I got this nintendo ds game as part of a 3 for £10 offer. I didn't really want to pay any more than around £5 for the game as I know casino games can get dull pretty quickly but my boyfriend likes card games and I thought it'd be good to have when travelling to pass a bit of time.
As with most DS games a small cartridge comes in a larger plastic box with a game booklet with instructions and game information. To play the game you just need to insert your cartridge into a nintendo DS console and tap the icon to play.
As expected I did get bored quite quickly with the game but it is one that will be coming travelling with me still. One thing that drew me to the game was the multiplayer ability which allows up to 5 players with a DS to play using download play and you only need the one game card so it's good to play against others.
You can set up a few profiles so more than one person can save their points score on the game card. Your score will be saved at the end of each game or each time you go back to the menu.
Due to the gambling nature of the game it is recommended for over 18s only.
There are 11 games in total on the card including jacks or better, craps, roulette and baccarat.
The games available to play on multiplayer are blackjack, texas hold 'em and seven card stud.
One thing that does make the game interesting is the fact that you can't play all of the games to start with. For each profile you set up each player will start with 1000 points. You will start on a bronze level of a game, silver will unlock when you reach 2500 points for example and gold at 5000. When you reach a certain number of points you will also unlock some of the games which are not available from the start.
The points work just like imaginary coins, you choose how many points you want to gamble and how many you get depends on whether you win or lose and the strength of your hand.
It is very easy to play the games using both the control pad and the touch screen. The graphics are pretty plain and simple but it is easy to see the table and cards.
The sound rally annoys me, I can't stand the annoying cheesy casino music but to be honest as I normally use my DS when I'm out and about and on the go I mainly have it turned down or on silent anyway.
I wouldn't say this was a bad game at all, it's just not one I would play often. It would be a good one to get for anyone who wants to learn how to play different card or casino games so you can practise and learn the game without losing any real cash. There are instructions for each of the games so you can learn how to play.
The multiplayer is also good. I would recommend it, if you could pick it up cheap like I did but I wouldn't want to pay much for it as the variety of games isn't vast enough to keep me interested for long.
I'm sure I don't really need to explain what "Sega Casino" is about. There are three modes - Free Mode, Casino Mode and Multiplayer Mode. Before I start on the other modes, I have to say that I haven't been able to explore Multiplayer Mode because you need to know someone else who has any desire whatsoever to play the game with you.
When you start playing the game, there are five games to choose from. These are Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, Baccarat and Texas Hold 'Em. There are others to unlock (which the game tells me are: Chuck A Luck; 7 Card Stud; Keno; and Jacks Or Better), but they are only unlocked once you reach certain amounts of chips. If you're anything like me, you'll probably never manage to win enough to unlock the other games. With the majority of the games, it's all really up to chance whether you win or not, seeing as you're betting on what you think will happen and there is pretty much no skill involved whatsoever.
I presume that there are some differences between Free Mode and Casino Mode, but I can't really tell the difference. Apart from in Casino Mode, I think you choose which table to play at (which dictates how much you can bet and that's about all). That's all.
I'm guessing if you particularly love casino games, you'll probably like this. Even then, though, I wouldn't particularly recommend it to anybody. As a game, there's not much to it - just a few menus with boxes with text inside them connecting the games. I'm not impressed, and I wasn't particularly expecting it to be brilliant in the first place.
This review is of the Nintendo DS game, Sega Casino, developed and published by Sega. There are a range of games to play, such as poker, roulette, craps and baccarat.
There are a total of eleven games in play, although six of these have to be unlocked. There is no real game story behind this progression, you are just expected to play the game and make enough money to be able to unlock these extra levels. The games include roulette, craps, baccarat, chuck a luck, keno, black jack and various forms of poker.
There are two ways of playing the game, you can either play the free play mode, where you pick the game you want and then just play on that game. Alternatively you can use the casino mode, where you can move between the different tables, just as you would in a real casino.
Working through the game can be difficult if you are playing the skill based games, as these are difficult to win money on over a longer period of playing, which can make unlocking the extra games more challenging. This does work though, as it increases the length of interest in the game, as you are determined to try and access the other games.
Controlling the game is easy, using the stylus and touch screen. This has been well programmed, and is very responsive and easy to use. There are also clear instructions on how to play each game, so beginners to these casino games can easily learn how to take part effectively.
The sound and graphics in the game are a bit limited, although they do the job sufficiently. The graphics though being basic, and with minimal sound effects and background music do mean that there is quite a lot of atmosphere missing from this game.
The poker games are possibly the weakest in this collection of games, as they rely on the computer's AI functions, and this really isn't very good. The computer bets in a predictable way, which means that winning is just a bit too easy sometimes, which although allowing you to gain money to unlock extra games, does become frustrating at times.
There is a multi player option, so that you can play the game with up to four other players using the Nintendo DS's wireless connection. This has been well designed, as you only need cartridge between all four of the players, rather than the policy a few developers have of making everyone buy their own cartridge. You can play black jack, texas hold-em and poker with others, and this does definitely lengthen the interest in the game.
The game retails for 19.99 pounds but is currently available on Amazon for 9.99 pounds. If you're happy with a second hand copy, at time of writing these are available for around four pounds on sites such as eBay and Amazon. The game is rated as 18+, so is unsuitable for children.
In summary, this game is fun for a while, but it isn't of course the same as playing for real in the casinos. The risk of losing money is of course zero in this game, which takes a lot of the fun element out of the game, but the mini games in this product are reasonably entertaining for a while. There's probably not enough in this game to keep you occupied for a long time, but if you can pick it up cheaply, it's not bad, just a bit uninspiring.
About the Game
Released in 2005 by Sega, Sega Casino is a collection of Casino mini games on a single NDS Cartridge.
Included in the collection are 2 versions of poker (7 card stud and Texas hold 'em), blackjack, roulette, keno, chuck a luck, craps, baccarat and video poker.
On starting the cartridge you are given the option to change the language, enter the casino or view the developer's credits. On selecting enter you are given create a new player profile or continue with an existing one if you have played previously. The cartridge can save three independent profiles which is useful.
Once you have created your profile you are presented with the main menu where you can choose between three modes - Free mode, casino mode and multiplayer mode.
In free mode you can instantly play 5 of the games although four (7 card stud, chuck a luck, keno and video poker) are initially locked and you are required to win a certain number of chips to unlock each game.
You start the game with $1000. You can then choose which room to enter. Reviewing all 9 rooms would result in a review the size of war and peace! So I will review my favourite three in depth and touch on the others in less detail -
The idea of the game is to score a close to 21 without going over (busting). You play this game against the CPU controlled dealer who also has a hand. The player who is closest to 21 wins. The lower NDS screen displays yours cards, your chips (discs that represent your money) and option to leave the room. The upper screen shows the deck of cards, the dealer's hidden hand and a total of your current cash. Before beginning play you must place your bet using the stylus and your chip pile. The CPU initially deals 2 cards each. You can see both of your cards; however the CPU only reveals one of its cards. After you have added up your two cards you must decided whether to stand (stick with the cards you have got) or Hit (have another card dealt to your pile). You can stand with any card count under 21, whereas the CPU cannot stand below 17 and must compulsory stand at 17. A blackjack which is a score of 21 instantly wins. If the CPU and your cards add to the same then the bet is void (a push). The game plays well, though like in real life, it is all a matter of chance. It wasn't long before my chips all dwindled away!
The game of roulette is straightforward. A roulette wheel with 37 number pockets is spun and a ball thrown into it and wherever the ball lands is the winning number. The numbers are alternatively coloured in red and black. In this game the top screen shows the roulette wheel plus your current chip score. The lower screen shows your chips, the betting mat and the option to leave the room. The betting mat is a standard European betting mat and offers you the options of betting on individual numbers, odd or even numbers, red or black numbers, green numbers zero and double zero, groups of 12 numbers, a group of the first eighteen numbers and a group of the last eighteen numbers. Depending on the likelihood of your number coming up determines the betting odds and chips that you will have returned. The game has a limit of a $100 bets, so theoretically you won't blow your chips all at once. That said you are able to place several $100 chips on different numbers.
Betting on groups of numbers gives you a lower payout but gives you more chance of winning, whereas betting on red give you just under a 50% chance of winning (just under because of the two green zeros that are on the wheel). I found that the game played well
And placing a bit was as simple as dragging your chip with the stylus onto the play mat. The play mat is large and scrolls horizontally across the NDS bottom screen. I found that a bet on a single colour (say red) and a group of the 1st 12 numbers tended to give me the best return on my bet, though like blackjack I lost all the money in the end.
In baccarat cards are dealt to both the player and the banker (played by the computer).
Each player's cards are added as they are dealt, initially two cards are dealt and if the cards add to nine then that player is the winner. If they do not add to nine then a further card is dealt and the player who has nine or is the closest to the score of nine is the winner. To play this on the NDS the top screen shows your chip count plus the individual scores of the player and the banker. The lower screen shows your chips, the betting playfield and an option to quit the room. Before the cards are dealt you must gamble on who you think will be the winner. There are three betting options Player, banker or Tie (where both players' cards add to the same amount). The Tie bet pays the highest amount at 8-1, the player and banker pay roughly around 100%, though the banker slightly less as the 'house' takes a cut of the stake!. I found this game to be 100% chance and no skill or interaction whatsoever. I had great winning streaks, despite having made totally random bets!
So they are my favourite three games. The other games briefly are -
Craps is a dice rolling game where you bet a stake on the roll of the dice. Without going too deep into the concept of the game, there are several phases of the dice roll and a Gameplay betting mat, similar to the roulette mat, allows the player to place bets on the outcome of the dice rolls.
Two variants, both seven card stud and Texas Hold 'em is represented here. Poker, unlike most of the other games on the cartridge usually requires and element of skill, bluff (poker face) and bravado. Regrettably the artificial intelligence of the CPU players makes winning really easy as they only tend to bet when they have good cards and generally fold (throw in the towel) when they have rubbish cards. This on one hand is good as it allows you to accrue more chips to play elsewhere in the casino, but is bad as poker is one of the more playable and involved games on the cartridge.
Chuck a luck -
Chuck a luck is another game of luck where you an egg timer styled basket containing three dice is tipped and you place bets on the outcome of the three dice. The highest odds are on getting all three dice with the same value (this returns 10-1). Like roulette and blackjack I saw my chips dwindle away quickly.
Keno is a lottery style game where you select 10 numbers from a selection of the numbers 1 to 80. Then a lottery ball machine drops 20 random balls into a trough. The more numbers that are in the trough that match your selection the more you win. You must match at least 5 balls to win anything. I found this, like the national lottery, totally random and with no skill or judgement required; just button pushing.
Video Poker -
This game is played on a video machine, like the ones found in Vegas. There are three video games, of a similar theme. The best of the three in my opinion is called jacks or better where a fruit machine spins card faces and you win depending on the hand that is spun. Not dissimilar to Poker dice, but in a video format. Like most of the other games, your luck is determined more by chance than skill.
All of the above were reviewed whilst playing in free mode.
In casino mode the play is identical other than there are several different rooms in each game (bronze, silver and gold member rooms). You can play in the bronze rooms automatically but must win a certain amount of cash to unlock the silver and gold rooms. In the other rooms the limit of your bet can be higher so you can win or lose (generally lose in my case!) more in each turn. When your money reaches zero then its Game Over.
The only other mode is Multiplayer, where several players can play in some of the games via Wifi.
And that's it!
The graphics are functional rather than lavish. The play areas and card faces are clear and easily recognised though the betting chips are a little on the small side.
The main colour of the game is green, representing the play cloths of the casino tables.
Despite their unexciting feel, the movement and animation is fine and everything plays smoothly without stutter or glitch.
Sound and controls
The background music is predominantly casino cocktail jazz music, with piano rolls and swinging computer generated drums. Sometimes the musical loops are quite short and can become a little frustrating. The other sounds, such as cards being dealt and balls spinning around the roulette wheel are feasible; if not a little drowned by the jazz music!
The controls are straight forward. The stylus is use predominantly for placing bets whereas the pads buttons are used to deal cards, spin wheels and make poker bets. The controls are responsive and work well.
I personally usually like multi game cartridges as they offer varied Gameplay and have a longer lifespan than single games. Unfortunately, some of the mini games on this cartridge don't play as well as the single game cartridges.
In particular poker is not challenging or difficult to win and you can find a much better poker game on other dedicated NDS cartridges. My other bugbear is that I find playing virtual casino fruitless as all you stand to win is virtual money and unlock other virtual casino games. Not using real money means that you tend to make stupid bets that you wouldn't entertain if the cash was coming out of a real back pocket and not a virtual one!
It's not all bad though, as games such as roulette, craps and blackjack are perfect representations of the real games.
So, to conclude, it's worth playing to while away a lengthy journey or rainy day, but there are better casino games available.
Additional details, Price & Availability
The game was available for £8.50 from the Amazon market place on the date of writing (9th August 2008)
Copyright M Jones (Otalgia) 2008