“…lack[s] the energy and action of the original card game”
2017, Nintendo Switch
Uno, the colour and number matching card game, has been a mainstay of many households since it’s popularization in the late 1970’s, and for good reason—its fast-paced play with easy to understand rules is satisfying, and because of the short rounds everyone is given a chance to win every few minutes.
Ubisoft’s version for the Switch, matches the vibrant colours of the card game, and is also true to almost every aspect of the gameplay. The presentation is polished without being overbearing and the smooth jazz soundtrack doesn’t offend or distract. In terms of options, the more advanced rule sets are available—indeed Ubisoft’s rendition will likely introduce some enjoyable variations of the rules to even life-long players of the card game.
However, one option the game does not allow, either played locally or online, is the ability for just two players to play. Off-line two local players must play as a team against two automated opponents (bots). While this can still be enjoyable, not being able to directly compete against a local opponent removes some of the fun. Should you have four local players available, they will have to take turns, as local play is still limited to two players at a time.
On-line you are also limited to four players at a time, and as players come and go (without penalty) they are replaced with bots. More than once I started a game online with at least two human opponents and was ultimately stranded playing against three bots (something that you do offline without the internet connection). Even so, playing online against human opponents is compelling and time drifts away without notice. As you play you’ll start to develop rivalries and read into the motives of your silent opponents (no voice chat, or communication of any kind is available).
Unfortunately the second biggest disappointment for Uno on Switch is that it is rare to find an online opponent to play. Shortly after downloading the full version of the game I was able to play several matches for a couple of hours, but since that time, over a two week period I have logged in on all days of the week at various times and not found an online opponent. While I am not in the game business, it seems that had Ubisoft observed the free-to-play success of Tetris 99, the compelling nature of Uno would attract a large following that would subsidize the games with the purchase of theme packs.
Ubisoft does provide a few Ubisoft-themed decks such as Just Dance, Rabbids and Rayman. While these are energetic to the point of annoying, they are thoughtfully put together and bring some variation separate from the traditional Uno game.
Single player mode is still fun, though nowhere near as much fun as when you do manage to find another player online. Sadly, there is no experience points gathered while playing online, or record keeping for that matter, so the experience is to be enjoyed solely in the moment with no sense of progression.
While well made, the lack of local play options and of an online community, renders the experience without the energy and action of the original card game. Hopefully Ubisoft will re-visit the game in future to bring life to what is a very sound foundation.