Gambling. You can gamble on anything and everything these days, whether it’s Best Picture at the Academy Awards or which celebrity couple will break up first, whatever you can put odds on you can bet on, and now that includes the Nintendo DS. Sega Casino starts you off with a small bankroll and it’s your job to make your way into the smoke-filled rooms where the high rollers play for big stakes and big stacks of chips. So, grab your stylus and fancy money clip and get ready to make a run at some serious fake cash. Remember what goes on in your DS stays in your DS, or something like that.When you begin Sega Casino you’re limited to a few games, and the stakes are low, but this, unlike real gambling, allows you to not bankrupt yourself in the first five minutes of playing. Included are such games as Texas Hold’em, Roulette, Craps and more. Later on you can play such games as Keno, Video Poker (isn’t Video Poker in a video game a bit redundant?), Seven Card Stud and more. Each game gives you a brief set of instructions on how to play prior to blowing your wad. The games are all pretty basic with the card games being the easiest to pick up and win significant amounts of cash. As you win more money you unlock more games to play and you’re allowed to play at tables where the stakes are much higher. Presidential Suite at the Palms Hotel here you come!
Sega Casino has some of the least impressive graphics that you’ll ever see in a game. In fact they’re so unimpressive that it makes small animals yelp in pain when they see it. You don’t get to see any people. Dealers, trophy blondes on the arm of 80 year old men riding hot streaks, or even celebrity impersonators, no one is anywhere to be seen. Why is that disappointing though? It’s people who make gambling both fun and challenging, seeing the eyes of some rookie card player light up when they get their hand is bound to make you fold. Reading the dealer is all part of the allure. The challenge of gambling, and more specifically any card game, is reading body language. If there’s no one to be seen you miss out on that, not to mention you’ll get the feeling that you’re the only person in the casino, which would never be a good sign in real life. Aside from this glaring omission, it’s a casino game, you hold cards, throw dice or watch a roulette wheel spin in circles, there’s nothing fancy, nothing that pushes the hardware to its limits, it’s just plain old stuff. A lot could have been worked on to give this a real feeling of being in a casino, but instead you get a boring interface, with boring visuals, which results in some boring gameplay.
Just to be on the safe side Sega Casino decided to keep their audio right on par with the visuals. So, you get elevator music at all times. Again, since there are no people in the casino why should you hear any people? The music and sound effects are just drab, you’d almost be better off listening to a group of intellectuals discussing the impact of democracy on a post-Cold War society. Yes, it’s that plain and boring, in fact it is so much so that we will speak no further of it.
Sega Casino does have some redeeming qualities, namely some of the games are worth playing especially if you’ve got someone else to compete against. The single player games are pretty dull, but the games with multiple players are pretty fun. Unfortunately, that means that only the card games are interesting. Playing against the computer, usually results in lop-sided matches where they showcase that either the house always wins, or that the computer’s artificial intelligence is just as big a cheat. For instance, playing Blackjack you can have 20, but the dealer could pick up three more cards and win with 21. I’ve seen it happen and on more than one occasion. If that’s fun for you then you need to spend some more time outdoors.
Using the stylus you place your bets in order to “beat the house”. You can also use the directional pad if you choose or any combination thereof. Controls are easily picked up and even a grandparent could easily figure out most games. Of course this still doesn’t make up for the lack of fun or excitement missing from the game, but it is an alternative to those little handheld games that are on sale at every drug store across the world. Nothing fancy here at all just plain old gambling.
The best feature of Sega Casino is the multiplayer. If you can conjure up a few willing friends then you can play some gambling games, and it’s perfectly legal. However, that doesn’t save this game from being pretty much a waste of great technology. Oh, it is fun, but you can beat the computer most of the time with a good bluff in the card games and they in return cheat you out of most of your money in the other games. If getting cheated out of fake money constitutes a good time, then gang warfare is just a less fancy term for a soiree. In reality it may be more enjoyable to pick up a deck of cards and some dice than to play Sega Casino. Maybe there’s just no way to simulate the feeling of winning a $10,000 pot in Texas Hold’em because you just can’t feel that same rush, with digital cards and fake money. It’s too bad because this could have been better if there were some simulation elements to it instead of making it a mere case of make this amount to unlock another game. There’s no real skill involved, even less skill than you might actually use in a casino, and the computer always has the ability to make a fool out of you, but rarely use it.
If you’ve never been to Las Vegas or a casino for that matter, and this was your first exposure to them in any way, you’d probably think they were like libraries with big money payoffs. Sega Casino is okay for what it is, but in no way does it capture the atmosphere or excitement of being in an actual casino. Picking up Sega Casino is the only real gamble, so here’s a hot tip: Pass on this game because it just doesn’t live up to the real thing.
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