Game Review - by James Allen
The most mobile form of entertainment available is card games. At almost anytime in almost anyplace (except airplanes, since the cards are quite sharp), you can engage in a card game against yourself or other friends/enemies. The most popular and widespread games around the world have been compacted down and digitized in the 2002 version Hoyle Card Games. Featuring an impressive total of eighteen different games, you can now substitute friends for computer opponents! Will Hoyle Card Games get the trump card, or lose their money on a big bet?
Well now, there is a whole bunch of different card games here. There are eighteen different games to choose from: Bridge, Canasta, Crazy Eights, Cribbage, Euchre, Gin Rummy, Go Fish, Hearts, Memory Match, Old Maid, Pinochle, Pitch, Poker, Skat, Solitaire, Spades, Tarot, and War. On top of all those, there are FIFTY different kinds of Solitaire! Holy geez! You can play against a number of computer opponents, or over the Internet, so you can embarrass yourself against people you don't even know. You can even play Solitare on your Palm OS handheld! Bonus! The manual is also a great reference, describing all the rules of each of the games, which is also contained in help format in the game. To create a more personal game, you can use the Facemaker to create a seemingly infinite number of different characters. There is certainly enough to do in the game, and it will occupy your spare time (and even your non-spare time) for an era.
You can play without the game CD, but you'll need the disc in the drive to fully appreciate the sound in Hoyle Card Games. The music in the game is unobtrusive, and falls very neatly into the background. Each of the different AI characters have several different sayings, most of which are very entertaining, at least for the first couple of times you hear them. There is also the shuffling of cards (not a huge surprise). There are enough sounds in the game to deliver the impression that your are playing cards on a computer screen, and that's all we ask for.
I've learned quite a lot of new card games during my time with Hoyle Card Games, expanding my library of card game knowledge greatly. Each of the games are faithfully reproduced, and I have not seen any difference between these games and the rules I have been used to (although I seem to have been playing a greatly simplified version of Gin Rummy before this game). The in-game help is very useful, and you can learn to play the game fairly quickly, countering the usual learn while you go method (which results in many losses). The AI themselves know the games very well, and normally play the game accurately, although your partner's play during Spades is sometimes questionable. Usually, though, if you are playing by yourself, the AI puts up a good fight. And the game of Tarot is pretty cool: I won and learned that my favorite color is brown….what a minute, my favorite color is TEAL. You LIED TO ME!
The graphics basically consist of headless players and floating cards, an interface which has been seen countless times before. It would have been nice to render all of the characters in 3D, but this is not the case in Hoyle Card Games. The game does a good job in making the cards clear and understandable, though, and the main purpose of the graphics is to forward the gameplay. There are no flashy features (except for the twisting 8 in Crazy Eights…trippy, man), and so the graphics are standard fare, which, for the most part, resemble those found on countless freeware card games.
To make a short story even shorter, Hoyle Card Games is a very good compilation of almost every card game that you'd ever want to play. Featuring a staggering number of different games, online play, and passable artificial intelligence, any person who has picked up a deck will be pleased with this virtual form of entertainment. Just make sure you don't fix the deck.