Café International (universal) by Application Systems is an award-winning German board/card game for one to four players. Now on iPhone and iPad, the experience translates flawlessly from the dining room table to the touch screen, adding some new modes and challenges for players to enjoy.
For those who haven’t heard or played it before, Cafe International is a game about multiculturalism. It takes place on a diamond-shaped arrangement of ‘tables’, with four spots around them for different people to sit in. There are no dice involved: players have a handful of cards, and place them one or two at a time around the board, matching the people on the cards by the country’s flag, designated on each tabletop.
With each turn, players try to score points creating pairs and filling out tables. There are restrictions: no two men or women can sit at table alone, and the numbers must always be balanced. If there is one woman and two men at a table, only a woman can join them to make the foursome complete. Big points are awarded for clearing multiple tables at a table, which can turn the tide of a game in an instant.
What makes the game so fun is the fluid nature of the play; once a table is cleared, a new tile card from a different country takes it place. Strategies developed over two or three moves can be shut down with a single card, which keeps players on their toes and paying attention to everything happening on the board.
It makes for a great multiplayer experience – and unlike most board games, Cafe features a singe-player Solitaire mode that is a different, more puzzle-based kind of experience. I also liked how the game offers both a timed and untimed mode, so people can either take their time, or force each other to think on their feet.
With great gameplay, clean Retina presentation, and bonuses like single-player modes and Game Center achievements, Cafe International is arguably better than its cardboard counterpart – especially without having to clean up afterward. A great addition to any family’s digital board game collection, or fans of strategy board games looking for something a little lighter.