Dogs Playing Poker
With so many poker games on the market, be it PC or portable, it’s amazing that it’s taken this long for someone to finally bring the classic paintings of Cassius Coolidge to life. The team at Candywriter refused to live another day in a world without a Dogs Playing Poker video game, and after spending a few days with the end result, I can whole-heartedly assure you that the world of portable poker is a better for it.
Based on the series of oil paintings that have collectively been referred to by the same name, Dogs Playing Poker is a single player Texas hold’em game featuring a variety of anthropomorphic dogs (and the occasional walrus or fox) that offers up an incredibly satisfying poker experience. The rules of hold’em are fairly common knowledge, but if you’re relatively new to poker you can take comfort in knowing that Dogs Playing Poker offers an excellent tutorial that can get anyone prepared to match with with the canine competition.
Each of the game’s 20 animals will offer up small animations and sounds that can give you a good indication of whether or not they’re bluffing, and every dog seems to have its own playing style and personality, forcing you to consider each animal differently when trying to win a hand. And those animals? They’re considering you too. Bluff too often, go all-in too much, and the game will learn your style and try to play against it just like real competition would.
The game is divided up into 5 rounds, with each round getting its own unique background and music. To win a round you’ll need to bankrupt every other player at the table. And like any good game of poker, it can be a roller coaster ride of ups and downs that will take quite some time to complete. During our play, individual rounds have lasted anywhere from 5-30 minutes – and with tournaments lasting 5 rounds, that time can quickly add up.
Thankfully the team at Candywriter recognizes this fact, and includes a number of options to cater to the 5-minute nature of most iPhone gamers. Exiting the game at any point will allow you to jump back in exactly where you left off. You can tap the screen at any time to fast forward through the competitions moves. You can even turn off animations and set the game to auto-deal in the options if you’re really looking to speed things up.
Dogs Playing Poker gets so many things right that it’s easy to overlook the few areas that could use improvement. Still, that doesn’t mean they should be overlooked. In terms of visuals, the game feels like a slightly uncomfortable hodgepodge. While the backgrounds maintain that same classic oil-painting feel that inspired the game, the canine characters feel more like flash animations – and the two styles just don’t mix. The customization options are also a little lacking, offering up only 4 breeds to pick from at first and requiring you to unlock the rest through winning tournaments. And while a good fit for this title, the total lack of multiplayer is bound to be a turn off for some.
So many poker games on the market spend time too much time focussing on the multiplayer experience, so much so that a solid single player game of hold’em has become something of an anomaly nowadays. Dogs Playing Poker fills that void nicely, offering up tournament play with AI partners that will never bail partway through, never make crazy mistakes, and never disappoint. It may be lacking the multiplayer experience of other titles, but in focussing solely on the single player, Dogs Playing Poker has created a top notch experience that any poker fan looking for a portable fix should absolutely place in their pockets.