It is easy today to play on our modern gaming console systems and forget how we arrived at our latest entertainment diversion. Before gaming consoles, I remember enjoying board games such as that instantly recognisable business one of course named Monopoly, detective work thanks to Cluedo (Colonel Mustard in the Library with the candlestick?) and many others that became a family event.
Card games have also played an important role, but there are many variations of this type ranging from very tactical to just good fun. In 1971, Merle Robbins developed Uno, which was set to change Xbox Live Arcade forever as it sailed onto our digital shores!
First thing to mention is this is no Texas Hold ’em. For those of us who like to have a conversation, chew on an Opal Fruit (Starbursts, what were they thinking) or simply relax without the need for intensive decision making, then Uno is right up your street.
Uno is a very simple card game that I actually hadn’t even heard of until it appeared on Xbox Live Arcade for the Microsoft Xbox 360. Of course with any Xbox Live Arcade title, you have the ability to try before you buy with the demo download. At first I could see the appeal, but it was a very solitary experience just playing the computer. This is where Uno needs, no let me rephrase that. demands Xbox Live and a few friends to get involved. You would be doing the game a massive injustice to stick to the single player variation as 99% of the fun factor is getting your online buddies involved with some simple yet insanely addictive gameplay.
Yes I have become an Uno addict and maybe by admitting it here with you, I am ready to confront my innermost demons. Symptoms include impulsive game invitations to join your Uno room, the desire to own a webcam (Xbox Live Vision Camera), the necessity that each time you hear ‘Uno’ bellow from the speakers you shiver with anticipation and of course not forgetting the requirement to blame any computer controlled player that it is somehow blatantly cheating the system. If you have these symptoms, maybe you are already on the way in joining me as an Uno addict.
With up to 3 other people, you can revel in the sheer pleasure of a simple hand of cards. Now it is not often you can make such a statement, but Uno is one of those rare and tantalising titles that has you hooked, but remember online is the key here. For a measly 400 points, you can have the rewards of socialising with your online friends and enjoying a simple satisfying game of cards, a bargain!
So now to the actual gameplay mechanics (of what little there are).
There are your standard coloured cards (red, yellow, blue and green) that number 1-9. Then you also have special cards that can change the direction of the turn (clockwise or anti-clockwise), make the next opponent miss a turn, make the opponent take two extra cards and miss a turn and other such annoyances that will make you scream with pain as your closest online friend harasses and humiliates you when they persistently ruin your winning chances. In each of your turns, you need to place a card that either matches in colour, numeric value or by special ability. Although the actual power you have to affect the game feels minimal, you still have an immense feel of pride as you win a game and reap the rewards.
There are other game variations such as Elimination, which if you cannot make a turn you are elimated from the game. This is a very quick version of Uno, but very pleasurable if time is an issue. Last but not least is ‘Partner Uno’, which has you and another player face two others. If you or your team mate wins, you both get the pleasure of gloating as both your scores improve.
The achievements are blazingly quick to obtain, but Uno isn’t really about achievement, it is about plain and simple fun!
The graphics are extremely pleasing to the eye as you are encapsulated within an array of colours and magic. The whole presentation feels just lovely and even the cheesy music will bring a grin to your face, even if only for a little while.
There are themes available, some free and some premium, that add new music, style and new cards adding extra interest for all those involved. The clever thing here is that anyone who joins your room who doesn’t have the theme, can still play with you however there is a small problem of them downloading the theme off you every time the game restarts
Finally there is the matter of the Xbox Live Vision Camera, adding that ever increasing personal touch. Now you can see your opponents frown with displeasure and laugh in your face when they win. Ahhh the beauty of online gaming.
Uno is the must have title to own off Xbox Live Arcade. If you have already played the demo and feel it is not for you, you will be missing out on great online multiplayer gaming. Make sure your online buddies have Uno and then get the game!
This is Xbox Live Arcade at its best with simple gameplay, yet maximum entertainment. What more could you want for just 400 points?