We pity the poor souls who paid their hard earned money on a dud as bad as 6-Hand Video Poker, where soulless presentation and meaningless gameplay combined to make it a nearly worthless product in our eyes. Skunk Software evidently thought that adding dozens of additional hands to the game would somehow improve it greatly, and thus 153 Hand Video Poker was born. Unfortunately, 153 Hand Video Poker manages to somehow fail to clear the bar that was already set incredibly low by its predecessor; it fixes none of the problems and manages to add some new ones.
As you may have guessed from the title, this is just 6-Hand Video Poker with more hands. Gameplay is as simple and as mindless as it can get in a card game, and manages to almost completely eliminate player interaction from the experience. You're randomly given a hand of five cards from which you select the cards you'd like to hold. The cards that you didn't hold are then ranked against the other 153 opponents and you either gain or lose money based on the outcome.
Much like before, there's absolutely no consequence to player actions, giving little to no reason to keep coming back. Given the sheer volume of hands you're up against, you usually lose money on each round, but it's not like it matters anyway. If your credit count happens to drop below zero there's no game over screen of any sort, things just continue on as if nothing happened. With no reward or punishment for victory or defeat, the only real thing that changes from round to round is what number is displayed on your credit count, effectively making this a game of pushing one button and watching a lengthy loading screen.
Here is where 153 Hand Video Poker somehow manages to do something worse than its predecessor. Upon picking your cards and beginning the tallying process, you're treated to a roughly 45 second screen where you watch as each and every single hand is analyzed and compared to your own. As this is happening, a piano note is played each time you win a hand, in an effort to make winning "music to your ears". It might sound good as a concept, but it ultimately amounts to a 45 second loading screen where random piano notes will intermittently sound off. It's about as interesting as watching paint dry while disparate snippets of music play in the background.
Presentation hasn't been improved either. The static game screen is quite literally just rows and rows of cards in groups of five, which are extremely small and difficult to read when they all have to share the same screen space. A short recording of casino sounds and conversation (which has coincidentally been pulled from the first game) loops all too often; you'll likely find yourself muting it after just a few passes. To round it all off, the game text is difficult to read over the density of the cards and manages to look just as cheap and half-baked as the rest of the game.
Ultimately, 153 Hand Video Poker is one of the worst games we've played in recent times. There are almost no redeeming qualities to it aside from the fact that is technically playable. Mindless gameplay and careless presentation are once again the downfalls of Skunk's second attempt at a poker game. 99 cents isn't typically a lot to ask for, but it sure is with this release. We'd highly recommend that you pass this one over; instead, go out and buy yourself a nice stick of gum. It costs the same, and you'll get way more enjoyment out of it.