CGR Undertow – PLAIN VIDEO POKER review for Nintendo 3DS

CGR Undertow – PLAIN VIDEO POKER review for Nintendo 3DS

This is plain Video Poker. That’s why the game is called Plain Video Poker. It is a downloadable game on the Nintendo eShop. You play poker. The object of the game is to make the highest-value poker hand. Five cards are dealt to you.

You keep some, none, or all of those cards. The cards you did not keep are replaced. Then you either lose or gain money. Oh, I’m sorry. You wanted something interesting? Well, look away, buddy, ‘cause I don’t have much for you today.

What I do have is Plain Video Poker, which attempts to bring the excitement of a real-life casino right into your hands. Except the reason casinos are exciting is because you’re gambling with real money, and not because of the games themselves. And CERTAINLY not because of the coded-in-an-afternoon flat-blue-backgrounds of the various video poker games you’ll come across.

It’s a strange phenomenon; while slot machines manage to carry bajillions of licenses and at least moderately interesting presentations, featuring everything from Tabasco to Don Ho, you’re probably not going to find a video poker machine that looks more advanced than what your NES could pump out back in ‘87. You need to create the immersion of the casino environment to really bring that across. Without those elements, you’ve just got a random number generator with a coat of paint. Awright, enough about my personal beliefs on the casino industry. Plain Video Poker is a game that exists and came across my desk, so the least I can do is tell you about it. You’ve got options for twelve different styles of game, from basic jacks-or-better to double jacks, triple double jacks, deuces wild, double deuces wild, double backwards left-handed deuces wild, double backwards left-handed deuces wild with a triple lutz and chocolate sprinkles, double backwards left-handed deuces wild with a triple lutz, chocolate sprinkles, and the reincarnated spirit of Lt. Col. Henry Blake giving you a dissertation on fly fishing, and double backwards left-handed deuces wild with a triple lutz, chocolate sprinkles, and the reincarnated spirit of Lt. Col. Henry Blake giving you a dissertation on fly fishing while chastising Maj. Burns for ruining Klinger’s brand new dress.

And the truth is, every single one of them plays exactly the same, save for differences in their payout tables. Which, y’know, is complete verisimilitude with what you’d get in a casino… but they’d also give you free drinks. Plain Video Poker is too plain for free drinks. Or any music. Or animation. At all.

The takeaway is this: there are two meanings of “gaming” in the world today: the meaning we’re familiar with, and the meaning that involves hundreds of thousands of women named Ethel climbing onto busses, driving for hours, disembarking, eating at a moderately tolerable buffet, and then plopping themselves down in front of a penny slot machine for the next 48 to 72 hours, standing to lose anywhere north of twenty-seven dollars. And while I’m down with casinos – especially when I can find a $5 cheapskate-grade blackjack table – it takes a lot to import just what makes that whole experience work into a non-gambling situation. Hence why it happens so rarely: the only good example I can think of is Vegas Stakes, and that was all the way back on the SNES. So if you want some Plain Video Poker to go with your dry white toast and your rhythm and blues revue, I guess this is your best bet that doesn’t involve crossing a mine field full of Ethels. Every one of them’s ready to tell you about their grandkids.