First and best in Sierra's underrated series of computerized parlor games based on the most popular anthology book of the same name, Hoyle Official Book of Games features six popular card games: crazy eights, old maid, hearts, gin rummy, cribbage, and klondike. What sets the game apart from other card games are the excellent graphics, intuitive mouse-based user interface, and -- best of all -- the ability to choose popular Sierra game characters as your opponents. |
Each card game comes complete with well-written on-line rules that can be called up at any time. Opponents you can choose to play against are classified into nine "serious" and nine "not-so-serious" players. Clicking on their portraits yields a brief introduction, along with games they are good at. Although these are the same 18 opponents for all card games, the fact that you only play against 1-3 of them at a time keeps the replay value high. One of the best features of the game is the conversation you will hear among the opponents, as well as between them and you, the player. This is most fun coming from opponents who are characters from famous Sierra games e.g. King's Quest and Space Quest. King Graham, for instance, will brag about his adventures in Daventry, Roger Wilco will dreadfully recall his tasks as a galactic janitor, and Sonny Bonds will share anecdotes about police life. They will even bicker among themselves depending on how well they know each other! The "not-so-serious" players (which most Sierra characters are) will also give you gentle hints and nudges when you spend a long time thinking, or make an invalid move. You can also turn off their incessant chatter once it begins to get on your nerves. These opponents are also well-animated, and you can use their facial expressions as signals of how well they are doing. It is entertaining to watch Princess Rosella grimace after getting a bad hand, and that grumpy Colonel Henry (from Colonel's Bequest) grit his teeth and concede defeat after losing badly :)
Overall, Hoyle Official Book of Games is a great collection of card games that may not boast the best AI, but is very user-friendly and enjoyable. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Sierra adventure games and card game beginners. Experts, however, may want to skip this one and play QQP's Bridge Olympiad instead. Thumbs up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs