App version: 1.0.4
Device: iPod Touch 4th ed
Operating system: iOS 6.1.6
A rather basic take on the Knight’s Tour puzzle; simple and fun though probably in small doses.
Tiger Knight Patrol is a free app (without advertising) by the developed JAGS (Japan Art Gear Systems) development team. It is available for both iPod and iPad devices though on the latter critical bugs render the app pretty much unplayable.
The idea is refreshingly simple – to conduct Knight moves around all the 64 squares of a chessboard in such a way that the same square isn’t visited twice and that no squares are missed.
This app includes the Knights Tour problem of the traditional 8 x 8 square chessboard but adds the twist in that it offers different board layout sizes and designs.
The app itself is very easy to use – it is a question of simply just tapping a square to start – the app will then show the available moves in a different colour (yellow). All subsequent moves are made by tapping the square of your choice. The app will keep a record as you progress of the number of different squares visited. If you go wrong or want to try a different route, there is also an ‘undo’ option and the puzzle can be started afresh with a ‘Reset’ option.
The app offers a total of 20 different layouts to solve. These seem well thought out in terms of the variety of difficulty, starting from a very simple 3 x 3 square board to a cross or heart shaped 10 x 10 sized chessboard. A good design feature lies in the fact that whilst it is natural to progress up the individual puzzles in order of difficulty, the user isn’t forced to solve a particular puzzle before moving on to another one. The downside here is that if you are taking the layouts ‘in order’ you will be moving on to an even harder test – not very encouraging if you are struggling with the easier one!
Herein lies the main drawback of the app – this being that there are no solutions or more importantly hints available. It means that if you get stuck on a particular board (as I was for a long time on the 5 x 6 board) then you really are stuck and as a result it is much easier to lose interest in the app. Having had this app myself for several years, I find I play it actively for short periods but then quickly give up frustrated returning to it probably several months later (after I have forgotten my frustration!).
It is also easy to think of some additional features that would benefit the app. In particular, the ability for users to design their own boards would add even greater choice and add longer term interest. (This would perhaps add a little complexity to the app in needing to check that designs still enabled valid tours of the board!).
On the tested device (iPod touch) the app works perfectly with no obvious sign of bugs or other errors. Sadly, the same experience can’t be said for use on an iPad. Tiger Patrol was obviously not developed with this platform in mind, and the app will totally freeze on completion of a particular puzzle or when the game history is cleared (‘initialization’ option selected).
Support for the user is not a strong feature of the app. The app is not difficult to use, and this probably explains why the developer hasn’t really bothered with any instructions. There is no guidance included within the app, nor is the iTunes app narrative very descriptive. The developer advertises support via a weblink but frustratingly – unless you are a student of Japanese – will be of little practical use. So there doesn’t seem much opportunity for offering feedback to aid for further development.
This is probably just as well as the bad news is that the app appears to be pretty much dead at the time of this review – it hasn’t been updated since February 2011. However, JAGS does have quite a number of live apps on the iTunes store some of which have been released or updated more recently than Knight Patrol, so there may still be hope. However, the lack of support for the iPad and correction of basic flaws is particularly disappointing.
- Free and ad-free
- Can be used on older devices (requires only ios 3.1.3 and above)
- Simple and easy to use
- Good range of different board sizes and types
- No solutions or hints to puzzles
- Lack of developer interest and update
- Unusable on the iPad
These are my thoughts; if you have used this app what do you think…..?