With all the excitement over the iPhone and iPod Touch games it’s easy to forget that the original iPod can also play an impressive array of games. While I was waiting for my shiney new iPod Touch to arrive I decided to see what my Classic had to offer – Texas Hold’em Poker caught my eye.
The game was cheaper than the versions available on home consoles- only $4.99 (World Championship Poker on the DS is around $19.99), so I didn’t have high expectations for an immersive experience.
After working through the quick tutorial that shows you how to use the click-wheel to bet, you are plunged into the game proper. The game progresses from a single table contest on to tournaments that involve a number of tables feeding into a final show down.
I was surprised how fleshed-out the experience was. First off, the interface worked well. Flipping through betting options with the wheel had a tactile feel to it – and reminded me of my nervous card shuffling antics as I struggled to make a decision in real life games.
Visually the game impresses too. Not only does it offer a couple of views, but your opponents are in full motion. As time goes on you can really start to learn their different nervous ticks and tells. Some of them are quite easy to read while others take a little longer to figure out.
But it is as you spend more time with the game that you realize the real genius here is the player’s AI (Artificial Intelligence) – it’s both realistic and balanced. They make sensible lay downs as well as pulling the trigger on all-ins when the moment it right.
Although I had played poker a bit before playing this version I was soon hunting around for advice. (There are plenty of quality guides available, like the clear and informative Strategy Guide of Pokerlistings). It became something of a side game, trying out the these strategies on different players to see the response I would get. My other half would joke that I was becoming a poker geek as well as gadget geek. “Geek squared” as she put it.
This was actually quite near the truth for me. The combination of a retro iPod game, slick controls and proper poker got me pretty hooked. What’s more you can listen to your own music while you play and nerd out on your performance stats afterwards. All round I was impressed. If it had the touch and online capabilities of the iPhone/iPod Touch it would be perfect.
To all those who think they have to get an iPhone/iPod Touch, well you do at some point, but until then don’t forget great games like this on the standard iPods.
Wired: Perfect commuting pastime.
Tired: Have to plug iPod in to download.
Price/maker: $4.99 (Apple Store)