Go all-in with these great iPhone card games

Nov 30, 2010
Games

Card-based video games are in no way unique to the iPhone, but because of the incredible number of gaming options and portability of the device, it might be solely responsible for the demise of actual decks of cards. That’s a slight exaggeration, but the App Store is home to every imaginable card game (two versions […]

Card-based video games are in no way unique to the iPhone, but because of the incredible number of gaming options and portability of the device, it might be solely responsible for the demise of actual decks of cards. That’s a slight exaggeration, but the App Store is home to every imaginable card game (two versions of 52-card pickup!), and if you want to play a card game, you’d probably be better off with an iPod than a deck of cards.

UNO ($4.99)

As far as iOS card games go, it’s UNO, and everything else. The Gameloft app is, by far, the most successful card-based game in the App Store, and it’s not based on name value alone. The game is presented with an overhead camera, and things are simply controlled by dragging the desired card to the middle. Better yet, there are a number of customization options, a tournament mode and a multiplayer mode that works with Gameloft LIVE’s social networking feature. In truth, there’s nothing special about UNO – the visuals are good, not great, and there isn’t anything unexpected here. But it’s a classic game, and the app certainly has everything an UNO enthusiast would want, and it’s recommended for anyone who remembers the game fondly.

Texas Hold’Em ($4.99)

Apple’s Texas Hold’Em is a personal favorite of mine, though I do have a few problems with it. Namely the game hasn’t been updated in two years, which is fine because it’s a stable and complete-enough game, but you’d also expect a price drop for a game that hasn’t changed since 2008. But enough complaining, because there’s a lot of good here, as well. Instead of using an overhead view of a table, with each person represented as cards, players are given lifelike models that add quite a bit to the game (there’s also an option for the traditional overhead view). The game adds replay value with various table, with you having to earn enough money on lower tables to buy-in to the ritzier ones. There’s also a local Wi-Fi multiplayer mode that supports up to nine players. Certainly, there are newer and cheaper poker options on the iPhone, but Texas Hold’Em remains one of the best.

Solitaire (Free, $0.99 to remove ads)

It wouldn’t be a card game list without solitaire. The only question is, which one? There are at least three apps by that name, but the most popular (and rightfully so) is Mobilityware’s Solitaire. It is very reminiscent of the Windows version of Klondike solitaire that so many are familiar with. Of course, instead of navigating the game with a mouse, you use simple drag-and-drop controls. It’s the same game in just about every other way. Other features include landscape and portrait views, standard and Vegas scoring, various backgrounds and the option to draw a single card, or three at a time. Solitaire also tracks stats, and given that there’s a free version, this is the obvious winner in the great iOS solitaire war.

Hearts 3D ($0.99)

Graphics are almost always the least-important thing in card games, but that doesn’t mean developers shouldn’t try. Take Hearts 3D for example, an app that is far from visually revolutionary, but one that does make the effort, and is a little flashier than your typical card game. Aside from the 3D graphics, the highlight here is the inclusion of achievements and a helpful tutorial for newbies. There are also some things missing, most notably a multiplayer mode. It would also be nice to have more gameplay and display options, though this game is only a couple of weeks old, so there’s still hope that relevant updates are on the way. But even as is, Hearts 3D is about as good as the game gets in the App Store, and given its reasonable price, it’s also about as good as card gaming gets.

Sword & Poker 2 ($3.99)

Sword & Poker 2 is a game unlike any other on this list – actually it’s a game unlike any other, period. As the name suggests, it mixes RPG gameplay with poker, a curious mix that works surprisingly well. The game’s battles are actually poker games, with you dealing damage to your opponent based on how good a hand you can form. It’s not your typical poker game either, as nine cards are placed on a five-by-five board, and players have to place two cards on either side of three cards to form a five-card hand. Not only is there a nice tutorial to guide you through all of this, but early opponents aren’t that difficult, so while it’s probably different from anything you’ve played before, it can be picked up quickly. I recommend checking out the free version first, but I’m confident anyone looking for a different take on a poker game will fall in love with this app.

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David Lister

David Lister is a freelance writer in Chicago. He is a former editor and writer at the NationalSportsReview.com and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. 

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