Review: Uno (Game Boy Color)

In this review, we find ourselves speaking a little Spanish in the Game Boy Color game Uno. We find out how well this card game plays.

This game was released in 1999. It is based off of the physical card game.

The game has a couple of features you can choose from. After you enter a name (with an admittedly very limited number of characters), you can choose between regular Uno, Challenge, and a link game. Since we’re playing by ourselves, the link game is out of the question.

In a regular game of Uno, the goal is to accumulate as many points as possible. The way you earn points is to win a hand. After you win a hand, all points held by other players (how many depends on what cards they have) go straight into your score total. First player to the goal wins.

Meanwhile, challenge works a bit differently. The goal is to acquire as few points as possible. If a player goes over the goal amount, then they are eliminated from the competition. Last player standing wins.

From there, you get to decide on a few additional options. One of the options is to select the number of players you wish to play with (including yourself). Up to four players can play in a game.

While a three and four player game can be challenging in and of itself, a two player game has some interesting advantages. For one, cards like reverse, skip, and draw 2/4 cards all allow you to play again after. Because of this, you can “chain” your cards. If you have a bunch of skip, reverse, and draw 2 cards of various colors, you can play them all in a single turn. If you play a skip card, you can play a second skip card in a different color. As long as there are matching cards in different colors, you can just keep going and leave your opponent in the dust. Such an advantage just doesn’t exist in 3 and four player games.

Another setting is setting the difficulty of your opponents. You can choose between 1-5 where 1 are easy opponents while 5 are the hardest opponents. By default, the difficulty is set to 3. If you don’t play this game that often in any form, I personally recommend setting the difficulty to 1. At 3, players are pretty good at making calls. If you don’t fight back with your own calls, you won’t win very many hands at all (especially in a 3 or 4 player match). At 1, you can start learning the basics and start getting used to how to make your calls.

In addition, it’s possible to set the theme for the match. The theme determines the music played, background used, and even the style of cards (some also modify the little hand cursor too).

In a related setting, you can chose to have animations on or off. The animations you get depends on what theme you choose. At first, the animations do give this game a little personality, but after a while, they do slow the game down. If you get tired of sitting through the long animations, definitely turn this setting off to make the game move more quickly.

Another setting is the deck type. You can choose between a normal deck and a special deck. The difference between the two decks is that the normal deck has every card you expect in a standard Uno deck. The special deck contains a few extra cards like the everyone draws 2 card and the boomerang card (still not entirely sure what it’s for, but you can play it at any time at least).

While there are a few other minor settings you can tweak, we’ll finish with the points setting. You have a lot of range with this setting. Modifying this setting ultimately adjusts the length of your average game. In a normal game, 300 points is a fairly reasonable goal (as the points are accumulative). In a challenge game, 100 is pretty reasonable (as the points are divided by the player). Still, it’s up to you and you can even choose 2,000 points if you want a nice marathon round.

Moving onto the games themselves, you’ll find yourself pitted against opponents with rather peculiar names. these names include Dizzy, Daisy, and Blinky. I’m not entirely sure why the use of names often associated with clowns, but there it is. The game will randomly choose the lead player and the game will commence.

The deck features cards from 0-9 in four different colors. These colors are red, blue, yellow, and green. You must play cards that match the color as the last card played. So, if the last card that is played is green, you need to play another green card.

There is an exception with normal cards. This comes in the form of the matching numbers. If the last player, for instance, plays a red 9, you can play a yellow 9. This will then change the color and force players to play yellow cards instead.

In addition to these cards, there are special cards of these colors. One card is the skip card. If a player plays the skip card, then the next player in line loses a turn. The reverse card will change the order players can play in. If the turns are going clockwise and a reverse card is played, then the turns will immediately go counter-clockwise instead. If this is a two player game, the reverse card merely acts like a skip card. Finally, there is the draw two card. If a draw two card is played, then the next player is forced to simply draw two (and the player will miss their turn in the process).

While all of these cards operate on the color rules, there are some cards that do not follow these color rules and can be played at any time. Two of these cards are the wild cards and draw four wild cards. Both of these cards allow players to pick which color the play will continue on from. The best card, however, is the wild draw 4 card. In addition to allowing the player to decide which color to play in, but it also forces the next player in line to draw a massive four cards.

If you are playing with the special deck, there are two additional kinds of cards you can play with. Both can be played at any time during play. The first card is the everyone draws 2 cards card. When played, everyone, well, draws two cards. The bonus of this card is the fact that it allows you to play again in the same turn (because everyone else is drawing two cards). The other card is the boomerang card. Not sure what it does, but you can play it at any time.

This is one of those games that sound straight forward as far as controls are concerned, but they do need some explaining. Arrow buttons allow you to select the card and “A” will allow you to play that card.

If you can’t play a card, then you must draw from the deck. To do so, you need to press “B”. This allows you to flip over the next card. If you can play it, press “A”. If you can’t play it, press “B” to add it to your hand. If you are forced to draw 2 or 4, then you need to press “B” to draw those cards (why this isn’t an automatic process is beyond me).

A critical button, however, is select. It’s not often the case you’ll find a game where the select button is super important, but in this game, select is hugely important. When it is your turn, you can either call “Uno” yourself or catch another player. To call Uno, you need to wait until you have two cards left. When you play one of those two cards, you need to hit select and select “call UNO” before the card hits the pile. If you don’t, there are potential consequences.

If you don’t call Uno, it’s possible to still win the game, but this depends on other players not paying close attention to your cards. If the next player notices you have one card left, they can “catch” you. If that player catches you, you must pick up two additional cards. In turn, you have the option to “catch” other players. Curiously, you can only catch specific players. You can only catch a player that has just played behind you. You can’t catch any other player (so, which player depends on the order. In a four player game, there is one player that is immune to your “catching”). Catching players can only happen if it is your turn.

The round ends when one player plays their last card.

After the round is over, a tally of points will take place. Who gets what and whether it’s good or not depends on if you are playing a normal game or a challenge game. If there are no winners in a normal game, then you go to the next hand. The process repeats until someone gets the goal points. At that point, you earn the all-important tick mark.

In a challenge game, if a player gets over the goal points, then they are eliminated. In that case, they earn an “X” mark and simply don’t appear for the rest of the game. If a player is the last player standing, then they’ll earn the tick mark.

In either case, the game will tell you if you win or not and then boot you to the intro screen again.

One positive thing I can say about this game is that it successfully brings the spirit of Uno into video game format. If you play the physical version, then this game operates a lot like that.

The downside is that this game is pretty drawn out. If you have animations set to “on”, then a game can take about as long as the physical game. This is pretty surprising considering how many things are automated. As a result, you need to be pretty patient to get through this game after a while – especially if you set some high points for goals.

An upside is that the different themes do add a nice amount of variety to the gameplay. I especially like how even small things change depending on the theme. An example is how the little hand looks like an alien hand in the space theme. So, that earns a thumbs up.

One thing I was disappointed in is that there was hardly any innovation to be had here. While the extra cards and the two different modes did add some spice to the gameplay, I thought more could have been done. For comparison, Boggle Plus not only had two different games put in, but also had three games invented for the purpose of expanding play in the game. This game doesn’t seem to add a whole lot other than a few rule tweaks. As a result, I’d say it could have been better.

So, while this game does work pretty well in a handheld environment, it ends up being a pretty basic game. The number of different options do allow you to tweak the rules somewhat, but you are still just playing Uno in the end. The drawn out animations and drawn out play didn’t do many favors for this game either. The controls are a little odd in some circumstances as well. It’s not a bad game, but there are better games out there by this point in time in the area of handhelds.

The graphics are decent enough. While the animations do add character to the game, they quickly get boring and repetitive. The games only redeeming quality is the fact that it’s possible to turn these things off. The backgrounds are nicely done and most of the themes are well-realized. The cards can be a little hard to read in the space theme, though (namely the difference between the 6 and 8). Still, the graphics are pretty good, even if they have their flaws.

The audio is OK, but nothing special. The different music tracks adds some variety to play, but it’s nothing to get excited over. The sound effects, considering the simplicity of the game, are pretty decent overall. So, a passable experience here.

Overall, although this game offers a simplistic and flawed experience, it can still be quite enjoyable. The game does a good job bringing the card game into the video game world. Even better, it is in portable form which works quite well. While the game allows players to tweak the rules, it’s still a pretty simple game. The gameplay itself can be drawn out at times and some of the controls are a little archaic. The graphics are pretty decent, though some themes make it hard to read the cards. The audio is decent enough, but nothing too memorable. A pretty good game once you get past some of the flaws.

Furthest point in game: Won against difficulty 1 and 3 opponents in both regular and challenge modes.

General gameplay: 17/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 70%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

1 Trackback or Pingback

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: