Card Shark Review – Five Minus One in One
Midas Interactive Entertainment’s Card Shark is a package of five card games. The deal is sweet, considering Minis are often criticized for sometimes having a sharp price point alongside game quality that does not justify the cost. Having an “n-in-one” kind of game provides an illusion of bang-for-the-buck even if the games are mediocre at best.
I don’t mean to imply that Card Shark’s five card games are mediocre. You just cannot expect more from Solitaire or seek depth from Higher or Lower. The problem here lies in one of the other card games, the most crucial one. And I declare with conviction that whoever wants this game is there for the Texas Hold ‘Em. Hold your money still; you might reconsider.
Card Shark’s control scheme is weird and is very uncomfortable. In Blackjack, bet value is controlled with the Triangle (for raising bets) and X (for lowering bets). But in Five Card Draw, the Square is assigned for raising bets. The shoulder buttons remain unutilized when they rightfully fit for this kind of function. At first, it is very uncomfortable to deal with, but you get the hang of it. Still, the control scheme is too awkward. Each of the games has a unique control system, but they are too varied. It’s weird.
The card games included in this collection are Blackjack, Five Card Draw, Higher or Lower, Solitaire and Texas Hold ‘Em. I don’t need to break down each game’s rules and mechanics. If you are not familiar with one of the mentioned games, you can easily read the instructions available if you pause the game. But even with the instructions having such an overly simplistic presentation that you won’t want to bother with reading them (plain text on white, paragraphs and paragraphs of these; they’re, like, written in Word and slapped on your PSP screen), you can always learn the game by playing some rounds.
Each of the games is good, and they are not reinvented. And they don’t need to be. However, the Texas Hold ‘Em has the most pressing issue in the package, and this is the game that everybody will want to play and will play a lot . . . but won’t play long, for it takes too long.
You have no option to skip a round if you fold. You have to remain a captive witness if the AI-controlled players battle it out for a long time. They think a lot and think too deeply; it takes forever. Even if you are participating in that round, you’ll find yourself wasting far too much time waiting for the AI to act.
On the plus side, there are unlockables. Basically you can earn money by winning the games. For example, you gain $96 by winning $9,600 in Higher or Lower. You can purchase with your winnings the themes available. Every theme gives a different appearance to the cards and the table, keeping the game looking fresh. There is a pseudo-multiplayer, and it is ridiculous: you can play poker with your friends, by passing the PSP to the other player for his/her turn.
The soundtrack of this Mini is atmospheric. I even leave the game turned on to listen to its tracks, to simulate a high-end restaurant while I’m eating my lunch, imagining my glass of water as a glass of wine. I don’t really do that, but certainly the soundtrack suggests such scenes.
The controls may be disappointing, but individually the games are okay. Well, except for one. And it’s the game that I was most looking forward to. And probably the same for you, too.
6.5/10 (could easily be 7.5 if the Texas Hold ‘Em did not possess such a glacial pace)