All This and No Poker Too?
World Championship Cards for the PSP is a decent little title that makes use of the portable capabilities of the handheld. It makes more sense to play this game on the PSP rather than on the PS2. The PSP is a more acceptable vehicle for such puzzle and novelty games. Although it’s basically the same game on both systems, the portability and online capabilities of the PSP make this the better bargain, even if the PS2 game is actually cheaper. But I ask you, what could be more portable than a deck of cards?
World Championship Cards contains more than 40 cards games, but before you get all excited you should know that a lot of them are variations of a specific game. For instance, there are 10 variations of solitaire. But the most important thing you should know is there are no poker games. For a video game to be called World Championship Cards, you would imagine that it would have a good Texas Hold ‘Em poker game. Well in this case you would be wrong. I love poker, so allow me a bit of a rant to express my disappointment. With more than 40 card games, you would just automatically assume that poker would be among the collection. This game even uses the same engine as World Championship Poker. So how difficult would it be to include a few poker variants from that game? I think the developers missed a huge marketing opportunity to include a couple of poker games here and direct interested players to the World Championship Poker game.
As one might expect, World Championship Cards is a budget title. You can pick up The PSP copy for just under twenty bucks. The presentation is garish and has little to do with the fact that this game offers a variety of classic card games. Do we really need to create a player? Do we really need to add bling to our cribs? What should have been a straightforward presentation has been marred by silly features that actually detract from the game. All of these elements, such as choosing face, body types, hair, furniture, furnishing, and jewelry are limited to a handful of options; not very deep at all. There are even some ridiculously inane characters such as a Samurai Warrior and a knight in shining armor. You’ll even play a game of Hearts to defend the Earth from an alien invasion. I’m all for the ridiculously inane, but the stuff included here is just ridiculously lame. There’s no reason this couldn’t have been presented as a classy, understated, card game.
So now you have been warned. Not only are the production values questionable, but there are no poker games in World Championship Cards. So what kind of card games could possibly be included in the “World Championship” category? How about War? How about Crazy Eights? What about Old Maid? Yes, these are some of the games included in World Championship Cards.
As a pure challenge, this game might work for some players, as it obviously worked for the developers that had little more to do than to transform already existing and copyright-free games into game codes. These card games are presented as mini-games, arranged in a specific order to be completed so that the player can move on to the next level. In this way, you are literally forced to play all of these games. This is a sneaky concept, but it does work by making you learn the different concepts and rules of each game. Bridge was a bit of a disaster for me to learn. There is a decent tutorial which points you in the right direction and even gives you some interactive examples to test your knowledge. It will explain a certain rule or concept and then present you with an interactive scenario. This is the only way to educate, as it turns an intangible concept into a concrete reality, but I had to consult the internet nerds for more comprehensive instructions. Bridge is actually worth the effort. You won’t have much of a learning curve with games such as War and Old Maid.
Broken down into bite-sized portable mini-games, the single-player mode is enjoyable enough and somewhat satisfying. However, there is little physical reward or punishment for taking on these challenges. You don’t lose points if you lose a game. The only penalty you will receive is that you have to go back and play the game again. You will acquire more cribs and bling, but considering how low res the graphics are, that’s not something to get excited about. Keep in mind that games like Solitaire and War are all about luck. There is no way to sharpen your skills for those games unless of course you’re psychic. It all boils down to the randomized order of the cards in the deck. In other words, pure dumb luck. Eventually you’ll get lucky and best these luck-based games, but it’s kind of a hollow feeling.
Available in the Extras mode, tutorials do an admirable job of teaching you each and every game. The instructions are simple and concise, but it’s really up to you to learn more about strategies and advanced forms of play from the net. And speaking of the net, you can play most of these games online, with the exception of solitaire. But be warned, there are not very many people online, even though you can play against PS2 owners as well. So even while online, you’ll probably be playing solitaire to pass the time while waiting for another human.
Accessing the score menu is a tedious affair. You have to scroll all over the screen to find your results. Overall, there is nothing good to say about the presentation. It would be trash if it were released on the original PlayStation before the beginning of the last millennium. Background textures have all the appeal of a corporate boardroom. They animate about as gracefully as stick puppets. The onscreen windows, which display the players’ names and cards, would be more at home on a Commodore 64. The music and voiceovers are limited. The tunes are looped and will drive you crazy if played for an extended period of time. The characters throw out a few “irreverent, madcap, zingers” which are little more than embarrassingly cliché, not to mention repetitive. Turn the sound off. I implore you.
There are a few good elements to World Championship Cards such as the portability, the tutorial, and the inclusion of Bridge. But face it, there’s not one game that you can’t find instructions for and play online for free. So the only other variable in your decision making process is the portability issues. And as I mentioned earlier, what could be more portable than a deck of cards?
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.0 Graphics
Dated. I would expect better from the Commodore 64. 4.5 Control
Simple and intuitive. Nothing too complicated. 1.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Awful looped music and pseudo-zany voiceovers. 3.5 Play Value
The majority of card games are enjoyable but too simplistic for extended play. 2.3 Overall Rating – Poor The majority of card games are enjoyable but too simplistic for extended play.
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.