This DSiWare release of UNO marks the card game's second appearance on Nintendo platforms within a few weeks, but does it hold up better in pocket format than its recent WiiWare release?
As you'd expect, your cards appear on the bottom screen with the top screen showing the play area. Playing your cards is a simple matter of tapping them or dragging them towards the top screen, although there are traditional button controls available if you don't fancy gripping your stylus. For an introduction to the rules of the game, you can check out our review of the WiiWare version, but in all honesty even if you've no idea of what UNO entails you'll pick it up within about two minutes, such is its initial simplicity.
Like the WiiWare version before it, DSiWare UNO features Quick Play and Tournament modes, both of which rely on amassing points to succeed. Quick Play is good for learning the rules at first, but Tournament mode offers up more variety by offering fifteen stages, each with different rules and win conditions: penalties, UNO 7-0 and more all feature to initiate you into the world of UNO. To clear a stage in Tournament mode, you have to reach the top of the points charts within five rounds, rather than simply win three out of five hands. This means you could pass the stage by winning the first hand or play all five rounds, win three and still not proceed if your opponents out-scored you. It's frustrating to lose the first hand, play four more and then succeed with your first try after the continue, and feels like a waste of time.
Along the Tournament road you'll unlock achievements, eight card designs and twelve backgrounds, each with its own change of music too. You can swap these designs in and out at any time during a single-player match or Tournament - perfect if you fancy a change mid-game. There's precious little else to unlock, although in a game like this there's not really much call for it, so at least the decks and backgrounds bring a little variety to proceedings.
If you tire of playing against the CPU, you'll be pleased to know that UNO supports Nintendo WiFi Connection for some reasonably speedy online play. You can create a room with a custom ruleset or join an existing room, either with a quick search or by looking for certain rules, with the search over in sixty seconds. There's also the ever-present Friend Codes that let you match against friends - without voice chat, sadly - but whichever way you slice it, you'll be playing UNO online in no time. If you find a decent bunch to play with you can even choose to play with them again after the match, ensuring some steady competition if you're that way inclined. Of course, there's also full local multiplayer if you and a friend fancy some UNO-based fun, but there's no DS Download Play, so it's copies of UNO all-round. Thanks to the online leaderboards you can also see how you stack up against other UNO DSiWare players around the world and your friends, but unless you're extremely patient and capable you'll be lucky to see the top fifty!
Using the DSi's cameras, you can change your player icon to anything you can photograph, though understandably this won't show up when playing against strangers. The ability to use custom backgrounds or decks would have been nice additions, but sadly you're limited to plastering your tiny contorted faces onto coloured balls. There's no cutesy Mii-style characters, with each player represented by an icon, but it keeps the screen nice and clear so it's no bad thing.
On the whole, UNO fares far better on DSi than the Wii - the interface works nicely, the online player is smooth and enjoyable and you have the added benefit of pick-up-and-play whenever you like. There isn't a huge amount of solo content here, and if you're after local multiplayer you may as well grab a deck of the cards, but the online multiplayer is worth a pop at 500 Points, and it's enjoyable enough to play when you have a spare few minutes.