Review: The Seller (DSiWare)

Sell it

Quick! What's the most convoluted and fun-deprived card game on the DSiWare service?

Wrong: it's The Seller, an unnecessarily complicated and almost completely unstimulating card game that probably won't even keep you awake long enough to irritate the Hell out of you.

Now, let's get one thing clear: The Seller isn't broken. It's (almost) a perfectly functional game, and we're sure that if you decide to dig deep enough and play long enough there's actually at least some enjoyment to be had with it. But you're going to have to do a lot of digging, and in the end, it just isn't worth it.

The description on the DSi Shop Channel would have you believe there's some engrossing story about betrayal and revenge here, but this all just boils down to a single three-second, one-frame introductory cutscene that shows an anime boy and girl standing in the street while it's raining. Corporate espionage: it's never been so vague.

But you're not downloading this game for the story, of course; you're downloading it for the gameplay. Well, sorry kids, but the developers were lying when they promised “a witty card game with a few simple rules to test your intelligence,” too.

Seeing as there's zero dialogue, exposition, character interaction or really, character animations of any kind, we promise you that there is absolutely no wit to be found here; and, after a read-through of the game's poorly worded and thoroughly lacklustre tutorial, you'll quickly realise that calling the game “simple” was more than slight embellishment as well.

The concept itself is simple enough: you're given 12 regular cards, and 8-12 “resource” cards at the beginning of the game, and your goal is to be the first player to sell all of his/her resources. The resources in question are, as best we can tell, oil, cows, electricity, water, handshakes, angry snake-creatures and boxes full of question marks. This is where things start to get shaky in The Seller: it's really hard to tell what things are, exactly.

For example, like in UNO, there's a lot of “action cards” that can shake things up, like reversing the player order, undoing someone's last move, and some other stuff that's impossible to make out. The cards themselves have nothing but a letter (to indicate what kind of card it is) and a symbol (to signify the action/amount of dollars you'll receive for playing it). The thing is, there's a lot of cards – 17 types, to be exact, and several of them have varying types of their own. Have fun memorising what all of them do, because you can't tell what they do just by looking at them, and the tutorial and help pages can only be accessed from the main menu. Want to refresh your memory on what the heck that card with the chair on it does? Sorry bud, you just lost your progress.

And trust us, you're not going to suspend your game once you've started, because these games can last a really long time. Also like UNO, this is one of those games that can go on forever. When you finally get down to one resource card, your opponent will lay some card down that magically adds 10 more resources to your deck. At least it'll seem like magic, because the computer players complete their turn so quickly that it's hard to tell what exactly they did to completely screw you over, leading to frustration, rage and violent touchscreen-stabbings.

These problems would actually be greatly alleviated if there was some kind of local multiplayer mode, because for one thing it would have justified the 500 Point price tag, but it also would allow you and a buddy to play the game at your own pace, and maybe help each other out with remembering which cards do what. File that one in the “it's nice to want things” bin, because there isn't any multiplayer to be found here. You've got a career mode, a free play mode (which is just career mode but with adjustable difficulty settings) and a tutorial. That's it.

Conclusion

500 Points is a ludicrous asking price for such a poor game, especially considering that for the same price you could get one of the wonderful Art Style games, or a ham sandwich or really, anything else. The Seller isn't broken, it's just an example of poor execution of an idea that, quite frankly, wasn't that great to begin with. Save your money, because you can't sell this one back.