A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Kids can learn strategy and practice counting by seeing the number of stones in a house then counting in sequence to see where their handful of stones will end. Depending on the situation with that last stone, kids decide which house to move. The strategy lies in thinking ahead and being on the lookout to capture or avoid capture. There are three levels of difficulty, three to six stones to start, and live or online opponents. Mancala: FS5 is one of many classic mancala games with lots of play options but not the best help features.
Ease of Play
The app is easy to play, particularly if you have played the actual game of mancala before. If not, the Help section explains both how the game works, and how the various modes of the app work. The interface is straightforward and makes sense.
Products & Purchases
The free version of the app is ad-supported, and the ads are generally not kid-friendly. Depending on the version of the app you have, you may be able to remove ads through an in-app purchase. Also, there are additional themes that can be used for the board and stones; some of these are free, but several require "credits" to purchase. While small amounts of credits can be earned by winning and playing Mancala: FS5, there are also options to buy large numbers of credits as in-app purchases, or earn "free" credits by signing up for various services from partners. Tapping on the FlipSide5 logo on the main menu brings up a few other games by the developer.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mancala: FS5 is a digital version of the classic (and ancient) board game mancala. The app is easy to use and works like the actual game. Users can share high scores via the Game Center social network, but participation is optional. In-game chatting with random opponents is limited to a drop-down menu of stock phrases, so this limits privacy and safety concerns when playing against strangers.
Is It Any Good?
MANCALA: FS5 is an excellent digital version of basic mancala, a game where you are trying to capture more stones than your opponent. The app is versatile, allowing for single player against the computer or two-player games against an opponent using the same device, a nearby device (via wi-fi or Bluetooth), a random online opponent, or a friend through Game Center or Mobage. Graphics are sharp and crisp. The interface is clean and easy to use, without a lot of bells and whistles other than the optional themes.
The themes are basically "skins" that let you dress up the board and stones in a different look, but do not affect the gameplay. Some themes are free, but you'll have to pay for others using credits, which you can earn by playing games or through in-app purchases and signing up for offers. If you have a free version of the app, it's worth it to pay for the upgrade that removes ads, as they are generally not kid-friendly.
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