Classic variants of digital card games have been around for quite a while. Many people’s (including mine) first experience of using a PC involved playing games such as Solitaire. But over recent years, the popularity of other card games have risen quite a lot. Online poker has become massive and collectable card games such as Pokémon TCG, Magic: The Gathering, and Hearthstone have assembled a lot of attention. UNO for the Nintendo Switch is here to remind us that classic card games are, fortunately, not dead just yet.
For those that have never played UNO before, the objective is to be the first player to get rid of his or her cards. It’s that plain and simple once you get right down to it. Every player starts with seven cards and the rest are lay face down. You then have to match either by the number, colour, or the symbol/Action. For example, if the Discard Pile has a blue number 3 card then you simply have to place either a blue card or a card with a 3 on it, simple.
You then start to come across some of the other aspects of the game and some of them take a little bit of getting used to but it’s nothing too difficult to work out. Action cards, for example, all have different ways of mixing up the game slightly, for example, you can pick up a ‘Wild’ card which allows you to use that card regardless of the colour or number and then you have to state which colour you want to change to. You also have others like ‘Reverse’ and ‘Skip’ cards, which reverse the turns and misses out the next players turn respectively.
Unlike a lot of the aforementioned newer card games, UNO doesn’t take countless hours to understand the ins and outs. Sure, it’s not an easy task completely mastering it, but you can at least understand much of what to do relatively quickly. Translating UNO to consoles was always going to bring up a few issues, none more so than the fact that, because it is a card game where you don’t want to your opponents to see your cards, regular multiplayer is just not possible on one Switch. It’ll be a major problem for some people and there isn’t really anything that could have been done to avoid such an issue, which is just simply unfortunate.
A plus for the digital version is the inclusion of a 2v2 co-op mode, which has been cleverly included as a way of dampening down the disappointment of not being able to play with friends and family on the same Switch console. Sure, if all you want to do is play a single match against friends and family then you’re still going to be disappointed. But nonetheless, it certainly adds in a different variety of strategy as you have to work with your teammate in order to have the best chance of winning.
Another advantage of the digital version of UNO that the physical version will never have is the ability to play by yourself as you can just play against the CPU player. So if you ever fancy brushing up on your skills and having a quick match, then the option is always there regardless of whether you have friends with you or not.
With this being an Ubisoft-made game, they have included a handful of themed packs based on a few of their IP’s such as Rayman, Rabbids and Just Dance, which is a nice touch. Each of these decks has unique cards which are all within the spirit of UNO and don’t feel out of place. These can be turned off before the game if you wish.
There is an online mode here too, just don’t expect to find a lot of active players and the number of players is only going to diminish from here on out too. If you have a friend who owns the game though, there’s no reason why you couldn’t get into matches fairly easily if you organise to play at the same time as each other.
Aesthetically, you can’t really fault it. It does what it needs to do and whilst you may think that it is only a card game, they could still have easily have messed it up. The menus are easy to navigate, the options are clear and precise and it doesn’t have a million and one things going on at once when you do start to play.
The biggest barrier for people would be that not only is UNO cheaper to buy in its physical form, it also allows you to play proper competitive matches against friends and family, which isn’t possible on the Switch unless you have multiple consoles and multiple versions of the game. Playing this version of it does have its advantages, but whilst you can only play against the CPU and online on the digital version of UNO, there’s no reason why you couldn’t play a co-op match with the physical deck. But overall, if you are looking for a streamlined and easy to play version of the classic card game, then why not try your hand with UNO for the Switch.