Review: MotionX Poker – That’s how I roll, baby - Macenstein

Review: MotionX Poker – That’s how I roll, baby

Having found myself fully caught up in the excitement of the iTunes App store launch, I have gone on a bit of a buying spree with the iPhone apps lately, and unfortunately, I have experienced quite a bit of buyer’s remorse as well. Especially with the games.

It isn’t so much that the games aren’t well made, or don’t do what they claim to, it’s just that for whatever reason, the replay value is just not there. That is why I feel compelled to tell you about a $5 app called MotionX Poker by fullpower that I feel has given me $300 worth of replay enjoyment, and promises more to come.

I do not consider myself either a poker or Yahtzee nut, however for some reason MotionX Poker speaks to me. There are two ways to play MotionX Poker, but the primary object of the game is simple. “Roll” 5 dice (by shaking your iPhone), and try to get a better hand than the computer over the course of 3 rolls. The hierarchy of winning hands is almost exactly the same as poker, except for that a straight will beat a full house in MotionX Poker because the odds are stacked slightly more against rolling a straight with dice than being dealt one with cards.

Above: As your score increases, you can unlock different table designs and dice, as well as other goodies to keep the gameplay from getting stale.

While this may not seem like anything groundbreaking, the game is truly wonderful. First, the attention to detail in the graphics, music, sound effects, as well as the use of the iPhone’s accelerometer’s physics are all top notch. I have seen many so-called “dice games” on the iTunes store where “rolling” the dice means tapping on a still image of a die, and then a number pops up telling you what you have thrown. MotionX Poker does dice games right by rendering out the rolling and colliding of dice with extreme realism. In addition to the sounds of the dice, Motion X taps into the iPhone’s ability to vibrate as well, adding even a bit more realism to the experience (although I actually turned off the vibrate feature after awhile, as it can get to be a bit much the longer you play. It would be nice if the amount of vibration could be turned down a bit).

Above: Consecutive wins and bonus moves allow you to build up your treasury quickly, rewarding skilled players.

Keeping me coming back

With such an overall simple concept, you might think MotionX Poker would grow old quickly, but there are a few great touches thrown in that keep the gameplay interesting and addicting. First, each time you roll a 5 of a Kind hand, you unlock a new pair of dice, with a total of 39 possible to discover. For the most part, each of the die are unique, and beautifully designed. The blue “New Orleans” die for example, “feels” as though it is made of rubber when rolled.

In addition to unlockable dice, there are 5 different tables you can play on, 4 of which must be “unlocked” by hitting certain monetary winning levels. The default “Rooster” table is free to play, while the “Horse” table costs 1 coin per turn. Once you have won enough money there, you can unlock other tables such as the “Monkey” (unlocked at $200) and “Tiger” (unlocked at $4000) tables, where the stakes get much higher (but so do the rewards). The 5th and final table is still a mystery to me, as it takes a somewhat insane $100,000 in winnings to reach and unlock. Psychologically I think fullpower chose to make this board so insanely expensive just to entice us to try to see what a $100,000 board might look like, and mission accomplished. (Personally, I am guessing it is a “Dragon” table though, just based on the overall Asian theme of the game).

Above: The 4 boards I have unlocked thus far, the Rooster, the Horse, the Monkey, and the Tiger.

Finally at various points throughout the game various gems are unlocked that you can collect, with a total of 14 possible.

Above: The unlockables add a great amount of replayability to the game.

Other nice touches

There is a really nice attention to detail in the game. As I mentioned, the physics in the game are quite good, with one die being able to bang into another die and unseat it, snatching away (or delivering) a great hand.

Above: Notice how the direction and angel of the shadows on the dice change as you tilt the iPhone.

Also, as you can see in the above shot, the angle of the light changes as you tilt the iPhone, casting the shadows of the dice in different directions. This has not real effect on the game, but it just adds to the realism, enjoyment, and overall quality feel to the game.

MotionX Poker also gives you a full accounting of your stats, showing you pretty much every hand you’ve rolled, money you made, which pair of dice was your “luckiest”, etc. Unlike a casino where windows and clocks are banned, you can actually see how much of your life you have wasted playing poker here.

Two ways to play

In addition to the standard Poker game, you can also opt to play the “Zen Roll” mode. In this mode, you can basically roll the dice all day without winning or losing any money. While this may seem pointless, it is actually quite useful in that in this mode your iPhone can be a substitute for virtually any dice-based game (aside from D&D). If you only need to roll 2 dice, put 3 away, and now you have a digital replacement for Monopoly’s dice. If you want to play Yahtzee, draw up a score card on a piece of paper, and roll all 5 dice. It’s also a safe way to give the game to a child without them losing all your money.


I don’t have much bad to say about MotionX Poker, especially for the price. However, I can always think of something. First, MotionX Poker, like many apps, will turn off your iPod app if you are listening to music when you launch the game, even if you have turned off both the music and sound effects for the game. If you are wearing iPhone headphones with the inline remote, you can simply press the button to resume your music, and continue to play while you rock out, but it would be nice if this was not necessary.

Second, while I don’t imagine an online play aspect to the game would be all that beneficial, it would be nice if you could play against another human, handing the iPhone back and forth.

Finally, it would be nice if you could save different games, as you can in Dizzy Bee. My 4-year-old son likes to play MotionX, and I don’t want him losing “Daddy’s” money, while I try to reach that $100,000 goal.


You know you like a game when you close your eyes to sleep at night and you see it being played out in your head. Games are extremely subjective, and one man’s Halo 2 on the Xbox 360 may be another’s E.T. the Extraterrestrial on the Atari 2600, so all I can do is tell you what I like, and let you take that for what it’s worth. But as someone who has seen (and bought) a lot of crap applications for the iPhone, I can safely say MotionX Poker is one of the few apps I am recommending without reservation. Out of the 80 or so apps I am now running on my iPhone, I’d guess the ones I actually use on a daily/weekly basis might only fill one of the five home screens I have going now, and MotionX Poker definitely makes the cut.

MotionX Poker by fullpower

Price: $4.99
Pros: An addictive, quality game, simple yet full of bonuses, high replay value
Cons: Cannot save multiple games, no multi-player option

10 Responses to “Review: MotionX Poker – That’s how I roll, baby”
  1. Paul says:

    Excellent review. Plenty of screen shots and an objective overview. This is what will help us separate the good stuff in the AppStore from the utter shit. Thanks for putting the time into this.

  2. Joey says:

    This is the kind of information I want to know before I go out and buy something from the app store. Great work. you should get some money from the devs for referrals because I’m going and getting this one.

  3. Jason says:

    They should be paying you a commission since I’m now going to buy this app :p

  4. hellaBAY says:

    great review, I agree 100%

    I bought this app a few days ago after reading Mossberg call it the best app on the iphone and to much my suprise I’ve probably logged about 4-5 hours of play time unlocking all but about 6 dice and and 3 gems and the last table. I hope there are more games with this quality coming out soon.

  5. apod says:

    Thank you for not posting the last table. That choice leaves something to work towards. Also I second Jason’s comment.

  6. Jones says:

    Excellet review — very well done. Thanks for the heads-up — I downloaded MotionX Poker and I agree 100% with all of the great comments! I haven’t put the game down since opening it — I have to unlock the Monkey table!!

  7. Kevin says:

    I love this game. My only gripe is that there should be more high-stakes gems; I miss the sense of accomplishment that came with the first few hours of play. No big deal, though.

    Also, there’s a fun easter egg in the game. Whenever you are on a screen with a scroll title at the top, you can scroll it to the left to get some fortune cookie wisdom.

  8. Tom Ross says:

    I absolutely agree with this review. Best iPhone game.

    One thing I have to say though. If you compare it to Apple’s Texas Hold’em, MotionX Poker lacks an increasing difficulty rate. It’s just as easy to win on the Rooster table (and make 0 coins) as on the final Dragon Table (were you make 5000 coins net). Overall, the game is too easy because of this.

  9. Awww… is it really a Dragon table? I was guessing!
    I am at $30,000 right now, on my way to unlocking it.
    -The Doc

  10. Darren says:

    Just unlocked Dragon table today. Nice. Btw, here is a trick to listen to music while playing the game.

    “you cannot play your own music’s library by default, however a trick to do so is to press the Home button twice while the loading screen is loading the game.”

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