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World Championship Poker: Deluxe Series

Score: 73%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Crave
Developer: Sensory Sweep
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 6
Genre: Card Games/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

As with the Game Boy Advance version of the game, I did not expect much from World Championship Poker: Deluxe Series. While the GBA version was quite a disappointment in my eyes, the Nintendo DS version of this game makes up for it in many ways. The first thing that caught my eye was the fact that you can move around the casinos and the streets outside in first-person 3D. All of the moving around in this game takes place in the top screen, while the bottom touchscreen is reserved for a map of the casino. The graphics arenít anything to write home about, but considering that this is on the Nintendo DS, itís a huge step above the poorly done 2D of the GBA version.

The characters that you play against, as well as yourself, are also rendered in 3D. Because of this, the characters have the ability to be much more convincing (they donít look like cartoons), and it doesnít bring you out of the game as much. I would say overall the graphics of this game are fairly decent, if not marginally good.

Where there are good graphics, however, there is horrible sound. I really didnít think there would be a completely orchestrated soundtrack on this game. However, at times, I found the ambient casino music to be just a bit cheesy and almost carnival-esque. World Championship Poker: Deluxe Series does have sound control settings, however, and it only took two or three taps of the stylus to turn the music all the way down.

Another aspect that the DS version of World Championship Poker brings to the table is voice acting. While the use of voices in the game is fairly limited, the voices repeat with a high amount of frequency. The one thing that I have always believed about voice acting is that if you canít hire good voice actors, no voice is better than any voice at all. This holds true with World Championship Poker. The specific tells (a change of demeanor signaling a good or bad hand in poker) in World Championship Poker are usually accompanied by some word or phrase by the character to add ďrealism.Ē The voices, however, are poorly done and are more for comic relief rather than to clue you in to a possible good or band hand.


Gameplay:

One area where World Championship Poker: Deluxe Series departs from the Game Boy Advance version is in how you function on the screen. The touchpad works very well for playing cards, and it allows for much quicker and much more accurate card selection. Bet placing and other actions can also be initiated by buttons that pop up on the touchscreen, freeing up the top screen to display all the poker action.

One aspect that really surprised me was the inclusion of a custom character creator. You are allowed to choose between several different build qualities and features for your character, allowing you to create a unique persona for your casino adventures. While this is just a bit of extra eye-candy, it is a much better alternative to the generic ďcharacterĒ that most games of this type hand you.

With your winnings, you can buy all sorts of things for your character in the store. Most of these items are things for your character to wear, so this adds to the level of customization available. While these items donít really help you out, itís good for them to be there in case you would like to ďcustomizeĒ your character further.

If you have friends with a DS, you can use the download play feature to link up to six DS portables and play with your friends. This download play feature adds a lot to the game, since you can play with anyone who has a DS, not just the people who also have your particular game. Playing this game in Multiplayer mode makes it feel a bit more like poker should, instead of just a simulation.


Difficulty:

As with any type of card game, the hand you are dealt is random (or with electronic card games, we assume it is), so only marginal skill is involved in most cases. The real skill in poker is being able to dissect the psychology of your opponents, and to know their reactions if they receive a fair or poor hand. Sadly, it is very close to impossible to duplicate this in a computer game, which makes playing this game a bit like playing the lottery Ė just a random chance.

Because of this random chance, it may take you all day to build up enough cash to do anything, or it could take you ten minutes. This level of artificial difficulty is something that can be very taxing.

Since all DS cartridges that are made include save ROM, World Championship Poker: Deluxe Series now includes a save function, which is infinitely superior to the password system used on the Game Boy Advance version. Now, when you are on the go, you no longer have to write down or memorize a password to bring your game back up later. In fact, because of the Sleep mode function of the DS, you can just close the case any time you wish, and the game moves to Sleep mode. When you want to get back to your game, just open the case and youíre right back where you left off.


Game Mechanics:

World Championship Poker: Deluxe Series is essentially poker and a collection of other games on the Nintendo DS, glued together by a 3D casino world. There really isnít much more to describe about the mechanics of the games, really. While there are many different variations of poker and other card games available to play, they use the standard rules you would use if you sat down to play with a group of friends.

While the novelty of poker tournaments seems to be wearing off as of late, the allure of playing card games on a portable system has been around as long as portable electronics have. While World Championship Poker: Deluxe Series wonít impress everyone, if you are looking for a poker game that has everything you could possibly want to play, this game could be for you.


-Z64freak, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bret Hall

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