(Review too long? Scroll to the bottom to read my pros/cons and conclusion!)
The main draw of this game is that it is currently listed as Free to Windows 8.1 users. Personally, I’ve always been somewhat lukewarm towards Bingo. At times I recognize it for what it is – a way to get everyone to put their wealth into a bucket and then proceed in a very low-skill system to redistribute said wealth, with the house taking its cut. At other times, I like the mindlessness of it. The same issue of low-skill becomes sort of comforting, as you just sit there relaxing and marking your card and you forget about the money you invested…
Microsoft Bingo (Win 8) is pretty self-explanatory. For those who have never played bingo before (who are you?), the goal is to make a straight line pattern on your card so you can call bingo and win. You make this pattern by marking the numbers on your card when they are ‘pulled’ from the (imaginary) number generator. Specifically in Microsoft Bingo, you can call a Bingo when you have the traditional straight line row, column, or diagonal, as well as the four corners.
But let’s step back a bit to the game. When you first open Microsoft Bingo you will be presented with a daily prize. This is very common in free-to-play games and it inspires you to return to the game on multiple consecutive days. While the first day’s prize is relatively unimportant, the later prizes (up to day 7 in a row) do become progressively better. From here you can select multiple options, but let’s begin with ‘Play’. It is here that you can select how many cards you want to play. Although your options will be somewhat locked at the beginning, you will eventually have the option to play upwards of 12 cards in one game (or as little as 1).
Once you select your card, you will enter the game. Your card(s) will appear in the middle of the screen. On the left will be your choice of either a chat box (to chat with the other players) or the ability to see what numbers have been called previously. Along the left-middle of the screen the numbers will start to appear. There is about a 6 second delay between numbers, providing ample time to dot your card without feeling rushed – though this of course depends on the person and the technology you’re using (I was comfortable up to about 4 cards). You will also see an indicator of ‘Bingos remaining’. In theory, this game is being played by many people across the (world?) online community. There are a limited amount of ‘Bingos’ available per game (30). Therefore, when the ‘Bingos’ run out, the game is ended. This stops the game from being a continuous system until all numbers are exhausted.
Once a game is completed you have the option of purchasing another 5 numbers if you so wish with coins earned in-game. These will allow you to accumulate extra bingos.
Following your acceptance or decline of this offer, you are prompted with your rewards. You are automatically credited experience which helps you level up. Leveling up will unlock more areas for future gameplay, which are just differently named cities. The higher the city, the better rewards that are provided at the end of the game (usually), but also the higher the cost per play. You will also be rewarded with ‘locked chests’ that you can choose to open. The amount of chests you get is directly dependent on the amount of bingos that you called in the previous game.
To unlock chests, you require ‘keys’. These keys can be earned through gameplay (more on this in a second) or purchased using your coins at various rates. Inside the chests are the possibility of either tickets, coins, or powerups. Let’s address these more in detail below:
Tickets: Tickets are the currency that are used in order to play any given number of ‘cards’ in a given game. These tickets automatically refresh over time. The amount of tickets that you can hold also increases over time. You can also replenish your tickets by paying ($$) or for free by watching an advertisement (one per day).
Coins: Coins are the ‘currency’ of the game. Coins are the system to purchase more powerups or keys. They are provided after almost every completed round. Again, they can be purchased ($$) or obtained for free by watching an advertisement (one per day).
Powerups: Powerups are what makes the game slightly more interesting than the straight-forward Bingo mechanic. As you play any given game, a meter will fill up on the right side slowly. It fills up faster if you mark numbers. When the meter is full, a randomly generated power-up will appear and you can choose to use it. The simplest are ones that add ‘rewards’ to your card. For example, a button may appear that adds pictures of ‘keys’ to your card on various numbers. When you mark one of these spots (given that it was a called number), you will obtain an extra key as a reward at the end of the round. Besides keys, there are also ‘rewards’ for the powerups and chests, as well as for adding ‘automatic bingo’ markers onto your card that will activate immediately when you mark that number.
An additional power-up I call the ‘don’t have to pay attention power-up’. It will highlight any numbers that you may have previously missed marking on all your cards. In addition, it will highlight all numbers called for the next 5 numbers or so before the powerup runs out. Next, the ‘lightning’ powerup causes the ‘powerup bar’ itself to recharge faster, allowing you to use many more powerups in one game. Finally, the question mark powerup provides you with the next 5 upcoming numbers before they are called. This is especially useful at the end of the game to try to get some extra bingos.
Overall this may seem complicated, but it becomes rather obvious to the mildly experienced gameplayer in due time, as well as when to use them and when to ignore them. But that’s not all – there’s still much more to discuss in regards to gameplay.
After your initial introduction to the game, you will also be presented with ‘power cards’. Power cards are standalone cards that you work on cumulatively across your individual games played. Prior to the start of any game, you have the choice to mark up to three numbers on your power card (for the cost of coins, of course). Complete a bingo on your power card and you will be rewarded an extra chest that has better rewards. But there’s a catch – your power card will reset 3 hours after your first ‘mark’ on it. Therefore, you’ll have to keep playing multiple games in order to maximize your value (see what they did there?).
The power cards also provide you with additional community rewards. If the community is able to amass X amount of bingos, everyone that contributed is ‘paid out’ with bonus keys. Keys are the most important commodity in the game, so these are quite desirable. The more you contribute to the power card, the more keys you will receive (up to 100 keys). But that’s not all! Each city has a different ‘power pattern’, which is a collection of say, 8 numbers, in some pattern (e.g., looks like a building). Mark all of those numbers on the power card and you will receive a power pattern bonus, which is an even better chest!
But there’s still more! In each city you also have the ability to accumulate ‘collection items’. These are located in chests. If you collect all ten ‘collection items’ (e.g., a suitcase, a windmill, generic collection item), your tickets will regenerate faster in that location.
Phew…when it’s actually all typed out like that, it seems like the game has the potential to be truly overwhelming. It’s really not. Everything is introduced to you in a logical order and, really, for the most part, you’re just marking things on a bingo card. The rest is just background noise. But now that you have a complete explanation, what do I actually think of the game? Well, at times I find myself simply logging on to get my daily prize and closing the game. It’s a tedious experience. The level grind (which I’ll get to more in the achievements) seems insurmountable. There is so much complexity for actually very little reward. Although the game does offer in-game rewards, I often feel like I’m doing a pointless exercise rather than playing a game that has a fun value. I’m simply clicking a button when the game tells me to on screen. There is perhaps no more an experience that is made for the dullard. Yet, there are other times that I’ll be laying in bed and just want to do something as I watch Netflix. This game serves that purpose. If I don’t pay attention for 5 minutes, so what? I lose out on some automatic ticket regeneration? There’s also something oddly calming about just clicking mindlessly.
Look – you either know if you like bingo or you don’t. You really have to have a liking to bingo to play this game. If you don’t, then there’s no powerup or bonus or unlockable that could make this game worthwhile to you. The added items are just there to break up the monotony the game ultimately boils down to.
The game insists that there is a multiplayer component to it. This is articulated by the use of the chatroom and the amount of ‘bingos remaining’. That said, I almost always am able to get a bingo every time I play. If everyone else is as competent as me, then only about 30 people should be playing at any one time. I don’t know…I just get the impression that the ‘bingo counter’ is just an illusion and it’s really about number of balls called anyway. But who knows…
The community is actually very much alive however. The game has an active Facebook page where people do actually post (I checked it out once for grins). The community also organizes ‘co-op events’, which you can find about by clicking the ‘news’ button on the home screen. I haven’t personally participated in one, so I can’t attest to their enjoyment, but if you are looking for a social event, they do provide the opportunity.
In addition, the game provides a ‘gifting option’. From the main menu you can select this area and ‘gift’ a set of keys and a set of powerups to your friends on your xbox live friends list. Similarly, they can send you gifts back (once per day). Do all your friends a favor who are playing this game and help them out…
I just realized that I had turned off the sound in this game through the options almost immediately. I just turned it back on to remember what it was. It is fast paced ‘exciting’ sound that you would hear in a casino almost. I turned it back off immediately. You’re going to play this game as you’re watching television or something anyway…
The graphics are fine for a bingo game that’s free. Most importantly they don’t detract from anything. The major issue here is that, if you play with more than four cards, you will have to ‘scroll down’ to the other cards. This means that if you’re playing on a laptop (like me), you’ll be a little slower than your tablet counterparts. This really negatively influenced my ability to rank up quickly.
The game does a solid job of presenting settings and a FAQ on the homepage. However, they could have done a little better job explaining the powerups I thought, though they didn’t take that long to figure out on my own regardless. One issue that is worth mentioning is the strength of your internet connection. I recently upgraded my internet and my modem which has made the game stream fine. However, prior, I would often run at about a 10 download speed. The game would sometimes have to ‘reload’ in the middle of a match, which forces you to play ‘catch up’ on the numbers. In addition, the game would sometimes lose my connection at the end of a match when prizes were being awarded. This was especially frustrating when I had actually accumulated some powerballs in the previous match only to have them lost. The good news is that the game is usually very forgiving on internet issues and refunds you your tickets and spent coins.
Oh, and one more thing. The game is smart enough to realize when you aren’t paying attention. Selecting a number that hasn’t been called will force the market to appear ‘transparent’. You will have to remove the marker and then put it back down when the number is actually called in order to gain credit. In addition, the game will not allow you to call bingo at any time – you have to actually have bingo. If you press ‘bingo’ when you don’t have it, the game will put a 10 second penalty over that card and you will be unable to mark it. While this is good news for anyone that enjoys fairness (as you are theoretically playing with other users), it is also very frustrating at times when you thought you had bingo but didn’t actually and quickly perused your card.
But let’s be honest. Anyone on this site reading this review is likely reading this for the achievements. So let’s get down to it. Many of the achievements come from natural play, such as:
Other achievements, while likely stemming from normal play, require you to utilize the power card, the powerups, and collect the collectibles, such as:
All in all, I had all but 4 achievements within a 10 day period without being over-commited to the gameplay. I would just play it off and on when I was bored at home. Two of those achievements just require you to spend a bunch of coins in one match and I just have not completed them because I’m interested in the long-game…specifically getting the highest ratio achievement at 5.15:
While the achievement description may sound not particularly difficult, the problem is the prerequisite. In order to unlock every destination, you must be level 46. Currently, as of writing this, I am level 42 (almost 43). And yes, the amount of experience you need does increase after each level, so going from level 1 to 2 is quicker. That said, when you get into the later levels like I am, you deal less with resource shortages partially due to the levels providing more rewards and partially because you become competent on when to effectively use your powerups and tickets. Now of course you can speed up this process a bit by investing your own money, but ultimately you will have to actually play games, as the money can only be used for the previously discussed gold, keys, and tickets. Money can also be used to get rid of the ads that appear in game (personally I never found these that bothersome. There is often a banner ad on the side of your game, but it is usually for another Microsoft game. I’ll randomly get hit with a 30 second video ad in-between games, but it happens less than once a day).
Overall, the time estimates put this game at somewhere between 40-60 hours of actual gameplay time, which I'd agree with given that you have no connection issues.
1. The game is free to Windows 8.1 users (and works fine now that I'm Windows 10)
2. Many of the achievements are progress related and can be unlocked within 10 days
3. Integrates additional features such as powerups to make bingo slightly less monotonous
4. Can be a relaxing game to play in front of the tv
5. Simple learning curve
1. Bingo is repetitive after a while
2. Connection issues can be a problem on slower internet speeds
3. Music becomes quickly irritating
4. Final achievement requires significant time commitment
5. Difficult to play more than 4 cards on a laptop
6. Easy to misuse resources early in your gameplay before understanding
Overall, the game is free, so it won’t cost you anything but time to play Microsoft Bingo, which nets it the majority of the 1.5 stars I prescribe this game. However, with the amount of gaming options available I’d be remiss to recommend that you spend your time going down this avenue rather than enjoying other titles. Is it awful? No – it’s just tedious. Every achievement is obtainable if you’re willing to commit the time. Surely there’s people that truly do just love playing bingo – you should definitely pick up this game. For the rest of us…consider something else.