Sometimes all a sequel needs is a few little tweaks.
With only four short months separating this sequel’s release from the original, some might be quick to call Sword & Poker 2 little more than a cash grab trying to capitalize on the recent popularity of the first. But those criticisms quickly fall to the wayside for anyone who takes the plunge to play. Sword & Poker 2 manages to add a number of minor twists and tweaks that take the outstanding gameplay of Sword & Poker and makes it even more enjoyable than before.
The bulk of the actual gameplay remains unchanged; this is a fact that should greatly please anyone who has experienced the original game. Players will complete a series of battles against a variety of monsters using a terrifically fun poker-puzzle combat system. At the start of each round, 9 cards occupy the center of a 5×5 grid. Both the player and the opponent will take turns placing pairs of cards on the grid in an attempt to make a poker hand. Every hand you are able to make deals damage to your opponent, and the last man standing wins the face off.
If there’s anything you’re worried didn’t survive the jump from the original, don’t worry – everything you loved about Sword & Poker is still here. Players still have access to a variety of magic spells, purchase weaponry and shields that will tweak your strengths and defences, and navigate floor and floor of dungeon in an effort to conclude a flaky and largely ignorable plot.
These basic concepts were the heart of the first Sword & Poker, and they remain completely unchanged here – but new additions improve upon what’s come before. Rather than going into battle blind, for example, you’ll be able to check out all of your opponents’ stats before attacking them. For more strategically-minded gamers, this can let you know which of the opponents’ hands you’ll want to try and block, or which magic might be best to bring into battle.
The game has also broken out the dungeon concept a little differently than before. Whereas the original game took place in a single dungeon with many floors, Sword & Poker 2 is made up of several different dungeons. Some of these dungeons even affect the gameplay, like the one dungeon that forces you to try and find the right path to the exit in the dark.
Sword & Poker 2 has made a number of fantastic tweaks, but there was one thing that we were hoping to see here was conspicuously absent – online play. The game includes a great single-device multiplayer where two friends can sit opposite each other and do battle (not unlike Tap Tap Revenge), and while we definitely dig this offering, the whole experience practically begging for online competition and leaderboards. Partnering up with a service provider like OpenFeint or Plus+ would do the Sword & Poker franchise a world of good.
With a number of terrific tweaks, new dungeons, spells and weapons, Sword & Poker 2 offers up more of everything we loved in the original and some twists and turns that have only made the experience better. If you weren’t a fan of the original for some reason, Sword & Poker 2 isn’t going to turn you around. But for the rest of us? You can never have too much of a good thing.