Other Board Games, Take Note Of Tokaido's Mobile Port

Luke's written about Tokaido, the lovely board game that's all about having a holiday in Japan. Now that's adorable and all, but the mobile adaptation is stunning in a way that should be a template for other board games.

One of the biggest problems board games have when making the digital translation is the UI. There's often a temptation to display things in a board-game like fashion: all out in front, everything visible, irrespective to the clutter created on the screen.

Principally, this isn't a terrible idea. There's plenty of instances where you need a birds eye view of everything, particularly in wargames, hex-based strategy, or anything where routes might be at a premium (Ticket to Ride is a simple example).

A shot of the Tokaido board game.

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But sometimes it's just as important to hide information - or at least know how to hide it enough - for clarity.

Tokaido does this very well.

The original Tokaido board, which maps out the road from Kyoto to Edo (which is now called Tokyo), is basically a long board that folds into three pieces. You've got a score counter at the top, and a few slots for various decks. Beyond that, most of the cards are placed outside of the game board.

In a way, it makes translating Tokaido to phones a lot easier: when the game doesn't flood the board with information, you're not required to follow suit with the digital version.

Each "traveller" basically has a special advantage and different starting gold, and you can press the "?" icon in the bottom to randomly pick between two characters, just like the board game.

There's some really neat quality of life changes, though. Apart from the fact that there's a timer in the top left — always hand for reminding yourself how much time you've wasted away — there's also a counter that breaks the game into "days".

The board game itself doesn't do this. There are three intermediary inns between Kyoto and Tokyo, and players must stop at each one. This is pretty obvious when you're looking at the whole board. The mobile port zooms the action in so you can focus on the animations, the transitions, and the style. Consequently, having a little notifier like that helps tons.

The road from Kyoto to Tokyo is outlined at the bottom, and you can travel to the next spot of your choice by double-tapping on the icon of choice, or swiping forward on the road. It's intuitive, clean, and pretty much all the things most board game adaptations aren't.

Each character has their total score neatly outlined at the bottom, and a single tap outlines the rest of the info you need at a glance.

The achievements screen is a little more cluttered, although it's unavoidable. Each column lists the various bonus points players can earn at the end of the game, ranging from amount of money spent on meals, amount of souvenirs bought, hot springs visited, and so on.

In any case, Tokaido is a great little game with a fantastic mobile rendition. The game does tend to mess up a little on Android - it tends to crash if you try and switch apps, although you can save games manually with the touch of a button. That aside, it's available for a few bucks on Android and iOS — not bad for a game about holiday in Japan.


    It helps a lot that Tokaido is already a very simple, minimalist game to begin with.

    I want to get the deluxe edition of the board game. But it's SO expensive...

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