30 Reviews in 30 Days, Day 17 – Poker Smash
I know, I know. You are all looking at this review and wonder “Does this guy play anything but puzzle games?” The answer is yes, I do, but I do like puzzlers. Especially unique ones, like Puzzle Quest or Puzzle Fighter.
And that is exactly what Poker Smash is: a unique puzzle game for the Xbox Arcade that will keep you coming back for more.
Looking for the best hand
As you probably guessed, Poker Smash brings the game of poker into the puzzle genre. You have a board five cards across with card advancing from the bottom, ranked 10 through Ace in each of the suit. You move cards around, trying to form various poker hands, anything from 3 of a kind up to the Royal Flush.
Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Not so fast. There are a few elements thrown in that make this game a little more interesting:
1. Challenges: As you play in a level, you will get periodic challenges. these challenges are poker hands you have to try and create before the time runs out, and can range from as simple as creating a three of a kind to trying to get 5 Jacks together.
2. Bombs: The better you do, the more bombs you get to employ. Bombs can be placed on one card, and they serve 2 purposes: they stop the advance of the cards while they countdown, and they destroy the card. As nice as it is to be able to take out cards, I find the ability to stop the advance of the cards rather handy on the later levels.
Stunning Visuals and addictive gameplay will keep you playing Poker Smash.
3. Speed Control: You have the ability to control the speed of the card advancement two separate ways. The first is by pressing the left trigger, which advances the cards more quickly. This can come in handy in the earlier levels or when trying to get enough cards on the board to meet a challenge. The second is by pressing the right trigger, which allows you to slow time.
These additions help this game rise above the level of standard puzzlers, but it is one of the extra game modes that really helps set it apart.
Choose your next move carefully
The mode that will keep you coming back to Poker Smash is the puzzle mode. You are given a set of cards on the screen, and you have to make all of them advance to move to the next puzzle.
Okay, I know this sounds really simple, and at first it is. It starts to ramp up in difficulty rather quickly. It was about the fourth or fifth level in that I found myself replaying several times before I found out if you move the cards fast enough, you could skip over single card gaps.
There are a couple of reasons to play this mode. The obvious one is the satisfaction you get from solving the puzzles. The other is the tricks you learn in this mode carry over to the regular gameplay. After playing the puzzle mode for a bit, I found I was performing much better on the standard version of the game.
On top of all of this, Poker Smash is a visually stunning game. You don’t ususally say that about puzzle games, but take one look at the screenshots I have posted and see if you can disagree with me. The presentation of this game is top notch.
Now I am not saying that Poker Smash is some amazing puzzle game that will leave you speechless. What I am saying is it is a game puzzle fans will enjoy playing. Though it may not be the most complex puzzler out there, once you start playing it, you will find it hward to stop. Poler Smash gets a 4 out of 5.