Uno Review

Uno is another highly polished offering from Gameloft. The game is a faithful interpretation of one of our favorite childhood card games’”for better and for worse. Although this is undoubtedly Uno, we didn’t find it to be anywhere near as fun as the original game.

The game’s graphics are bright and well executed, with high contrast and a clean aesthetic in the classic graphic style of the cards. The game offers you a choice of in-game sound effects, or allows you to listen to your own tunes.

Several play modes are on offer here. You can play a quick game against computer opponents; enter a tournament; play locally or online via Wi-Fi; or swap one iDevice around. Each of these game options has its benefits, but none was a totally satisfying Uno experience.

The core of the problem is that Uno doesn’t really translate well to the iPhone platform. Uno has always been a social game, and this implementation’s interface breaks that social environment. That’s not to say the interface is bad. On the contrary, managing your hand and playing cards is done in way that feels very natural. You browse through your hand, and swipe/drag out the card you’d like to play.

But how do you gleefully shout “Uno!” in your opponents’ faces? You don’t–instead, you have to tap an “Uno” button right before you play your last card. It’s things like this that break the spirit of the original. Because the trash-talking, “Uno!” shouting, and card hiding are such an integral part of Uno, their absence is sorely felt.

Gameloft seems to have been well aware of Uno’s social nature, as the network play via Wi-Fi over your local network or the Internet has been nicely integrated. You won’t need to leave the game to set up an account to play. However, considering that the game limits play to a Wi-Fi connection, we expected speedier online play than we got. Maybe our opponents were just slow?

The closest the title gets to a proper social experience is in swap mode. You had your iDevice around to each player in turn (mind those reverses!). Unfortunately, swap-mode isn’t very smooth. You have to make your turn, pass the device to your opponent/friend, they have to tap the screen to access their cards, make their turn and then pass it on to the next player. A good game of card-based Uno can zip through at frenetic clip, but there’s no way to do that with this version.

In all, we had mixed feelings about Uno. The original game is so social, fast-paced, and focused on the cards themselves that it’s hard to see how any electronic version is going to stand up, whether it gets the Gameloft treatment or not. It may be a good choice to entertain children… but for about the same price, you can buy an equally portable set of Uno cards.

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