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UNO Review Rewind

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On 12/15/2011 at 12:00 PM by Esteban Cuevas

The classic card game manages to be one of the most enjoyable titles on Xbox Live Arcade.

It’s a great game for family and those who don’t normally play video games. Everyone will find great enjoyment in the title’s simple gameplay and watercooler like appeal.

At the launch of the Xbox 360, the new Xbox Live Arcade service was introduced but there wasn’t a lot to be excited about. Oh sure, ports of Smash TV, Bejeweled 2, and Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved is fine but there was nothing of real substance in the XBLA launch lineup. Fast forward to May of 2006 and a digital version of the card game UNO is released. In less than a year’s time, it becomes the first XBLA title to surpass one million downloads. How is it that a title like this has become so successful? UNO succeeds because of the simplicity of the rules and the simple controls.

For those who don’t know, UNO rules are as follows: every player is dealt seven cards and the goal is to lose all your cards. You do so by putting down one card per turn that matches either the color or the number of the card currently in play. If you don’t have a matching card, you have to draw from the pile of remaining cards. Skip cards make the next player lose a turn, Reverse cards reverse the turn order, Draw cards make players take a certain amount of cards from the pile, and Wild cards allow players to change the color currently in play.

Despite its simplicity or rather because of it, it’s real easy to just jump into a quick game of UNO without even thinking about it. It’s engaging but not engrossing so you can enjoy a game of UNO and then automatically do something else without having to psych yourself out of the mindset you were in. Been playing another title for four hours and need a break? Load this up. Want something to do while you chat with your friend on Xbox Live? Play some rounds of UNO with them. Want to cool down while you prepare another game? Play a few games of this.

Having said that, by no means is this a title you’ll keep putting hours and hours into on its own. You will over time. Achievements will be gained rather easily because they're mostly just a matter of time. However, UNO is not a deep game and will not keep you entertained on its own. It really is the perfect cool down title but not much more.

Apart from the standard UNO rules, Partner UNO is also available. This mode teams you up with another computer player and play against a two player computer controlled team. It’s probably not the mode you’ll play most often but it’s a nice variation to the original game. In House Rules UNO, the rules can also be customized if you don’t want to play a score based game or if you want to change other rules from the standard UNO mode, Partner UNO mode, or a third choice called Elimination UNO, in which players are eliminated when they don’t have any more playable cards.

Online play is stable and works well, not that this is a resource heavy title. You can choose from player and ranked matches depending on if you want to play casually or for rank on the leaderboards. The title also features Xbox Live Camera support so you can see who you play against. Multiplayer as mentioned above is a lot of fun but it’s online only. No local multiplayer here. It’s understandable as there’s nothing really preventing those who are in the same room as you from looking at your cards but it would’ve been nice for some option to be available.

It helps that the presentation is great. Everything is clean and inviting and it all looks great in HD. Everything is easy to see and still manages to be colorful. Sound on the other hand is pretty stock and can become pretty monotonous and boring. I recommend plugging in an iPod or inserting a CD and listening to that using the Xbox 360’s music player while playing and turning the sound down in the options. Controls are simple too as you’ll never have to use more than three button options at once: one to select cards, one to call UNO, and one to challenge draw fours.

It’s easier to play a quick game of UNO than the actual card game, making this very appealing. It does have its flaws, such as the boring music and the lack of local multiplayer but everyone will find great enjoyment in the simple gameplay and watercooler like appeal. It’s a great game for family and those who don’t normally play video games and it’s still a lot of fun for those who do play video games often. Although there are better titles than this on the Xbox Live Arcade, it’s still one of the best casual games available for the service all these years later.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.




03/05/2012 at 02:44 PM

How cool, I didn't even know they had a digital version of the game on XBL, and I've had the service forever already. I love playing UNO, it's definitely fun and easy to pick up. My cousins and I like to play drinking UNO. I can't remember what the stipulations are (can't imagine why) and what led to a person taking shots, but we'd all be drunk after an hour of UNO and it was a mess lol. Really fun game, easy to pick up, easy enough to keep track of when your drunk, and it's incredibly addicting when you have a nice group to play with. I don't like most card games, I don't like poker, and I don't take card games seriously, so a simple game like UNO is the perfect card game to get into.

Our Take

Esteban Cuevas Staff Alumnus

03/05/2012 at 03:13 PM

It really is fun. With UNO on XBLA, you and your cousins get play drinking UNO online and get smashed in your own individual living rooms!

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