In Video Poker Pro, G3 Studios attempts to reinvent Video Poker for your Pocket PC. While they have succeeded in creating a unique offering, there are a few issues that may cause you to cash in your chips and go home. Read on to find out whether Video Poker Pro comes up with five aces or leaves you begging at the buffet table.G3 Studios' Video Poker Pro is a noble effort to bring a unique version of Video Poker to your Pocket PC, but unfortunately the resulting game has several serious flaws.Background
For those of you who have never been to a casino or never played one of the multitude of home versions, Video Poker is based on traditional five-card draw poker: after betting anywhere from one to several credits (the costs of which can range from a nickel to a dollar or even more) the player is dealt five cards face up. After being given the opportunity to discard any of the cards, the player then has to try to make the best poker hand possible. Each hand usually pays a multiple of the amount of money bet. For instance, in the game "Jacks or Better" a pair of Jacks would pay out one to one while a Royal Flush can sometimes pay out hundreds or even thousands of times your bet. There are many variants of this game: introducing wild cards or even the ability to play multiple hands at once. Video Poker machines are very popular among those who prefer to stay away from the table games (such as Blackjack) as they give a good or lucky player the opportunity to play for hours while waiting for that one great hand.Figure 1: The play screen, offering you the dream of riches untold Features
G3 Studios has taken a rather non-traditional approach to the game with Video Poker Pro while attempting to create a Western motif. Instead of the cards magically appearing on the table, the game has a pair of disembodied white-gloved hands dealing out cards for play. Playing the game is simple enough – everything is done with the stylus, from selecting your bet to choosing which cards to discard. If you’re the type to let others use your Pocket PC, there are several slots available for multiple players to keep track of their preferences and bankroll.
The game provides plenty of options, including how much of a bank you start with, whether each credit counts as $.25, $1 or $5, what rules you are playing with, even what hand you’re using to tap the screen with. Audio feedback within the game is well done also, with user-adjustable sound effects, ambient casino sounds and voice feedback. In addition, there is a tutorial mode available that will let you know the best cards to hold and which to discard. Finally, the game will keep statistics of how each player has done, allowing you to track your progress towards becoming a world-class Video Poker champ.Figure 2: The options screen, where you can see the different games available and the amount you can lose..er...bet each time. And no, my real name is NOT "Gringo".Gotchas
Although G3 Studios has to be commended for trying something different with Video Poker Pro by reusing the "magical dealing hands" from its earlier effort Blackjack Pro (where it was very appropriate), this innovation leads to the game’s biggest downfall. The animation of the hands dealing the cards, while smooth, slows the game down to a frustrating pace. One of the joys of playing Video Poker is the ability to get into a rhythm, allowing the most plays in the quickest time. This game breaks up that rhythm – the amount of time spent watching the hands toss out the cards, rubbing its fingers together each time, seems interminable. Although there is a setting for adjusting the dealer’s speed, it seems to have no effect on the actual rate of cards being dealt (according to the author on the company message board, it is supposed to control the delay between the cards being dealt). For a beginning Video Poker player, this may not be such an issue, allowing the player plenty of time to figure out what to do next…but this game is called Video Poker Pro
, implying it was intended for the advanced player or at least was created as a professional simulation of a casino Video Poker game.
Another major drawback to the game is the tutorial mode which, although quite helpful at times, is woefully inaccurate at others. As an example, when playing with the "Jacks or Better" rules, the tutor would suggest that I keep a lone 10 as a high card. Playing Jacks or Better, a lone pair of tens is the same as a pair of twos – it pays nothing. Considering that there is a "Tens or Better" game available, I can only assume that the author chose to use the same tutorial for both games. Finally, while the background casino sounds are done well, the audio is a bit lacking. As far as I can tell, the vocals consist of "place your bets" at the beginning of each hand with an occasional "good luck" thrown in. Almost unforgivable is the complete lack of audio feedback when a player wins; winning displays a flashing line of text with nothing else. Even a bell would have been nice.Figure 3: The betting screen, now featuring slow-dealing creepy disembodied hands for your enjoyment.Requirements
Video Poker Pro requires a modest 2.5MB of storage space and 2MB of free RAM to run and is available for ARM, XScale, MIPS and SH3 processors as well as Windows PCs.Where To Buy
The game is reasonably priced at $12.99 for the Pocket PC version, $19.99 for Windows, or $24.99 for a combination pack of both. The game can be purchased from Handango
(ARM version - affiliate link) and there is a limited demo available for download from the same place.Conclusions
G3 Studios took a bit of a risk with Video Poker Pro, straying a bit from the typical Video Poker game available everywhere. Unfortunately, while it is a solid game, it just doesn’t feel
like Video Poker. I might recommend this title to those less experienced Video Poker players, but the questionable tutorial mode prevent me from doing even that. Perhaps if a method of speeding up or even disabling the hands were available in addition to some refinement of the tutorial mode, this game would shine as an unconventional version of Video Poker. As it stands now, I cannot recommend this title to anyone but the most casual Video Poker players.