I’m not quite sure why game titles seem to be getting longer the older I’m getting. Today’s review – and quite a mouthful it is, too – is for Super Blackjack Battle 2 Turbo Edition – The Card Warriors. For the purposes of speed and my own sanity, I’ll be referring to Stage Clear Studios’ Street Fighter 2/Blackjack mashup as SBJB2.
I have some really mixed feelings about this game. On one hand I love anything card based. I don’t care what it is, from a hundred rounds of Poker to a really in-depth CCG give me a handful of little rectangular lumps of cardboard with pretty pictures on them and I’m a very happy man. As this is essentially just Blackjack wearing a different shirt and large colorful hat I still really like the essence of the game. My issue comes with the fact that although it’s been re-skinned, given a bit of story and made to look nostalgic and pretty (I’ll explain how in a minute), this is still really all it is: basic blackjack.
I think that the majority of gamers will have either seen or at least know of the iconic introduction to Super Street Fighter 2. You know the one with Ryu appearing from the shadows preparing a fireball? Well this is essentially what you get with the opening to SBJB2, just switch out Ryu with a dude and a deck of cards. The whole game follows this feel. If Street Fighter 2 wasn’t a beat-em-up and was a Blackjack tournament then this, I guess, is what you’d get.
You choose from a pool of ten characters hailing from different places across the planet and then battle off in a game of Blackjack. I think the majority of the population knows the rules but for those of you that don’t you bet against the dealer and have to beat their hand. You do this by either sticking and keeping what you have or twisting and getting another card until you stop or go bust by drawing over 21. If you happen to get dealt 21 on your opening hand you’ve drawn Blackjack and win regardless of what the dealer’s hand is. There is a round of betting before each hand and so on and so forth.
Take that and turn your funds into life. You play against the dealer with your opponent over ten rounds and the one with the most life at the end of that period wins. If you run out of life before the ten rounds are up it’s an instant loss. In true Street Fighter fashion, you go to different places around the world and beat all of the other tournament entrants, eventually facing off against two boss characters to take the title.
Also in Street Fighter fashion there is a bit of dialogue between you and your opponent depending on a win or a loss and the chance to continue if you’re beaten. Continues are unlimited by the way, there is no real game over to speak of, you just keep going until you eventually win. When you complete the game your character gets a bit of an ending and … well … that’s pretty much it. There is something of a background involving the mafia to all of this but sadly the initial reason for your character being in the tournament doesn’t add anything to the game.
SBJB2 looks nice. It has that early 90s, 16-bit retro feel and mimics the game it’s obviously trying follow very well without actually stealing anything. The problem is that’s all it does. The characters are pretty forgettable and there isn’t really any difference between them bar the way they physically look and the bit of plot associated with them. I completed the game with an Australian surfer called Luke and a German general type called Dieter and I might as well have been playing with the same character both times. The bosses don’t offer any more of a challenge either, they just feel like two additional characters.
There are two online vs modes, one of which is unranked and then World Championship which is ranked play. From the co-op side of the game the two boss characters from the story can be unlocked and played with. Normally secret unlockable characters would be a really cool addition to your playing roster. In this case because they’re all a bit lackluster I’m honestly not sure if this adds anything to the experience at all. I completely understand that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but with this in mind, why go to the bother of fleshing the game out into something that looks like it should be more than just Blackjack?
When I started playing this title I was quite excited to see what other mechanics had been added to the game. I figured that they’d have taken the core premise of Blackjack and combined it with other techniques to offer a different, possibly more brawly, experience. Combining a fighting game with a card game seems like a really good idea and something that a lot could be done with. What you end up with is a game that I’m not 100% sure knows what it’s trying to be. If that happens to be the basic card game with a new skin then fine, mission accomplished. I think this was possibly meant to be something more than that though and with this in mind SBJB2 falls short.
To put it simply, if you like Blackjack and you aren’t really looking for anything more than that, this game is worth a whirl. In it’s truest essence, it adheres to the rules and form of the card game; ss far as this goes, it’s a good game and there’s nothing wrong with it. If like me, you’re looking for something more than that, I think you’ll probably be disappointed. All in all, it looks nice, plays well and definitely deserves points for trying, but that’s probably about as far as I’m willing to go.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Not quite punching above its weight
Super Blackjack Battle 2 Turbo Edition - 5/10
This deserves praise in terms of it being an interesting change of theme for a well known game. In trying to be anything more than this I'm really not sure it's hitting the mark.