CES 2019: Dedicated Board Game Console SquareOne Launches in Las Vegas

By Holly Brockwell on at

Our inboxes are overflowing with interesting innovations being shown off at CES 2019, but this one caught our imaginations: a board game console that combines the physical feel of traditional games with the possibilities of digital.

Created by games startup Wizama, SquareOne claims to be the first board game console (although we'd argue tablets have kind of been that for a while), and won a CES Innovation Award in the Gaming category.

The board comes with a 19-inch touchscreen, pawns, cards, dice and a 26-tile surround that works with cards and connected toys. For instance, you can put a game card down on the surround and the associated game will launch automatically.

Dice rolls are detected and automatically added to the game with Bluetooth and NFC, which is particularly cool since the dice is passive and doesn't need a battery. There'll also be accessories available including different dice (DnD, anyone?), buzzers and Amiibo-esque toys.

If you're into board games, though, you'll already know this is going to cost you. Normal board games made of cardboard and plastic often cost eye-watering amounts, and this has a giant touchscreen in it, so yes, it's expensive: $499 at launch, or about £400. Plus games, accessories, etc. Ouch.

But it is really cool. Anything you do with the connected toys will be animated on-screen, bringing the game to life in a way that just isn't possible with standard Monopoly. You don't have to add up scores or points, because the game handles it all. And you can video your games for streaming and suchlike.

Franck Botta, CEO of Wizama comments between dice rolls:

"By combining board game and video game, SquareOne offers family and friends a way to experiment tons of fun and excitement without the generation gap around technology or having to learn a full rulebook. We provide a multigenerational way to play where everyone can interact, immerse, bond, compete, set challenges or cheat!"

The board apparently even includes AI so it can adapt to the player's age and knowledge level, which is pretty cool. We've all experienced being wanting to skip all the Mario Party mini-game tutorials while the n00b in the group wants to read them all in detail.

So what games will be available for SquareOne? Well, Wizama says they've partnered with publishers and studios including Roberto Fraga, Atypique Studio, Sanuk Games, IIM, Pixel Wizards and Les Gobelins, and release day games will include:

  • Oya Stones: inspired by Snakes and Ladders, this game is played using a dice to advance and cards to attack or defend.
  • Chromacy: tactical game of conquest. Each player creates a strategy to move, attack opponents to gain the board and gain territory.
  • Krubera: tactical and chance game. Each player must simultaneously shoot on the blobs to acquire precious stones and win the match.
  • Cosmo Squabble: 2 vs 2 shooter that works with connected cards and evolves in a spatial and cartoon style universe.
  • Fistful of Screws: roleplaying game taking place in a junkyard where animals are the rulers. Players play these bizarre creatures and explore the junkyard by moving the pawn and using their action card.

The board weighs 3.2kg and includes a rechargeable battery and adapter so you can use it wired or wireless. It also includes a whopping 32 languages.

If you've got £500 to drop on a new console and accessories, SquareOne will be out this summer, including 4 differently-coloured pawns, 54 magic cards, a smart dice and a wireless dice track. Invite us round for a game, would you?