Classic Games Overload: Card & Puzzle Edition
3DS | Telegames / Cosmigo | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now (North America)
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12th March 2013; By KnucklesSonic8
knowledge, first and foremost. And you know, I must draw a correlation to how it will feel like to play Classic Games Overload: Card & Puzzle Edition.
Trying to get the most out of this relatively broad collection will require some double duty on your part, not for the sheer enormity of the content on offer, but because of a notion that perpetuates the organization. And herein lies a problem with allowing the words "classic" and "overload" to define an approach while not actually being all that approachable.
Featuring a seemingly limitless amount of game types to peruse and variety to keep you content, Classic Games Overload: Card & Puzzle Edition's wealth of options serves as its clear strength. These are all divided into the following categories: Card & Casino Classics, Solitaire, Mahjong, Tangram, and Picture Puzzle. Among those found in the first group are 11 different card games such as Bridge and Hearts, whereas the mix of casino familiars consists of Poker, Video Poker, and Blackjack, all of which feature multiple gameplay variations and borrow from the same pool of cash. Within Solitaire you will find a stunning list of just over 200 versions of the popular card game, grouped into families like Klondike, FreeCell and Forty Thieves for easier recognition. Mahjong and Tangram continue this trend of having loads upon loads of choices, with a boggling sum that numbers well on into the hundreds. Picture Puzzle is the loner in the entire package, for the reason that it wouldn't be missed at all if it were to suddenly not have a shred of presence in the game. Still, as much of a throwaway inclusion as it is, these jigsaw puzzles seem to balance out the overall scheme of things. Really from all angles does the collection portray that it features one of the largest databases one could ever need.
In terms of how gameplay is organized, the 3D Screen is used for status, time and point indicators; to showcase 3D models of all players participating in a roundtable game; display cards, tiles or puzzle pieces as an additional point of reference; or any combination of the three. The corners of the Touch Screen are where you'll find arrows to skip to the next puzzle arrangement or to undo actions, a hint button, and a menu for adjusting rules and configuring cosmetics like the design print on the back of cards. These features appear on an as-applicable basis, so obviously the first group of activities is exempt from having the hint feature.
Generally speaking, the displays put in place are not clunky, nor are they organized in a fashion that would have you searching for the right tools or desiring certain things to be at your fingertips when they really should be accessed with ease by default. The organization seen outside of the individual activities, however, isn't what I'd call intuitive.
Everything follows a list format with tab-like specifications to help you pinpoint what you're in the mood for, but even with that being the case, there are some odd quirks. The save system, for one, is a source of confusion. Games that can be resumed jump to the top of all lists, but this is not the same as the save state on the Main Menu, which provides a quick jumping point into the last game you played, not necessarily an in-progress round. While it is very possible to return to a saved game without it being a huge hassle to do so, not all mid-game saves are stored the way just described. In some cases, you'll have to seek out those that you started but failed to complete, and what is more, even when you've seen a game or tournament to completion, these aren't always removed from the top of the lists or the memory of the basic listings. You'll still be asked, for example, to continue where you left off in a particular Mahjong layout, even though you cleared it. So again, few aspects of this style of organization will afford good management over the games you have in the works.
Getting, now, into the flow of these activities, the multiplayer card games will set you up with one of three CPU personality types, and you do have the ability to customize your game to the difficulty and rulings you prefer. In poker tournaments, you're allowed to make pre-selections of the actions you'd like to perform on your turn, done to save time as the system goes through everyone else's. However, as you take a look at the process that takes place in all of the games that include computer-controlled rivals, it becomes very apparent that the overall pace is significantly affected as a direct result of how the alternating system has been approached.
Five-player Blackjack, for example, takes about 60 seconds just to get started, between the camera shifts and slow movement of the characters as they make their selections or place their cards on the table. In Go Fish, speech bubbles are used to indicate card guesses, but how each turn plays out -- with cards being drawn, then choosing a card value to take a stab at, and then choosing which opponent to ask -- ends up being very slow. And as someone who's used to playing at a quick pace, the sluggish behaviours are also clear blemishes in a game of Hearts. All this added wait time both during and while waiting for turns and rounds is a real downer in relation to the play styles that are traditionally adopted outside this collection. You're not completely without help, though, as furious taps of your stylus will speed things up considerably, but the fact that you even have to do this to get to a state of normalcy is a bothersome expectation, to say the least.
As painful as the above sounds (and is), learning how to play activities you may have no acquaintance with is far worse of an exercise. While the Solitaire games often have a little manual of sorts to provide details as to the overall objective and methodology of achieving that goal, these aren't delivered in a point-blank format and are often hard to understand without a physical tutorial to complement the instructional aspect (some diagrams would be nice!).
With other activities, there are absolutely no in-game indications as to how to play a particular offering, and you're completely left in the dark on how to play, which has me infer that the collection is targeted to card game enthusiasts more than a casual player. And before you ask, no, it isn't a positive learning experience blindly working your way into these affairs, either. This facet of Classic Games Overload: Card & Puzzle Edition is easily its biggest blunder, but the fact that it does such a poor job of accessibility is made that much harder to cope with given that this entire collection was developed under the direction of the same studio responsible for the likes of 505 Tangram and 24/7 Solitaire (among others) on DSiWare.
While having more restrained aesthetics is often accepted in games like this, how this game is presented is, on the whole, very unflattering. For every decent backdrop, unshakably bland and life-deprived visuals seem to permeate across the board, while the ones that do animate in some fashion are done to shoddy execution. One environment choice in particular seems to have attempted some odd object placement that just looks bad no matter how you try to spin it. Further, the character models are far from high-quality, cards displayed on the 3D Screen have a grainy appearance in certain places, and the incorporation of 3D takes none of these deficiencies away.
The list of complaints doesn't end there, for the music, while not terrible and actually being tranquil at times, consists of compositions rendered in a sub-par output. One good audio feature is made use of in Video Poker, with traditional slot machine sounds being emitted when matches are created. You'll notice issues stemming from elements you see on-screen are mostly found on the 3D Screen, while elements found within the Touch Screen window are cleaner by comparison. But either way, while anything in the way of distinguished features was pretty much out of the question from the start, I do think most will rightfully expect more from the game in this department.
With the exception of money gained from competing in poker tournaments, the collection also minimizes accomplishment to a certain extent by not making much fuss over your winnings. This includes items for customization, as you're given but a sample of clothing options to dress your Mii with. As enjoyable as it may be in some cases to demolish the CPU, the only bragging rights you'll have are those that you create and can commit to memory. The completion rate is often shoved away in the list of possible tasks, but that's more of a fair decision given the package's wide-scale contents. For times when you'd like to open up the floor for interactions with friends and family, a Local Wireless component enables you to create a lounge based on one of the gameplay varieties found under the Classic, Poker, and Blackjack labels. You also have the option of sending off a downloadable package when the person or persons you're going against don't own a copy of the game, making multiplayer easier to initiate.
There's no contesting that Classic Games Overload: Card & Puzzle Edition is stretched to the brim with content, and it's that magnitude of force that accounts for a great deal of this collection's appeal. But at the same time, this is a common case of quantity over quality. There are some puzzling decisions here in the way of accessibility and flow, and these do cause irritation that the presentation only amplifies. In fact, with all this in mind, you may actually be better off seeking out the separate DSiWare iterations by the same development team. Because while on the numerical side of things the collection has much to offer over the long haul, there are aspects working against it that will prevent players from clinging to it as a go-to option of choice. Evaluate that how you will, but for all the hubbub surrounding its meaty premise, Classic Games Overload: Card & Puzzle Edition is still only fair at best.
19/30 - Okay/Average
Gameplay 6/10 - Decent layout of features and actions, setup not always intuitive, questionable accessibility, pace often impacted, a few other quirks
Presentation 5/10 - Largely unimpressive, aesthetics are not always up to par, audio work not great, shoddy execution of background animations
Enjoyment 3/5 - Doesn't cater well to casual users, some games are sluggish against computers, assumes knowledge of players and fails when educating
Extra Content 5/5 - Stuffed with game variations, minor Mii customization, rule configurations to customize sessions, multiplayer easy to initiate
Equivalent to a score of 63% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System