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Family Card Games - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Family Card Games

WiiWare | Arc System Works / Aksys Games | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer/online versus)
Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection Pay & Play DLC available | 
Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer)
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13th May 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

It really was only a matter of time before the Family series had a WiiWare title focused towards card games. As per usual, the game is only 500 Points but Family Card Games contains a few features that make it stand out from other games in the series. At the same time, though, the collection only has a small number of card games to speak of. Does the game manage to pack in enough content to hold your interest? Had it included more games, the answer would've been clear, but given what content is offered to the average player, you may find yourself debating whether or not it's worth a purchase.

    Family Card games features exactly three card games: 'Speed', 'Memory' and 'Daifugo'. (Don't be ashamed if you're wondering what the last one is). 'Speed' is a fast-paced two person card game where players try to be the last one to get rid of all their cards. Two decks are placed in the middle of the screen and players must place cards from their deck into one of the two middle piles, which can only be done if their card is one higher or lower than the card displayed. It happens to be one of my personal favourite card games so to see it in this collection was pleasing. Playing this game on Wii still retains the fast-paced nature of the real-life card game so in that respect, including this game was a good decision. 

    Next to 'Go Fish', 'Memory' is probably the most well-known card games out there. Players have rows of overturned cards in front of them and they must flip over two cards on each turn, trying to make a pair. The aim of the game is to be the one with the most sets at the end of the game. In addition to the normal gameplay just described, Family Card Games also features a 'Flash Memory' mode that varies slightly on this concept, where cards are shown face up for a short time at the conclusion of each turn. Memory never was the most exciting card game out there, and it's just as dull is it is real life. Mind you, its inclusion does make some sense in trying to appeal to younger audiences by providing a light-hearted game, but for everyone else, you could find much better ways to pass time. 

Daifugo' is the Japanese name for what's otherwise known as 'President' in other cultures, and it's most complicated of the choices in the game. Players take turns in clockwise formation, placing cards that are higher than the ones currently in the pile. The lowest card is considered to be the number 3, whereas the number 2 is the highest possible card. When no one can go any higher than what's in the pile, the round is over and the last player to play a card gets to start the next one. At this point, the player can play any card they which and they can even opt to play doubles, triples or even sequences (a 'straight') of cards. When four of the same card are played, a 'Revolution' begins and the card values are all inversed (3 becomes the highest; 2 becomes the lowest). Play continues until 3 players get rid of all of their cards, and before the next match begins, ranks are assigned based on when you got rid of your cards. The person in first place earns 2 points, the person who came in second earns 1, and the other two players earn no points at all. Once someone gets 6 points, the game is over. There's obviously more to the game than this, so it's advised that you look at the in-game manual for more information

    With only three card games to choose from (one of which isn't terribly compelling), what else does this game has to offer the average player? For a series first, Family Card Games allows you to play online matches! You can only play Diafugo online which is a tad disappointing since Speed would've been another great game to play with others around the world (especially since you weren't able to do that in Clubhouse Games on the DS). But for what it is, the execution isn't bad at all and really, it's about time that the Family series got some online integration. When online, you can even communicate with other players by using expressions that will be portrayed with your on-screen character, or by sending predetermined messages of text that will scroll across the screen. Lag isn't a huge problem for a card game but sometimes when the action is going by quickly, the message/expression menu can take a while to load. Overall, though, the mode does work well considering it's the first online mode in the series.

If you manage to get some matches going, you can unlock background frames for your on-screen icon/character as you earn points online. This is similar to what was seen in TV Show King 2, and even Texas Hold'em Tournament, and it's nice that this was offered as it gives players something to strive for beyond just bragging rights. What's odd about the online mode, though, is the scoring system. Achieving 100 points online (which would require a good number of wins) will award players with a "Laughable" rank. It's as if they expected that people would play online so much that earning 100 points would prove to be an easy task. Unfortunately, just being able to find enough people for that many games (especially nowadays) will prove to be challenging. It was a bit of a challenge back when it released, so you can just imagine what it's like nowadays.

    If you've been following this series, you're probably used to the type of presentation that the developers have been going for in recent releases. Being able to choose different backgrounds, frames and other appearance customizations is a nice touch as it makes gameplay feel less bland. Obviously, because the characters have been reduced to mere icons this time around, you don't have to worry about seeing character models that lack a bit of polish. The cheery music from previous games does return, in addition to some new tracks that haven't been included in a Family game before this. The presentation aspects may not be as good as what was seen in Family Tennis but they still get the job done. 

Just like in Family Mini Golf and Family Pirate Party, this entry in the series also features DLC in the form of additional card pack designs. Players can purchase card designs for 100 points a pop, all of which do nothing beyond being there for show. There are some that are simply variations of the standard outfits of the in-game characters, such as a royalty-infused set. Others are rather neat in that they're based off of Aksys Games properties including Guilty Gear and BlazBlue. But to be frank, the DLC options do not represent good value when these could've easily been standard unlockables. Some may be tempted to throw in 100 Points to get a card set and admittedly, some of these are a good idea from a marketing standpoint. But even still, the fact remains that the DLC this time around is just plain greedy.

    You can be assured that Card Games will not be the last game in the Family series. But to be honest, now that the series has come so far (for a total of eight games), there's reason to believe that the series is improving. Looking back briefly, Tennis had great presentation values; Card Games had a good focus towards unlockables; Mini Golf featured good content and worthwhile DLC; and Pirate Party even allowed for custom names changes. If they can focus on the strengths of each release, they'll be able to make games that have more substance in the future. At present, though, Family Card Games could've included more card games to make for an even stronger release, rather than sticking to 'Magic Number 3' (which has been the case with most Family games). However, if you particularly enjoy President and can get one or two people for some local/online matches, the game isn't a terrible purchase. 

20/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 7/10 - 
Nothing outstanding but not bad either, online works pretty well with a few hiccups, card game choices are a mixed bag 
Presentation 6/10 - 
Standard affair, most should be used to the cheery style of the Family games, visuals could've been a lot more dull
Enjoyment 3/5 - 
Memory isn't that much fun unless you're young, could've had more card games, online play is relatively enjoyable
Extra Content 4/5 - 
Unlockables that give you something to strive for, the first Family game to feature online play, DLC is tempting but still really greedy

Equivalent to a score of 67% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Family Card Games
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Review by KnucklesSonic8

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