iPhone this isn’t as noticeable, but it seems like an oversight on the iPad where it’s a more natural way of holding the device.  Likely this is just one of those things that weren’t thought of since it’s likely the developers did not have their hands on an iPad while building out that version. 

Other:  The game crashes a lot on the beta version of iPhone OS 4.0, but then again a lot of apps do and that has as much to do with the OS being beta than it has to do with the app.  On my iPad I had no issues, apart from one game where the computer’s bees were replaced with blank white boxes anytime they were animated in motion.  Closing and re-opening the app fixed it and I could not reproduce the issue.

All in all it’s a fun game, and it’s easy to recommend it at the $1.99 price.  However it’s certainly going to be a better experience as a multi-player game so my recommendation is strenghted if you’re going to be playing it with other people.