Game Over Online ~ UNO

GameOver Game Reviews - UNO (c) Mattel Interactive, Reviewed by - Trent Vaughn

Game & Publisher UNO (c) Mattel Interactive
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium 166, 32MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 63%
Date Published Thursday, October 12th, 2000 at 08:41 PM

Divider Left By: Trent Vaughn Divider Right

Although we've come to associate Hasbro Interactive as a leading developer of board games and family games in the PC market, the world's #1-selling card game is making it's way to the PC courtesy of Mattel Interactive and HotGen Studios. Featuring zany 3D UNO characters and exclusive cards, this is a whole new UNO from what you've come to know. But does the card game translate to the PC well? Let's deal the cards and find out.

UNO is basically a juiced-up version of Crazy Eights. If that's not simple enough, here's UNO in a nutshell:

Each player is dealt 7 cards with the remaining ones placed face down to form a draw pile. The top card of the draw pile is turned over to begin a discard pile. The first player has to match the card in the discard pile either by number, color, or word. So, if the card is a green 4, the current player must throw down a green card or any color 4. The player can also throw down a Wild Card and select a color that will continue in play. If the player doesn't have anything to match, they must pick up a card from the draw pile. If he still can't play what he has drawn, play moves to the next person. When you have one card left, you yell "UNO". Once a player has no cards left, the hand is over and points are awarded.

So there you have it, a variation on Crazy Eights, except UNO features a number of special cards. They include cards that reverse play, cards that skip to the next player's turn, and cards that force the next player to pick up 2 or 4 cards, depending on the card in question. Exclusive to this PC version are three new cards: Shark, Spy and Mutant. These cards have been tossed in to bring a little flavour to the game by introducing new strategies to the players. If you prefer these cards not be included in the game, there is the option to have them excluded.

There are three modes of play in UNO: Original, Team and Challenge. In the Original mode, when a player has no cards left, the rest of the players total up their card values and the winner is awarded those points. The first player to a set amount, or after a certain amount of rounds have passed, is the winner. The Team mode pits teams of players against one another with the same objective, to be the first team to a designated value, etc. The Challenge mode plays out like an elimination tournament. Instead of the winner receiving points at the end of each round, the losers are assigned points based on the cards they have left in their hand. Once a player reaches a specific number of points, they are eliminated from the game.

Visually, UNO is a bright, upbeat, interactive experience. The playing area is colourful and there are plenty of zany UNO characters that pop up during play whenever certain cards are placed in the discard pile. There are also four themes to choose from as the background in the game, ranging from a space environment to a broadway setting. The audio features funky music and a variety of effects, creating a very lively UNO gaming experience.

Besides an Instant Play and a Single Player mode, UNO also supports multiplayer via the Internet or LAN connection, but without a matchmaking service, it might be difficult to find a group of UNO players out there. There are also varying difficulty levels and a number of other options you can tweak to make each game a little different than the last one, but UNO isn't without a downside or two.

For starters, load times in UNO are absolutely ludicrous. I'm sure we're all well aware of the attention span kids have these days, so try telling your kid or your niece/nephew that they'll have to sit tight for 5 minutes or so as UNO loads up. Yeeeah, that'll go over well. UNO takes a couple of minutes to load to the menu screen, let alone another few minutes to load an Instant Match. If you wish to change the theme of the next game, that will also take a few minutes. To top things off, just when you've finally got a game of UNO going, crashes often bring the game to a quick halt. This is a card game, this isn't the latest in 3D technology being featured here, so why all the crashes and lengthy loading times? It makes absolutely no sense to me. There's also no way of turning off the animations that occur during the game, although the good news is you can continue playing while the animations are taking place, it doesn't bring the game to a stop while a UNO character prances around.

In the end, the card game UNO has translated well to the PC. The addition of three exclusive cards is definitely an added bonus for those who know the game through and through, but if you don't like the new cards, you can simply turn them off. The horrendous loading times prevent any kind of smooth gameplay and that is definitely a shame considering this is a title aimed at younger audiences. I don't think they'll have the patience to sit and wait when the card game flows so much smoother. What it all comes down to is whether you think a computer version of UNO is worth $20 US. In my opinion, it isn't, but if Mattel Interactive ever gets the crashes/loading times fixed, you might want to see if UNO is sitting in the bargain bin.


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