Review: Governor of Poker

A gubernatorial hand of cards.

By Jake Shapiro. Posted 04/11/2014 09:00 1 Comment     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Poker is fun! Dutch accent voiceovers for Wild West card dealers!
Poison Mushroom for...
No multiplayer of any kind; There are cheaper, better options elsewhere.

Much like my recent review of Pure Chess, it’s hard to judge Governor of Poker. It’s another 3DS eShop adaptation of a real-life game, with plenty of free online alternatives to choose from. And unlike chess, real poker is a portable game, so Governor of Poker doesn’t even have the advantage of convenience that Pure Chess has over its real-life counterpart. This is the first 3DS foray by Amsterdam studio Youdagames, known best for casual computer and mobile gaming.

The only way to judge the Wild West-themed Governor of Poker is by looking at what sets it apart from real-life poker: the single-player experience. You can’t play real-life poker alone, but Governor of Poker is all about solitary poker. There are two main game modes: Quick Poker, which as its name implies, gets you straight into a virtual poker game. You can choose between a four- and eight-player table, and there are three difficulty settings.

The other main mode is a sort of campaign mode, in which you challenge various poker houses in towns across Texas to build your fortune and conquer the whole state… to become governor, I guess. You can’t customize your character at all, but in a progressive move, you can choose whether you’re a man or a woman! Yay! Like the Quick Poker mode, the campaign mode also features three difficulty settings. Governor of Poker is tough, as even the “Easy” setting is fairly challenging unless you’re an experienced poker player.

Surprisingly, the campaign mode features an RPG-style overworld with pleasingly simple graphics. It’s little more than a coat of paint over a basic progression ladder, and there’s nothing to do in the overworld aside from walk around town challenging poker houses and talking to random NPCs who give you poker tips. It’s a welcome unexpected addition to flesh out the Governor of Poker experience, though. You build up “reputation” by winning games, and then you can move on to the next city to conquer. Unfortunately, the overworld is so superfluous that Youdagames hasn’t even added Circle Pad support for the overworld– you’re forced to use the D-pad to move around. An inconsequential gripe, but having an entirely dead button on your 3DS is a bummer. These sequences also seem to be incredibly taxing on the game engine, as there are lengthy loading screens throughout the experience.

Once you’re into the poker games themselves, though, everything runs smoothly. It’s standard “casual poker video game” fare, with clear numbers and indicators giving you all the information you need. Poker translates perfectly to the pick-up-and-play style of portable gaming. Playing against computer players, there’s no time limit on anything, so you can stop and start whenever you want. If you’re an inexperienced poker player, there’s no tutorial, but poker is a simple enough game that it only takes a few rounds to begin to understand what’s going on. There are basic buttons on the touch screen for each action, and if you fold, you can choose whether you want to watch the rest of the round play out, or you can just skip straight to the next hand. The AI of your computer opponents is varied, and they can “get steamed” or “on tilt,” when the likelihood of making stupid moves is increased.

As far as sound design goes, we get stereotypical Wild West saloon sounds in the background of games, and the card dealer is voiced with some basic lines of dialogue. Although Governor of Poker is meant to be set in the Wild West, the dealer is clearly voiced by a Dutch guy at Youdagames. That’s not a knock, though– it’s great! It’s like European pop songs, where the lyrics are in English and they’re grammatically correct, but you can tell the person who wrote them doesn’t speak English as their first language. Charming! The Dutch-accented Wild West card dealer is a major selling point for Governor of Poker.

Beyond the single-player experience, though, there’s nothing. No local or online multiplayer to speak of. Governor of Poker is a bare-bones affair outside the core single-player gameplay, with virtually nothing in the way of bells or whistles. In the crowded virtual poker marketplace, this makes the $4.99 Governor of Poker a non-contender. There are countless cheaper, better virtual poker games available on computers and mobile devices, including other iterations of Governor of Poker, and the total lack of multiplayer makes this eShop title incredibly hard to recommend in the face of all these other options. While it’s fun for casual players, hardcore poker fans will definitely want to look elsewhere for a deeper experience. Governor of Poker on 3DS is a decent game of single-player poker, and if it were the only portable poker option on the market, it would be a must-buy. But it isn’t, so it’s not.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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