Arctic Stud Poker Run is one of those hybrid racing / fighting / poker games that seem to come out every other week. Man, if I had a nickel for every time I had to review one of these babies. Anyway, it was developed by Game Refuge, which also apparently created Rampage World Tour and General Chaos. I’d never heard of either of those games before (maybe I’m not as in touch with the racing / fighting / poker genre as I thought I was), but when I looked them up I found out why. Of the two games, only one of them received more than one review, and its scores couldn’t make the difficult climb up to 60%. So I wasn’t optimistic when I started Arctic Poker Stud Run, and it met my expectations dead on.
Arctic Run Stud Poker is one of those hybrid games that takes the most basic elements of the things it’s hybridizing, and thinks that if you combine multiple weak elements together then you somehow end up with a strong game. Or maybe the goal was to aim low from the start. Who knows? Regardless, each “hand” in the game involves up to six racers jumping on their snowmobiles and zipping and zooming over a wintry landscape looking for cards. If you run over a card, you pick it up -- unless you have five cards already, and then the game makes the decision for you (which is great for pairs and full houses, but not so great for straights and flushes).
Meanwhile, the other racers are doing the same thing, and if they see you with better cards, or if they just want to mess with you, they can fire on you with machine guns or missiles or dynamite... or snowballs. If a racer gets damaged enough, he falls off his snowmobile, and his cards drop to the ground, allowing the other racers to snatch them up. You also have to be careful of bears. Instead of looking around for picnic baskets, their fondest pastime is to knock down racers and steal their snowmobiles.
There’s also a finish line. The first racer to reach it doesn’t “win” the hand. He (or she or it) simply starts a timer going, and all of the other racers have to pick up five cards and reach the finish line before the timer runs out. If they don’t, then their hand doesn’t count, and they’re not allowed to fold. However, finishing the race locks your hand (you can unlock it later, but let’s not get too technical here), and so speeding to the finish line isn’t always a good idea. It’s better to wander around a little and find the best cards.
Arctic Stud Run Poker could be called harmless fun. I played in five tournaments, which lasted about five hours, and I won all five, but I was thoroughly bored by the end. There isn’t really anything to recommend here, from the graphics to the sound to the controls, but I could see the game being moderately entertaining in multiplayer mode. You’d just 1) need to be drunk, and 2) have four drunk friends drunk enough to think the game sounds like a good idea. Otherwise I’d recommend giving Arctic Poker Stud Run a wide berth.