Review by Retro

"A casino that is definitely worth a visit.....or two....."

If you're one of the millions of people who have ever enjoyed playing card games such as solitaire, blackjack, or poker; whether in video games or in real life, you will probably like Casino for the Atari 2600.

Casino is a collection of three popular games built into one compact cartridge. It has poker, blackjack, and the ever-addictive solitaire.

Unlike the name of the game, in Casino for the Atari 2600, you won't be traveling to a casino or seeing any spectacular Las Vegas lights, or anything to that degree. You also won't see any roulette tables, craps, keno, or many of the other popular money-hungry games you would normally see in a real-life casino. Casino is just a good old lineup of classic poker, blackjack, and solitaire. But hey, for the time (1979), three hugely popular games all in one cartridge was something to behold.

Casino is fairly basic, but some basic things in life are worth taking a look at. You can always play against the computer in either poker or blackjack. The computer player's cards will be shown at the top of the screen. Your cards will be placed right underneath the computer's. One of the computer's cards is always turned face up (where you can see it), and another card is face down (a temporary mystery) to begin with. You will start off with two cards that are both face up.

Based on your best judgement on what your next move should be, you have the honor of deciding whether to hit, stay, double, or split. In both poker and blackjack, before the cards are ever dealt, you get to choose how much of your money, or points, that you want to gamble. In the majority of the games, you can bet up to two hundred points. To place a bet, you just have to spin the wheel on your paddle controller and then press the button to place your brave, humble, or cowardly bet.

Then it's time for the real game to begin. As you probably already know, if you win, you win the number of points you bet, and if you lose, you lose that number of points. Of course if you tie, you won't gain or lose anything.

Casino's gameplay mechanics are accurate in all three of the games. For instance, in blackjack, if you get over 21 with the cards, it's called a bust. The dealer cuts the cards before thinking about dealing, and if you get a 21, you get a blackjack and the permission to feel good.

The solitaire game is just as well done as the other two classics. At the start of a game, there will be a card at the top of the screen that represents the card that you have possession of. You then just have to move a flashing, square cursor around the screen until you find where you want to place that card, and then press the button. After you use up all the cards, a final score will be given to you that represents how well or not so well of a job that you did.

One thing about Casino that makes it stand out for its time, is that up to four players can play simultaneously, which wasn't common back at the beginning years of video games. Since two of the paddle controllers hook up to one port in the Atari 2600, you can play a four player game just as long as you have two sets of paddles, which can really add a lot to the fun factor and the trash talking. You and up to three of your companions can duke it out in the poker and blackjack games. Unfortunately, solitaire is only one player, but that doesn't take away much from this early Atari 2600 gem.

Even though Casino might be overly dated for today's standards since it doesn't feature any strip poker, roulette, keno, etc., it's really a good game that can become an addiction to card players.

GRAPHICS - The graphics in Casino are fairly basic, but they are pleasing. The background just consists of a dark shade of green and a lighter shade of green put together, and the cards are just squares with a black or red number and/or letter printed on them, but they look cool.

SOUND – Casino's sounds are also basic. When you place bets or place cards on the screen, you'll just hear a normal, everyday beep. When you get a blackjack or lose a game, you'll hear some classic music that only lasts a second or two. The majority of the other sounds such as when the dealer cuts the cards, is also basic, but like the graphics, they go great with the game and they're not bad at all.

CONTROL - The control is ASAP, as simple as possible. All you have to do is move the paddle's wheel left or right to increase/decrease your bets, or in solitaire, to move your card cursor left or right. Once you get the urge to put a card on the screen or place a bet, you just have to press the button. If you want to place a mediocre bet or move somewhere in the middle part of the screen, just spin the wheel on your paddle a little slower to get exactly where you want. It's that simple.

REPLAY VALUE - Casino is always a lot of fun to play, especially if you have somebody else or a few people to play it with. Unlike most video games, it's almost as much fun to play the game against the computer as it is real-life human opponents. If you like poker, blackjack, or solitaire, you'll get a lot of replay value and hours of fun out of Casino for many years to come.

OVERALL - Casino is a classic. It seems like it's one of the fairly overlooked games for the Atari 2600, but no matter how overlooked it is, it's still a great game that every Atari fan should own in their library.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/21/01, Updated 05/20/02


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