(WiiWare)

UNO (WiiWare)

Game Review

UNO Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Sean Aaron

Gameloft WiiWare card games, take two!

Like many American board games, Uno was started by your average Joe making sets in his house and selling them to friends and neighbours before getting picked up by a big outfit and made into a classic. It's a fun social game that's been around for nearly 40 years now and is played around the world. Given the game's enduring popularity it should come as no surprise to see a WiiWare version released and who better to release it than Gameloft, one of the first purveyors of downloads for the Wii.

Before getting into the WiiWare version of the game, let's go over the basics. UNO is a multi-player card game where the goal is to play out your hand before your opponent(s). There are four colours (in place of suits) with each colour having cards numbered from 0-9 and then special cards to Skip other players, Reverse the direction of play or force the next player to Draw Two cards. On each player's turn they may play a card from their hand so long as it either matches the last-played colour, is of the same type (e.g. 8's can play on any other coloured 8) or is a wild card; if none of these is true the player draws and play moves to the next person. If the card is a special card then its effects are immediately applied. Wild cards can be played to change the colour if the player so desires, but Wild Draw Four cards can only be played if the person playing the card has no other options in hand. Once players are down to one card on hand, they must declare UNO! If someone else calls UNO on the one-carded player before they do, the light-decked one is penalized by picking up more cards.

Gameloft's version of UNO is very much in line with the rules outlined above. If you've ever played UNO the game will be immediately familiar, though the card faces have been updated to replace the English words of the original card release with more international-friendly symbols. Like most Gameloft games, UNO has a nice, clean look to it. You can create up to four different profiles based on Miis and then you're dropped into the main menu. There are three main game modes: Quick Play and Tournament, which are both solitary modes, and then a local or online Multiplayer mode. CPU-controlled players are represented by what look like Miis given the Gameloft treatment: they're a little slicker, though not the typical "sexy" characters from past Gameloft card game efforts. Also unlike a typical Gameloft game, the CPU players are devoid of personality outside of having three different reactions to getting poked by your cursor. This might not seem like a big deal, but UNO is a social card game, so playing against a room full of speechless Miis that do nothing but occasionally frown or wave is less than inspiring.

Given the lack of any tutorial outside of the Operations Guide, the single player modes are certainly useful for learning to play the game — even experienced players will need to get used to the fact that you're expected to click an icon to declare UNO! Tournament Mode presents the challenge of playing through 15 different matches which start out as one-on-one games and work their way up to full 6-player matches with different rule variations in play (such as disallowing bluffing when playing Wild Draw Four or adding additional penalties to players on the receiving end of Draw Two chains). There's an incentive in the form of allowing players to unlock different background colours and card backs, but given the former aren't terribly interesting and the latter all feature the same UNO logo with different colour combinations it's not really enough to draw anyone but people looking to treat their insomnia or UNO junkies looking for a fix. The fact that you play against varying numbers of opponents in the Tournament does raise the question of why you cannot choose to play games with anything other than 4 or 6 players in the other game modes (or why target scores are limited to a choice of 250, 500 or 1000), but honestly you'd probably have more fun playing solitaire with a real deck of cards (UNO or otherwise) than either of the single player modes.

The local multiplayer version of UNO has to be the dumbest idea since Hasbro Family Game Night took a stab at Battleship on consoles. Of course Hasbro Family Game Night instructed players to look away from the screen during other people's turns, but in UNO you're looking right at player one's hand from the beginning and then the other players in turn without pause. You could view it as adding a memory game aspect to the proceedings, but you should be asking yourself why you'd want to sit with your friends pointing remotes at a screen to play a game that's probably already sitting on a shelf in your closet.

Clearly the only mode that should be getting used at all is the online multiplayer. For the most part it's pretty good, but there are a few issues that are slightly annoying. If you choose to just join a game rather than start a custom match you'll get dropped into a game already in progress (if none are in progress then you'll get a fresh game against CPU-players after the 60-second countdown). When you join a game already underway you'll replace a CPU player — this could be a little unfair since you don't get a fresh hand, but rather pick up the hand of the bot being replaced. You could easily be declaring UNO with your opening play and ending the game with the next — well done!

Since most people will be playing online using an array of canned text comments you'd think that the developers might have made them easy to select, but you'd be mistaken. After clicking a little icon next to your Mii to bring up the available selections, you'll see multiple pages with a few choices each that can only be scrolled through by clicking on the right arrow (no, they didn't even bother to provide a wrap-around feature). No (DPAD) or (+)/(-) shortcuts here. By the time you've found something you want to say, not only will the moment have passed, but it will be your turn again. Depending on your sensibilities there is some fun to be had by being a jerk thanks to the presence of "Hahahahaha" (click right three times) and "Are you out of your mind?" (click right five times), which has to be the best piece of canned dialogue to ever grace an online game.

Of course what got everyone's attention was the fact that this is the first WiiWare game to feature WiiSpeak support. It's a no-brainer in a social game like UNO and it works well except for one big problem: friends of friends cannot hear each other. Having two people attempting to talk to you at once who don't realise they're talking over each other is funny for about 30 seconds before you just want to turn it off — exactly what kind of testing went into this game before publication? Even if you and all your friends have swapped Wii codes to allow speech you cannot always talk to each other thanks to odd decision to remove speech and text communication from the game results area following a match. In the game and the lobby you can chat away, but after the match you can't even congratulate people on their performance or exit the game — even the home button is disabled on the results screen!

Setting up a custom game allows you to try out rules variants and set the target score (no online tournament option, though) and number of players. Custom games will allow friends you've registered (using special 12-digit UNO friend codes, of course!) to find you, though you can also open it up so that anyone can join in to replace the CPU players that you'll initially be facing. Players who quit are immediately replaced by CPU players or online humans, which means that games aren't interrupted by people quitting in the middle of a hand. There's some incentive to stick around in the form of a leaderboard that won't count points earned in games you duck out of. Despite the issues noted, this can be a fun online game if you have no one to play cards with at home and it's likely to have an enduring online community given the popularity of the real thing.

Conclusion

UNO is certainly a classic card game and highly recommended, but this WiiWare version falls short of the mark by splitting its focus between unnecessary offline modes and an online mode that could have used some more polish. If you like the idea of playing an online card game then you can certainly have some fun with this, just be sure everyone has Wii Speak and has swapped codes first!

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User Comments (39)

JonWahlgrenAdmin

#1

JonWahlgren said:

Think I'll be sticking with my Batman UNO cards and the XBLA version that came with my 360.

Chunky_Droid

#2

Chunky_Droid said:

I heard the 360 version is fantastic, sounds like Gameloft dropped the ball on what should have been a simple concept. Ah well, lucky I have a set of Simpsons UNO cards in the cupboard!

CorbsAdmin

#3

Corbs said:

I love the Xbox 360 game. I play it online whenever I get the chance. That's a shame that this version turned out so mediocre.

Stuffgamer1

#4

Stuffgamer1 said:

Yikes, this version sure does have some problems! The PS3 version is very similar (also from Gameloft), but it works MUCH better with all-access voice chat (assuming the players actually have bluetooth headsets), and I suspect the button controls work better than the point-and-clicky stuff you're talking about in the review. The in-game avatars are underwhelming compared to the Mii support in the WiiWare version, but I'd call that a small price to pay.

Xkhaoz

#5

Xkhaoz said:

Good review. I'm going to get the DSi version instead when it comes.

cheetahman91

#8

cheetahman91 said:

Gameloft can manage to ruin UNO too? I officially have no confidence in their future games. What's the point of having Wiispeak if you have to exchange FC's? That's pretty dumb. Thankfully I have the 360 version.

megaboomface2

#9

megaboomface2 said:

i hate uno for my 360 so i don't think ill get this at all unless everyone of my friends buys it not likely sorry for going off topic guys but Corbie i think i played once with you for 360

KnucklesSonic8

#10

KnucklesSonic8 said:

Hmmmmm... DSiWare version is looking like the better deal right about now. Guess we'll have to wait and see.

Sneaker13

#12

Sneaker13 said:

I would give it a 7/10 myself. I like it so far. I thought the offline multiplayer was stupid too, but the remember part really worked for me and my sister. Like a game within a game. Haven't done online enough, was a bit confused with all the different rules and I haven't played this kind of UNO before. Maybe try tournament before going online. Getting familiar with the rules and all.

Objection

#13

Objection said:

Has anyone got the iPhone version? It's also $5 so i was wondering if it was any better.

fudgenuts

#14

fudgenuts said:

I think this one is better then the XBLA version. It has more features, and you don't have to pay for additional decks. And it's the same price; My question is how is the XBLA version better than this one?

BulbasaurusRex

#15

BulbasaurusRex said:

This is my only online Uno option, and I don't care about talking to my opponents (WiiSpeak or given canned lines), so I'll get this eventually after it comes to North America.

@cheetahman91 What was Gameloft supposed to do when Nintendo requires friend codes for friend games and only allows WiiSpeak among friends (although Gameloft should've allowed friend-of-friend chat)? There may be a better method that Nintendo could use for registering friends (What do the other systems use?) or at least make your friend code the same for every game, but I don't want a random stranger cussing me out when I make him draw 4.

Stuffgamer1

#16

Stuffgamer1 said:

@cheetahman91: Every WiiSpeak game to date requires Friend Codes to work. It's part of Nintendo's "children and online interaction" paranoia; you're not allowed to talk to strangers online. They'd better adopt Xbox Live-style parental controls on the next system...this Friend Code BS has GOT to go!

@fudgenuts: At least with the DLC decks on the 360, you get new graphics, music, and gameplay options. All the decks in this version are exactly the same, but with different-colored backgrounds. So I'd say the 360 DLC is a positive optional upgrade, and not something to complain about. In fact, I wish OTHER games would have DLC like that (I want a Monopoly game with downloadable theme boards)!

brandonbwii

#18

brandonbwii said:

When a friend of a friend is online, can't you automatically add him to your WiiSpeak lists? (Scratch head in fc/mic confusion Looks to AC as an example)

Caligula13

#19

Caligula13 said:

I am playing it since Friday. A great game. 6/10 is not what I would have given the game.

#21

said:

@Caligula13 - what do you agree/disagree of this review?
I do want this game but after reading this I am not sure

WillhamBoyGeniu

#22

WillhamBoyGeniu said:

I hope nintendo doesn't change friend codes for the way some of you are complaining about. Friends are friends not "after vsing someone in a match you decide to be friends" they are still strangers.

odd69

#24

odd69 said:

I've got the real Uno card game and guess what?It's the Nintendo themed one. Weird huh? You'd think they'd release something like that instead

Sean_Aaron

#25

Sean_Aaron said:

@Ezekiel: Agreed. I don't fault Nintendo's friend code system at all when it comes to speech function, but clearly Gameloft dropped the ball here.

If The Conduit hadn't implemented the ability to hear friends of friends there would have been a internet bloodbath; having experienced what it's like not to have that, it's pretty obvious why High Voltage put that in there! Naturally I had assumed it was some kind of default functionality (after all that's how the Wii Speak Channel works!), but apparently not...

I'm hoping Gameloft takes some lessons learned from this game and applies it to their next online card game (and I do expect there to be another, and another, and another, etc.). From their previous titles' performance I don't expect this review to have any impact on sales and really I don't think the game deserves to fail; I just wish they had focused on the online and kept the local play options to a minimum; it could have been a much better game that way. As it stands it feels like it was rushed through testing and not given the extra polish that would have gotten it a better score.

Ultimately you cannot have a better game of UNO than sitting around with friends; especially a cutthroat game which you just cannot play effectively on a console -- even with voice.

Sneaker13

#27

Sneaker13 said:

Yesterday, I came home to find both my Wii Remotes drained. My sister (who had a day off), had been playing UNO for 7 hours. So it's safe to say that she really liked it.

@Sean, when I checked the Dutch list two days ago, it had entered at number 6 (with My Aquarium at number 1 again) so this will do great again. And frankly, I don't mind. I like it so far. Just need to get more used to the different rules.

@Skippi, Yes, it supports WiiSpeak.

giannis

#28

giannis said:

my 6 years old son,he accepted so easily for the first playing,
for me is a very relaxing after a hard day.

fluffychick

#29

fluffychick said:

"UNO is certainly a classic card game and highly recommended"??? Have you never heard of Tichu, For Sale, 6 Nimmt, San Juan, Mu, etc?

vakama94

#32

vakama94 said:

so, you have to have wii speak and the friend code of UNO or how does the wii speak system in the game works?

KanrakusPizza

#33

KanrakusPizza said:

Honestly. A SIX???!!!!! What the heck are you thinking? Oh well. That aint stopping me from buying this for my DSi.

Thomas_Joseph

#35

Thomas_Joseph said:

I think a 6 out of 10 is being generous given what this game has going against it as evidenced by the review.

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