Review: Casino (Atari 2600)

In this review, we place our bets on another gambling game called Casino. We find out if this next attempt was any better than the previous one for the system.

This game was released in 1978 and is not the first Atari 2600 game to have Blackjack. Instead, this game does expand a little into other card games.

By default, you get to play Blackjack. This version of Blackjack is an improvement in that if you tie the house, you get your chips back thanks to a Push. It is also possible to split your hand as well. These are definitely significant improvements over the previous Blackjack game.

In addition to this, you can also play up to four players in Blackjack which is also an interesting improvement.

Since this is called Casino instead of Blackjack, you know there are games other than Blackjack in this game. Indeed, there is 5 card stud Poker. One version has the computer player have their cards face up – which is almost cheating, really. The other mode allows you to play against the computer with the cards face down. The rules are odd in this because the computer player never folds (at least in the face up version). You also bet after every card after you get two cards. So, it’s a bit like the standard rules of 7 card stud in that respect.

In addition to this, there’s a “fourth” game: Poker Solitaire. If you’ve never heard of Poker Solitaire, don’t worry, I haven’t heard of it either until I played this game. It’s a bit cryptic and takes a bit to figure out, but the idea is you place cards in a 5 by 5 grid. The idea is to make as many good hands as possible. The hands can go left and right, up and down, and diagonally from the four corners. In total, you are building 12 hands, laying out 25 cards. At the end, you are awarded points based on how many good hands you’ve successfully made (the better the hand, the better the score). Personally, it was weird learning this game and once I did figure this out, it was still a weird game that borders on little more than a time waster.

So, generally, this is an improvement over Blackjack, but the rules are still a bit wonky at times. There’s also still the glitch of randomly changing bets in Blackjack which carries over into Poker. So, you have to be aware of this as you make your bets.

The graphics are also somewhat improved. The table has some variety in that there’s now two tones of green on the table. While a bit more bearable, this could have been improved on. I also thought subtle lines in Poker Solitaire would have made it more approachable. This game also improves on the visibility of actual suits instead of just the color. The suit icons are hard to read, unfortunately. I thought this issue would have been solved with larger cards, but instead, the suits are depicted in 3 pixel by 3 pixel sections of the cards. Not the greatest, but at least they are now there. You now have diamonds, hearts, circle, and thingamajig for suits.

The audio for this game is, unfortunately, identical to that of Blackjack, so not much to hear in this game.

Overall, this game is definitely an improvement over Blackjack. There are suits, the table is more interesting to look at, and there are now suits that are visible outside of red and black. The betting glitch is, unfortunately, still present. The audio was unfortunately untouched – an area that I thought needed improvement from last time. The rules are a little wonky at times, but still an improvement. So, overall, this game is passable, but not by much.

Furthest point in game: $1680 in blackjack. Didn’t really delve too much into the other games for high scores though.

General gameplay: 14/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 5/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 52%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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