Mobile Bingo: When DVDs and Nintendo get boring

Spoiler alert! I found half a dozen mobile bingo apps in the App Store and I couldn’t look at them all, so I looked at the one that seemed to provide the best compromise of features and price, which is free. The app delivers on it’s promise, but if you want more you can pay for it.

The theory behind digital car bingo is that you can keep your kids entertained during those tedious vacation trips by dragging a musty old classic into the computer age. Why you would want to, I don’t know. It seems like it would be more work convincing your kids to play car bingo than it would shutting them up by plugging in a DVD or handing out the Nintendo DS games.

Car bingo worked when I was little. Mom and Dad would have Beth and I separated by a cooler in the back seat of the car. As soon as one of us started to climb over the cooler with a fistful of hair already firmly grasped., Mom would say, “let’s play car bingo.”

Okay, truthfully, we played “cows” because bingo was Catholic and gambling and Baptist Preacher’s Kids (BPKs) were’t allowed to associate with either. “Cows” involved who could count 25 cows first, but black cows wiped your count back to zero. You could only count the cows on your side of the car.

However, I realized that might be a better topic for my blog Righteous Indigestion.1

The other advantage of cows over car bingo was that you didn’t need bingo cards or pencils. You could jump right to the game. Of course, once we hit nine or ten, we were on to their trick. And even when we were younger, the game ended as soon as one of us decided the other was cheating or had the better side of the car and leaped across the cooler with a fistful of hair already firmly grasped.

The only thing cool about car bingo these days is that you can play it on your iPhone or iPad. So maybe it still could be useful for those moments when the kids argue over which DVD they should watch, or both want to play the same Nintendo DS cartridge and end up rolling around in the back seat with fists full of hair.

Or you can buy a DVD player for each kid. But then you’ll have to buy three copies of each DVD.

Mobile Bingo has several advantages over competing games, and that’s the only reason I chose it for review. The most important advantage is that it’s free. If your kids hate it, you’re not out anything. The game includes two themes, common road objects and common colors.

If, however, you like it, you can download additional game themes for a dollar each, including gas stations, airline travel and objects in the neighborhood and even license plates. You could end up spending $7 for the entire game, but at least you’ll know if you like it. The first download also removes the advertising.

You can download seven different game themes for a dollar each once you decide you like the game.

Mobile Bingo isn’t as colorful as competitors, but the art is pretty and touching an item slides a transparency window over the object to mimic the more expensive bingo game boards.

You can also play in single and two player mode, allowing two players to share an iPad (this feature is iPad only). But if you need to involve more players you can also download the game to iPhones and the entire family can get involved (except, hopefully, for the driver).

The iPad version allows to players to play side-by-side when the game’s in landscape mode.

If you want to improve the challenge, you can increase the game difficulty which includes tiles that are far less common. You can also customize the game colors and text, which should be a gimme in any game.

I’ve seen more colorful versions of car bingo, but they’re more expensive and I’m not sure they deliver any more fun for the price. Just color. The game also displays advertising, but not in any way that interferes with game play. The first upgrade board removes the advertising completely.

The only real downside of the game is that it’s car bingo. What are they going to give us next? iPad Twenty Questions where one player selects the animal, mineral or vegetable by spinning the iPad roller?

But, what the hell? If your kids have iPhones anyway, they can just watch the movies they downloaded, and they will stay engaged with the movies longer than car bingo.

Jenny Manytoes rates Mobile Bingo.

Jenny Manytoes would take a nap next to Mobile Bingo. It’s solid and competitive with other car bingo games, but, let’s be honest. Even if it was perfect it would still just be car bingo.

1See how I plugged my column?back

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat

  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.


About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 3 Stars - nap, Entertainment, Games, Vacation and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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