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1st Class Poker & BlackJack - DSiWare Review

Game Info
1st Class Poker & BlackJack

DSiWare | Cosmigo | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now (North America) | 500 Nintendo Points
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21st March 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

A bunch of card game collections have released on DSiWare over the years, but only a relatively small number of them have actually satisfied or even gone to the point of impressing. Cosmigo's latest entry into the genre uses the same basic template seen in their earlier titles, Hearts Spades Euchre and Bridge -- both of which I never tried. By this time, if you know anything about Cosmigo, you're aware that eight times out of ten, they deliver on content. This also rings true here to a certain extent, but the delivery seen in other areas ultimately bring down the entire package.

    1st Class Poker & BlackJack is divided up into three different gameplay options: Poker, Videopoker, and Blackjack. Within each of these are a series of additional settings you can select to adjust your gameplay experience. Beginning with Poker, there are seven different mode variations that await you, including Texas Hold'em, 5 Card Draw, Pineapple and Omaha. Games are organized in a tournament-focused fashion where your aim is to be one of the last three remaining for a cash prize. Each table has its own entry fee with continually increasing prerequisites to reflect higher stakes. Once you get into it, it's pretty easy to discern that the AI is pretty good. I was unable to detect any kind of obvious stupidity on their part, and more often than not, their behaviours aren't that far off from how a real player would play. For this reason, I often found these Poker sessions to be fairly enjoyable, especially when you can make the most out of what's given to you and still come out on top.

    Specifically with 5 Card Draw, though, I kept coming across the similar sets of circumstances until it reached a point where I could no longer view it as mere coincidence. I lost count of the number of times where I traded cards and ended up with one of the same value while the others were one value higher than the card I gave away. So in trading a 2, an 8, and a 10, for example, I would get back a 2, a 9, and an Ace. For this to happen enough times for it to be noticeable, I'm willing to bet this was on oversight.

Compared to Poker, Videopoker is significantly less fun to play. This mode gets players to make bets based on set intervals for a bigger pay-out if the cards match one of the hands described. In part, the reduction in fun factor is because there's less strategy involved here than there is in the standard mode. But besides that, I can't see why anyone would choose to play this when the main Poker options are superior ways to enjoy the game. Videopoker mode has very little worth to it, and to be frank, I didn't have much patience for it.

    Blackjack is a little better, offering you the ability to play against the Bank either by yourself or with multiple CPU's. I found this to be the go-to diversion whenever I needed more funds to enter a higher tournament league, or when I was approaching Bankruptcy. It's not the end of the world if you run out of funds as the Bank will simply return you to your default alottment of $1,000. I'd hesitate to refer to it as fun exactly, but if you're big on Blackjack, then you'll obviously like this secondary mode.

    In terms of layout during gameplay, the top screen will visually depict a scene of the simulated game, while the Touch Screen is used for making decisions impacting the flow of the game. Selecting the M in the top-right corner will open up a multi-page guide that you can flip through to familiarize yourself of the rules of the game you're playing. On the reverse side is a button for camera control, but unless you want to make yourself dizzy by making the room spin, it's a totally pointless feature. Finally, choosing the Cosmigo icon in the bottom-left corner will allow you to customize options or change the appearance of the cards. The whole method of organization isn't the most efficient, but it works for the most part.

    As shown by their latest title, the music in Cosmigo titles has been getting progressively better. The background music they've chosen this time doesn't do much in the way of conveying a casino feel, but that doesn't make it a poor fit for all that takes place. Unfortunately, the developers took a step backward in this area, once again sticking to only having one main track throughout the entire experience. It almost suggests to me that they finished developed this before Box Pusher, since it was in that game where they conscientiously made improvements in this regard. Even though it could've easily been improved, at least the music doesn't become a source of annoyance. The same can't be said of the visuals, on the other hand. Character models look really dowdy and slapped together, while the appearance of the background space often looks jagged. Add to this the fact that all players will do the same look-down-at-my-cards animation every few seconds, and the graphics become a tad hard to look at all the time. Evidently, they didn't think the presentation was that bad, but considering that they've had good presentation focuses in previous games, I was a bit surprised by the developer's lack of tailoring in this area.

Each mode has its own set of achievements that players can strive for, such as not busting with five cards in Blackjack, or beating a certain type of hand. Additional features include avatar selection, custom rules, multiple save slots for in-progress games, and the ability to swap out your character icon for a photograph using the DSi Camera (or 3DS, as the case may be). A multiplayer mode is also included that features both Wireless and Download Play options. To make the package a quick and easy download for multiplayer sessions, the developers decided to remove avatars entirely, but on the plus side, you're able to send text as well as voice messages to players in the room. In general, the ability to play both Poker and Blackjack with someone who doesn't have the game is appreciated, though I can't help but question why most would want to go this route instead of the obvious alternative.

    Though it is described as such, I wouldn't refer to this as a first class effort. With the experience only being partly enjoyable and the presentation failing to please, I'd hesitate to recommend 1st Class Poker & BlackJack. Even if you're big on card games or Poker specifically, I'm pretty sure you could find better use of your money and time.

17/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 6/10 - Serviceable digital translation of Poker and Blackjack, rules to customize your experience, oversight detected in 5 Card Draw
Presentation 4/10 - Music isn't bad but there's only one track, top screen visuals need much work, character models look pretty bad, pointless camera
Enjoyment 3/5 - Poker tournaments are enjoyable, pretty good AI, Blackjack isn't "fun" per se, Videopoker is pretty much a waste of time
Extra Content 4/5 - Multiple Poker variations, camera incorporation, achievements, multiplayer mode with Download Play and voice messaging capabilities

Equivalent to a score of 57% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

1st Class Poker & BlackJack 
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