Uno / Skip-Bo (Game Boy Advance) - Review by andyr
For the uninitiated, Uno is a game played with a specially printed deck that was produced in 1971 by Merle Robbins and later became a Mattel product. Its genius was that it took a game (Mau Mau) that could be played with normal cards and applied it to their custom deck. Uno achieved what other re-imaginings of card games have failed to do. It effectively supplanted the use of playing cards with its own deck for this particular game. Its four colour symbols became a cultural icon in their own right. They are so ingrained in the childhood psyche of many people that they now hold their own in a variety of settings, from Xbox Live Arcade to the good old GBA. It is this acceptability that enables them to apply their iconography to other electronic games and offer a series of different packs of Uno games.
Let's get to the game itself. In the large family of card games, Uno falls into the part of the tree we know as the Crazy Eights. These are games where two or more players aim to discard their pile by matching rank or suit with the top card of the discard pile. Generally, any number of cards of the same rank may be played consecutively. The first player to get rid of all their cards is the winner.
With the Gameboy Advance now in its twilight years we are seeing more of these simple format games that are looking to tap into its meteoric install base. This compendium offers two Uno games. The original Uno and a similar game called Skip Bo. Skip Bo is a game where, like Uno players aim to get rid of their cards by placing them in the middle. It has similar rules as to which cards can be discarded, but doesn't have the special cards. This makes it a much more thoughtful proposition as real card playing tactics can be brought into play. You can see why the two games are offered on the same cartridge as one complements the other pretty well. If you fancy some fast frantic action go for Uno, if you'd prefer something more considered then you can play a few rounds of Skip Bo.
There are a host of options for each game, which enable to you to tweak Gameplay to your preferred variant. Additionally, you can choose to include computer players with varying levels of artificial intelligence. If you play with more than one human player you simply pass the GBA to the next person at the right time. The game ensures that your cards are hidden until you get the game back.
A disappointment for me was that one of my favourite aspects of Uno wasn't represented. You can play Uno with a rule whereby anyone who has the exact card that has just been laid on the deck can jump in and have a go, even if it's not their turn. This changes the game entirely as it switches it from the usual turn based to real time action. For me this is what was so enjoyable about Uno, and it is a shame that it is not included. That said, it would obviously be all but impossible to re-create whilst passing the GBA from player to player. Still, they could have limited it to the games where only one human player was involved.
Graphically the game holds its own. The card layout is clear and easy to read. Shuffling and pickup animations make it clear what is happening each round, and where cards are being distributed. The Uno icons are all well represented here, in what makes are a very colourful game.
The game includes some nice little spot effects and music that help the play along. A particularly liked the shuffling and dealing samples, which really made it feel more like a real card game. That said, the sounds obviously doesn't have a big impact on games of this nature.
Overall this is a great little GBA game, and unless you are adverse to Uno, or card games in general I would recommend this as a good buy. The only thing I would say before you rush out and grab a copy would be to check the other Uno collections available on the DS and GBA, as you may find a set of games that are a closer match to your playing card tastes.
Pro: Two well matched card games.
Con: No Uno jump in play allowed.
Final score: 7.5
|Platform:||Game Boy Advance|
|Developer:||Black Lantern Studios|