Global Star Software is the value publishing arm of Take Two Interactive. By virtue of this association, it is also one of the bigger publishers in the PDA arena. And indeed, they are one of the few publishers you'll be able to obtain titles from easily on store shelves whether it be at Staples, Best Buy or any other mainstream outlet. They are, however, not given the cream of the crop when it comes to PC titles. But times change and with the release of Italian Job on the PC, Global Star appears on track to earn its reputation back in that sphere. Sadly, if its subsequent PDA titles are as bad as this card game collection, it proves an old adage well: everything in the world is a give or take.
It's not hard to guess what has gone into this card compilation. The title of it makes it blatantly obvious. You have your game of Hearts. You have your game of Spades and then there is Euchre. All share similar game engines but the developers have cordoned them off as separate products, creating unnecessary installation hassles. How so? Not only do you have to install all three one at a time through ActiveSync or Palm's Hotsync but you have to run the PC setup installer thrice to extract the handheld install files. In total, that's six installation routines you have to go through to get all three titles on your PDA; not exactly what I would call convenience.
In its defense, I'm fairly certain the developers of these card games were going for the parlor feel. That feel and motif was, is and continues to be best done by the unique Sierra-Hoyle titles released long ago. These were the ones who were fleshed out with cartoon characters, unique personal profiles and set in parlor settings. From its presentation, the developers of this trio of card games are gunning for a similar but simplified look. For example, the profiled characters are all fixed. One character is always at easy difficulty. One is always at hard and so on and so forth. You also can't define your own attributes.
With that said, it's customary to accept a few limitations on handheld titles. There are space constraints to consider when developing for PDAs, especially if your title will be simultaneously released on Palm and Pocket PC operating systems. But bad design from inattentiveness continues to plague this trio of card games. The installation was poorly conceived from the get go and so are certain mechanics of the games themselves. For example, you always appear to play from the south corner of the table (bottom). Yet the developers, in all their genius and creativity, persist to put the in-game messages along the bottom. So big is the message bar popup that it exactly covers the cards held in your hand. Thus, when the game tells you to start passing on cards or you're playing the wrong cards, it's a poke and tap affair until you get rid of the message popup. Rather defeats the purpose, don't you think?
As far as card games go, there are better ones out there. In spite of the spartan features, the AI doesn't exhibit anything close to cunning, thereby reinforcing the case for people to make a pass on it. From a holistic perspective, the only people who may think this is a good value would be those lured by the dual Palm/Pocket PC support and its retail availability. Other than that, even the most ho-hum retail consumers should look further down the aisle.
All screenshots are of the Palm OS version. This review is based on the Pocket PC version.
[05/10] Program Size
[09/15] Learning Curve