Overall Rating: 1/5 Stars
American Video Entertainment was a video game developer that produced some basic diversion titles for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console, such as a version of Solitaire. Among their card-game cartridges was also their version of Blackjack, released in 1992. The question remained, though: Is it worthwhile to produce a cards simulation onto a cart?
Blackjack can actually be played by one or two players, and has a promising array of options available from the title screen: The table limit, the amount of cash the player(s) begins with, the color of the cards, how many decks are used (1-3), where music and sound effects will be on or off, etc.
Once the game begins, though, this is just a fairly straightforward simulator for the card game Blackjack, also known by some as “21,” after the ideal number of points. Basically, the dealer deals himself one card up (visible) and one card down (hidden), while the player gets two cards as well. The idea is to try and get as close to 21 as possible without going over (“busting”), as determined by the value on the cards: Numbers are valued equivalently, face cards are 10, and the Ace can be 11 or 1. Then, the player can choose to “hit” (take another card) or “stand” (be content with the hand given) as the basic options. From the starting cash given, bets can be made at a minimum of $10, with a win against the dealer granting double the bet back, a Blackjack (getting 21 exactly) netting 2.5 times the amount bet, and busting or losing to the dealer losing the money.
There are slightly more complex options, like splitting two like cards into two separate hands to play with in order to potentially boost winning more so, or paying for insurance if the dealer gets an ace card. If the player runs out of money, the game is over, available for restart. The “ending” is, when the player breaks the table limit (selectable at the title screen options), the text reads “PLAYER 1 BROKE THE BANK PRESS START FOR MENU” as the game ends. Underwhelming, somewhat.
This is a card-game simulator; thus, it shows images of playing cards against a one-color background with some bottom-screen text and an icon-toggle based interface. The card backs can be changed in terms of design and color, but otherwise, there really is nothing flashy, interesting, or noteworthy going on here; just the cold, clean, sterile presentation of a playable Blackjack sim.
There is one annoying background track that plays throughout the title screen, then another that can be heard upon winning. That could be incentive to win, one could suppose, since the gameplay itself is mostly silent, even with the music turned on. The sound effects are a beep, a boop, and the whishy “slap” of the cards being dealt onto the table. This is not a tour de force of audio, folks.
American Video Entertainment made its business out of taking pre-existing games from the real world and putting them into 8-bit cartridge format in examples such as Blackjack. The idea is hardly original and, the sad part is, is much better done in titles like the Casino Kid series or even Vegas Dream. Some of those games had differing opponents, overworld scenes, different games, scalable difficulty, etc. In Blackjack, the rules are standard, but this includes such choices as the dealer winning on a tie, making Blackjack classically a bit difficult. There is hardly any replay value, nothing really entertaining at hand, and only potentially interesting as a two-player bout. But, really, two people could just break out a deck of cards and have a superior experience – with better graphics. This is a one-star game out of five.