There are loads of games for mobile that take the shape of something familiar and then twist it around to make something new. Poker Showdown is one of them – it mixes poker, turn-based battles and lite-RPG concepts into a pretty exciting and interesting experience.
The game is all about building the best poker hand out of the cards you’re dealt. If you’re not familiar with the popular card game, there’s a handy cheat sheet that lets you know what you should be aiming for.
Every round you decide how many of your bullets to bet – these are your attacks. You’ve got a set number of bullets for every battle. Once you’ve run out – if you haven’t finished off your opponent – it’s game over. You start with four cards and need to choose which ones to put into the middle to make your final hand.
Each card you put into the middle is replaced at random from a standard deck. You’re guaranteed to get the number of attacks you’ve bet, but the hand that you make increases the effectiveness of the bullets. Your base attack score increases more and more the stronger your hand.
Your opponent isn’t playing cards, though. They’ve got a gun that reloads after a number of turns, and a set of boosts, buffs and attacks that they draw at random too. Deeper into the experience your foes get minions who you’ll need to take out as well.
There’s a rich mix of ideas here and Poker Showdown is well polished and easy to pick up. There’s an inherent randomness to the experience, as you might imagine, but if you play smart you can take down most foes on your first try.
The game is built around an energy system – confusingly the currency you spend to fight is also called bullets – and it’s a little bit stingy after you run out for the second time. It can also get a bit repetitive, since your only real tactical choice is how many bullets you want to fire each turn.
Poker Showdown certainly has some interesting innovations, and when it gets things right it’s difficult not to enjoy yourself. There’s fun to be had here, for sure, but the game’s limitations keep it from breaking into the upper echelons of mobile card games.