There’s an UNO game on Xbox Live Arcade? What’s next Go Fish, Tonk, maybe even Old Maid perhaps? Well if they turn out to be as good as UNO, then I’m all for it. UNO for the Xbox 360 is almost as fun as the real game, with just a few setbacks. Overall though, this is the same game we all know and love. And the best part is since it’s on the Xbox Live Marketplace, you can try it before you buy it and make your own judgment.
One of the biggest disappointments for UNO is that it’s only a one player game unless you’re playing online. It’s understandable that the game can’t be multiplayer on one system, but it’s still unfortunate that if you and a friend want to play against others online, you’ll both need to own a 360. If you play the single player you will be joined by three CPU controlled opponents who actually play to win, even though it will most likely be you that wins in the end. They will bluff, skip, and play draw cards against you relentlessly. It’s very refreshing to see AI that doesn’t just play a card game straight.
Although single player is fun in its own way, it really only serves as a warm up for online multiplayer matches. This is where the game truly shines. Over Live, games can support up to four players. If a match has less than four people a CPU controlled character will take the empty spot until someone else wants to join in (which can happen mid-game without interruption). The time consuming matches play out just like the real game with all the reverses, bluffs, drawing when you don’t really need to in order to get a special card, and of course the never ending, vendettas.
The graphics aren’t much to speak of seeing as it’s just a card game. It would’ve been nice to have some different animated backgrounds though. Something along the lines of the DDR games or a screensaver would be nice. Perhaps they can be a downloadable option in the future. There is some content available for download already though. A special 35th Anniversary deck is ready for download and use when you buy the full version of the game. So when you start up UNO you’ll have the choice to use either the standard or special 35th Anniversary deck. You will also have to choose what type of game you want to play. They have everything from Standard- a regular game with a target score of 250 points, Partner- two teams of two where their scores are combined to reach 250 points, Elimination- players are eliminated when they have no playable cards and must draw, or House Rules.
When choosing house rules you can set up your game options to almost exactly how you play at home. There are a host of selections to fit your preferences. You can change:
Traditional- Round winner scores all other players’ remaining cards. Game winner reaches the target game score first.
Running- Each player scores their remaining cards. Winner has the fewest points when someone reaches the target game score.
No scoring- The game will end after a single round. (An option to set a number of wins would have been perfect here since I personally have never seen anyone play by points in real life.)
You set the score to 100, 250, 350, 500, 750, 1000, 2000, or 5000 and once someone reaches the score the game ends.
Standard- If a Draw Two or Wild Draw Four is played, you must draw that number of cards and miss your turn.
Progressive- Play a matching Draw Two or Wild Draw Four to avoid the penalty and pass the combined total to the next player.
Draw One and Play- Player draws one card and plays immediately if possible.
Draw One Only- Player draws one card and play passes to the next player.
Draw Until Play- Player draws until he or she draws and plays a valid card.
You can enable or disable this option which can let the player choose to draw even if he or she holds a playable card.
You can enable or disable this option in which a player may bluff by playing a Wild Draw Four while holding a card of the current color, but may be challenged. A successful challenge results in the bluffer drawing two cards as a penalty. An unsuccessful challenge results in the challenger having to draw six cards instead of four as a penalty.
You can enable or disable this option in which players must remember to call UNO, or they may be challenged which will make the player have to draw two cards. This option disabled makes UNO called automatically.
This option turned on means special command cards from the 35th Anniversary theme deck are enabled.
35th Anniversary Deck
If the 35th Anniversary card is played, the next player must play a three or five, or else draw and miss his/her turn. Play continues in this manner until someone plays a valid card. This card can be played whenever a player chooses.
UNO is a totally unexpected and pleasant surprise for the Xbox 360 crowd. It’s highly addictive, family friendly (although obviously that can change online), and extremely easy to get in to. This is what Xbox Live Arcade needs, more titles that aren’t just more of the same that anyone can enjoy. It’s not perfect, the music while serving its soothing purpose is quite generic, and the aforementioned graphics are basically nonexistent, but that’s not what UNO is really about. UNO is about gameplay and replay ability. In both it scores a perfect 10.