Cardtopia is a handheld title from BAM! Entertainment, a publisher who has a track record for bringing quality titles to the GBA handheld. For Palm handhelds, Cardtopia represents a collection of tried and true card games, including two variants of blackjack, an elevator card game and a spin on the canonical solitaire. Are these timewasters worth you wasting time over it? Not particularly, especially since there are stronger titles out there.
The first thing that strikes home with Cardtopia is the general disarray of things. Sure, it sells retail in a DVD keep case but these allusions to consumer friendliness are dispensed once the titles are on your PDA. Quite frankly, when you start the game out, Cardtopia gives you a slideshow of how flashy a card game can be. There’s copious use of colors, different motifs and designs for each game, but generally, an intuitiveness that only the developers of the titles could appreciate. To get started, you’ll have to peruse the manuals included in the game. Unfortunately, that means some reading, even though for some of the variants, like Club 21, for example, you know it is (or should be) based on Blackjack.
The games themselves are enjoyable once you learn it but repeated play convinces me to ask a question, whether a remake was really required? Elevator is the clear standout from the crowd. However, with the developing and publishing muscle behind a title like this, surely something more worthy of pursuance would have presented itself. I’m out of answers for that. As it stands, Cool Solitaire, Club 21, Clear 21 and Elevator come off as re-branded card games, artificially extended; like the recipes found written on jar of mayonnaise or a packet of cheese slices to convince you to buy it; not exactly the purchasing factor for me. Moreover, a lack of unity, like a single program to launch all four games, contributes to the general disarray that I mentioned before.
On visuals alone, Cardtopia is almost a utopia for card collections. It’s slick in color. It doesn’t look like that Windows application we aren’t supposed to play. It looks really appealing on the get go, although none of them present a unified interface to suggest that it was all developed by the same company. But it takes far more than mere eye candy to please people these days. We hardly even believe company profits on a quarterly report in black and white now. So for those (the serious card buffs) who are willing to shell money for a card game based on the screenshots, they will be the ones most disappointed with this game. It stands to repeat the real drawback of Cardtopia is a lack of intuition. Perhaps on the first time through, a tips window or tutorial function should pop up. Secondly, a lack of uniformity to present the entire corpus plays into that primary flaw. If all the games were toned down a bit and presented in the same interface, the learning curve would be much shallower. Even then, Cardtopia’s innovation in card playing is rather trivial. In the final analysis, I come to the same conclusion as with the recent remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho. The original was so good and so well done that by now, critics and fans asked: Why bother? Why bother indeed.
[08/10] Program Size
[06/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer