Sometimes I think that game developers are starting to run out of new and fresh ideas, but then I see titles like Super Blackjack Battle II Turbo Edition that blends together the famed card game with the aesthetic of Street Fighter II (yeah, seriously) and I realise that there’s hope out there yet. I mean, sure, it sounds like a bloody bizarre concoction, but there’s an undeniable charm and novelty to the experience that really makes it stand out.
That doesn’t mean it necessarily translates to a good game though, so the question remains: is Super Blackjack Battle II Turbo Edition worth a gamble, or are you going to go bust by purchasing it?
Super Blackjack Battle II Turbo Edition allows you to play as one of the world’s best Blackjack players, with twelves characters available in total from across the globe. The ultimate goal? To win a tournament set by a shady casino owner in Vegas whose intentions might not necessarily be pure.
Each character has their own ten-staged campaign to play out that sees you travelling across the world, with individual stories and endings in place for them all. You don’t typically associate card games with an engaging narrative, but each character’s story is surprisingly neat and there’s certainly charm to be found by playing through them all. Whether the gameplay offers enough to want you to see each tale through to its conclusion is another thing though…
Gameplay-wise, Super Blackjack Battle II Turbo Edition sees you playing Blackjack (duh) against your opponents, with both players facing off against the dealer to get their hand of cards as close to 21 as possible. We all know the rules of the game so I won’t go into depth with them here – just know that each match plays out across ten rounds, with the winner being the player who has the most money at the end.
As expected with Blackjack, there’s a lot of luck involved since you’re essentially drawing cards at random. However, the fact that both players are competing against the dealer also introduces a risk-versus-reward element to the game. You can decide if you want to take risks to get as close to 21 as possible, or rather leave it to your opponent – they lose cash if they go bust after all, so as long as you keep yours you’ll be fine. It’s a neat formula and the idea itself can work quite well, though unfortunately some sketchy opponent AI completely holds the game back.
Card games don’t always make the transition to a video game format successfully thanks to the need of a human thought process, and unfortunately it’s the same case here. Your AI opponents in Super Blackjack Battle II Turbo Edition aren’t particularly smart when it comes to analysing risks, knowing when to play it safe or when to take a hit, and it left me easily coasting to victory on so many occasions. Seriously, I haven’t lost a match playing the game, whilst I also lost count of the amount of times my opponent did something completely stupid. Not only does it take away the sense of realism from the experience but it also makes it a whole lot less fun to play.
Add to all that the fact that there’s not much to do outside of the main campaign and it leaves Super Blackjack Battle II Turbo Edition falling a bit flat. It could do with some customisation options for matches to change them up or even additional difficulties, but instead everything is left feeling exactly the same throughout.
At least there’s a local multiplayer mode on offer, with up to four players able to battle it out in intense Blackjack action (yes, it can be intense). This actually shows off the better side of the game since you can’t easily exploit your way to victory, though the fact that you could just as easily grab a pack of cards and play together in real-life does dampen the whole thing a little. Online play would’ve been a nice alternative, but that’s not present here. The one thing it does have going for it though is the visual presentation, which certainly adds a unique twist on the traditional card-dealing formula.
Aesthetically, Super Blackjack Battle II Turbo Edition looks great – I mentioned that the game is influenced by Street Fighter II and it’s in the visuals where that’s most apparent, whether it be with the environments, the character designs, or the illustrations that join them. Even things like each character’s victory taunts or the character select screen (which replicates Street Fighter II’s with its map of the world) look like they could’ve come straight out of Capcom’s famed fighting series, and it really makes for a lot of fun. It’s just a shame that the gameplay doesn’t match the charm of the presentation.
Developer: Stage Clear Studios
Publisher: Headup Games
Format(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC