|Available In: App Store||Price: $2.99|
I’ve never been much of a card game player. From time to time, I’ll break out the Bicycle decks for some Texas Hold’em at home with friends. On the computer, I’ll play Solitaire, maybe Hearts on occasion. I think I tried Bridge once, but that adventure ended quickly. However, one card game does come to mind that I often enjoyed. It was called “BS” in college and another version that I often played with my family was called “Rich Man, Poor Man”. Apparently, this game is referred to as “Big 2” in Asia, and the developers of “Big2Poker” claim that it is one of the more popular games overseas. Honestly, my first thought when seeing the name “Big 2 Poker”, was that this was just going to be another form of Texas Hold’em or another version of an online poker game. Thankfully, I was wrong.
Before you start playing, you can set a limited number of options. Game sounds can be toggled on/off, and play rotation can be set for clockwise or counterclockwise. There are three difficulty settings (easy, medium, hard), four sets of card themes, and a mysterious wage amount setting ($1, $5, or $10). Other main menu items include a fairly detailed rules section and a brief blurb about the origins of the game.
Once the cards are dealt, the player with the 3 of diamonds starts the game. As viewed in the screenshot below, you can view your cards at all times and have the option to sort your cards by rank or suit. You are also given the number of cards remaining for each player. Unfortunately, there was a minor glitch here (also seen in the screenshots below), as you cannot view the number of cards remaining for the computer user on the right. Play proceeds as each player tries to “one-up” the other by playing a higher card (by rank or by suit if cards have the same value). 2’s are the highest cards in this game (hence, the “Big-2” part of the name) and suits are ranked from highest to lowest (spades, hearts, clubs, diamonds). The “Poker” part of the game’s title comes from the option to use poker hands such as pairs, three and four-of-a-kinds, straights, and flushes as playable hands. You can always choose whether to play a hand or to pass. The winner of the hand (highest overall card(s) played) then gets to start the next hand. The game ends when one person uses up all of his or her cards.
Once I began playing, I was immediately brought back to my college days or those times when I played this game with my family. I like the rules of this card game a lot and feel that there is a bit of strategy to the game overall. In terms of this particular version on the iPhone, I was fairly pleased with the interface. The game play drags a little bit as you wait for the computer users to play their hands, but it is not too painful. TIP: if you touch the screen, the next move is forced, so game play does speed up. If you need to leave, the game will remember where you left off, but be careful not to press the “Menu” button, as this will reset the game (with a warning). The wages concept is a bit unclear, but I believe that it is designed to lengthen gameplay, so if you want the game to last longer, you’ll set the wage (per remaining card) to $1 rather than $10.
When I played “Rich Man, Poor Man” with my family, there was an additional part of the game that involved exchanging one’s best and worst cards with each other depending on one’s status as a “Rich” or “Poor” person. Perhaps, this can be added as a variation. Finally, a logical update possibility would be the inclusion of online multiplayer capabilities. If this game is as popular overseas as the developer claims, then there should be a vast pool of players to draw from for an online game. An extremely snappy interface and some sort of online ranking system would be essential in making this a successful venture. Note: The developer has indicated that an update that will include multiplayer is in the works, but may be accompanied by a price increase (update will be free).
Overall, I feel that this game has a lot of potential. As a stand-alone card game, it is solid enough to keep players engaged and coming back every now and then for a game. I am not convinced on the long term playing options. The wage bets didn’t offer me enough incentive to continue playing. The upside to Big2Poker lies in its implementation of online multiplayer and possible addition of variations to the basic game. I mentioned the glitch about the number of cards in the right computer player’s hand, as well as the potentially misleading option to return to the menu without saving the game. I did experience a few crashes, so stability should be addressed in updates. Overall, my opinion is that this game is slightly overpriced at $2.99 and would be worth a solid recommendation from this reviewer at either a lowered price ($0.99) or with an updated version that featured the above changes.