If you are unfamiliar with Ticket to Ride, I suggest that you read my full review of the iPad version of the game first. This pocket edition retains the same fun and addictive gameplay of the iPad release (and the original boardgame that inspired it). It is obvious that the development team took great care and thought when designing the iPhone release. Rather than just shrinking down the iPad version and calling it a day, they crafted a pleasurable user experience shifting around gameplay elements into an intuitive manner to allow for easy gameplay with minimal zooming.
Ticket to Ride Pocket offers players the same robust single player mode from the iPad release with the ability to play against up to 5 AI players (with a choice of 4 personalities), along with 20 Game Center achievements and its own distinct leaderboards capturing the highest scores in the 2-3 player and 4-5 player game modes.
As for multiplayer, that’s where (by design) the Pocket edition falls a little short of its older sibling. It offers the pass and play multiplayer on a single device as well as a Local Play mode which allows players to connect to one another’s devices (including the iPad) using local WiFi or Bluetooth for a multiplayer game. I tried out the Local Play mode between my iPhone and iPad over my home’s WiFi network and it worked flawlessly. Unfortunately the one multiplayer mode that is absent from Ticket to Ride Pocket is online multiplayer.
The decision to leave out this functionality was a conscious one by the development team. “We care deeply about the Ticket to Ride Online player experience, and are unwilling to compromise it with the issues inherent to mobile play (impromptu phone calls, spotty cellular coverage, etc.).” Until I experienced the wonderful online multiplayer gameplay on the iPad myself, and saw just how well they transitioned dropped players to AI players I would have completely agreed with this statement. However, if Days Of Wonder could implement this same system with the iPhone or restrict online gameplay to WiFi connections only, I don’t see why this couldn’t work just as smoothly. I hope they revisit this decision sometime in the future.
The only other thing missing from this Pocket-sized version are the additional maps. “Since the other maps (Europe, Switzerland) offered in Ticket to Ride for iPad have a level of detail (placing train stations in cities, etc.) that does not lend itself well to the screen size of current mobile devices. Rather than provide a sub-par game experience, we chose to keep those out.” Having played some of the other maps myself on the iPad release, this is a decision I fully understand and support. In fact, I commend Days Of Wonder for this decision, because they could have just thrown this in to make a few extra bucks on IAPs, but instead they respected the game and their customers. I would rather have a game restricted to the one map than constantly having to be zooming in and out to play my turn.
Ticket to Ride Pocket makes this magical board game accessible to a brand new audience of iOS device owners. Days Of Wonder have done a nice, thoughtful job translating the game to the smaller screen. While it cannot replace the iPad experience, it is a high quality product in its own right. The lack of online multiplayer is a little bit disappointing, but even without this functionality the game is still a very fun and satisfying way to get your Ticket to Ride fix anywhere, anytime. At a launch price of just 99¢ this really is a must have game for any iOS device owner (even if you already own the iPad release).