Fans of the party game Taboo know how tricky (and hilarious) it can be. Players are presented with a "target word" and five no-go descriptor words; then they have to get their partner or team to figure out the target without using any of the five forbidden words. Similar word-guess games can be found in a few places on the App Store, but they still depend on having all the players in one place.
Clucks, the latest iOS offering from AOL's mobile team, takes the Taboo guess-the-word concept and supercharges it with video, social sharing and anti-cheating voice recognition. The free game is designed to keep you honest while challenging your friends to figure out what the heck they're talking about.
Gameplay is pretty straightforward: Clucks presents you with your target word and the five forbidden words just as you'd find them on a Taboo card. When you're ready with your hint approach, hit the button and record a 12-second video of your clues to your buddy.
Once uploaded, on the receiving end they'll have 25 seconds to decipher your meanderings and fill in the blanks on an answer, Draw Something-style. Of course, while they're watching you, their phone is recording their reactions -- the combined side-by-side video can then be shared to Facebook or Viddy for more yuks.
What's to keep you from cheating and using one of the no-go words in your clue video? The Clucks donkey, of course -- an intermittent check powered by the voice recognition savvy of Nuance. From time to time your recordings will be scanned by the donkey to check for words in the forbidden list; if you're caught, you'll be penalized points (and have to live with your shame).
When you launch Clucks you have the option of playing practice "Barnyard" rounds, where you guess from pre-recorded clues. To play against others in the launch version, however, you need to connect the app to Facebook; if you don't have a Facebook account you probably won't get much out of it.
Clucks takes a proven game concept and scales it for mobile with some high-powered technology partners in Viddy and Nuance, but will it deliver the fun? In my limited testing (a social game is hard to play when nobody else can download it yet), I found it an enjoyable distraction, although the fact that you're being recorded while guessing is easy to forget; I made some unfortunate faces. You're also uploading and downloading video on every turn, so play on WiFi if your data plan is constrained.
The Clucks app is rolling out today but may not be available in all App Stores immediately. You can see a quick demo video below.
Note: Clucks publisher AOL Mobile and TUAW have the same corporate parent, AOL.