Checking Out Kairosoft's Other Android Game

by Jeff Marchiafava on Aug 23, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Kairosoft is known for making quirky and addictive management sims like Game Dev Story, but a recent and free offering on Google Play eschews its well-established formula for a surprisingly fun gambling experience.

The game is called Card Change, but don't let the stupidly generic title fool you. Also, don't be scared away by the fact that most of the game's text is in Japanese. Card Change's gameplay revolves around a standard deck of cards, and once you figure out the rules and apply some trial and error to the menus, you'll be set.

The rules of Card Change are a cross between crazy eights and poker. After betting between one and 30 coins, you're dealt five cards, and you must play them on a single discard pile. You can play any cards of the same suit on top of one another, and switch between suits with cards of the same face value. Your goal is to discard as many cards as possible, earning payouts based on how far into the deck you get (you can see a portion of the pay scale in the upper right corner of the screenshot below). You have to play at least 17 cards to get your initial wager back, and 23 to start making money, but the pay increases exponentially from there. If at any time the five cards make a poker hand (starting with a straight and working up to a royal flush), you instantly receive a payout corresponding to the left-hand chart.

You're also given three, one-time use power-ups to help you through the deck. The woman shows you the next card you'll be dealt, the monkey changes any card that isn't a match with your last play, and the Kairosoft robot makes the next card a wild card. The table to the right of your power-ups shows what cards are left in the deck, which becomes instrumental later in the game.

When you finally lose, any money you've earned can be gambled again in one of three double or nothing modes (you can also bet half of your winnings with an option called "half double." I realize that makes no sense). The option entitled High & Low (you can recognize it by the ampersand) is your best bet. It plays out a bit like the old game show Card Sharks; a card is flipped up and then the player has to guess if the next one will be higher or lower. Get it right twice and you'll double your money and earn the option to go again, this time attempting to guess three cards in a row.

The average game takes less than a minute, which leads to countless "one more game" retries. Getting through the entire deck feels like a major accomplishment, and reshuffles the deck for another go (though you'll likely be out of power-ups, leading to a much faster game over). Like Kairosoft's other offerings, Card Change is a pleasantly traditional approach to game design; there are no microtransactions, no in-app purchases, and no unnecessary bottlenecks built into the gameplay. Even the odds are in your favor; you start with 50 coins, and I've slowly ground my way up to 65,000. The only way Kairosoft makes money off of this free offering is an innocuous banner ad at the bottom of the game screen, and the gameplay experience is better off for it.

If you're willing fumble your way through the Japanese menus for a bit, Card Change offers an addictive gambling card game that's more fun than video poker, and contains the same cutesy characters, music, and sound effects you'd expect from the premiere Japanese mobile developer. So why not try it out?