There’s no doubt in my mind that UNO was one of the surprise hits of the Xbox Live Arcade. When it released, not even Microsoft could predict that thousands of gamers would sit down to play a simple card game accompanied by some soothing music. UNO fans rejoiced in June 2008 when a sequel to the popular title was revealed at the E3 Expo in the form of UNO Rush.
The concept behind UNO was to be the first person to successfully call “UNO” and be the first person to discard of all their cards on the discard pile. Taking it in turns, cards of the same colour or number to the one on the discard pile would be placed on top. Alternatively, players can place an “action” card which changes the colour of the pile. Not being able to play, results in the player obtaining a card from the deck.
UNO Rush follows the same conception with a few changes. There are two obvious differences which are that players can now see each other’s cards and more than one card can be played at a time. This can only be done if the following card in the player’s hand is the same colour or number. In doing so, this allows players to think more strategically though the new timed system means it has to be done quickly. There’s also a new “action” card which reshuffles the player’s deck. This can prove to be a sneaky tactic if the opponent happened to line them all up perfectly and very annoying if you are on the opposing end of one. Other than them, the familiar UNO style shines through with matching designs and layouts, as well as game modes.
The game modes in UNO Rush are identical to those seen in the predecessor with Standard, Partner and House Rules game modes returning. For those of you who haven’t experienced them, Standard game mode requires players to rid of all their cards, with points awarded for doing so. The Partner game mode has the same basis though diagonal players share the points. Last but not least is House Rules which allows players to choose and decide on their own rules for the game, being able to change the likes of total points and even the game’s speed.
UNO Rush introduces a brand new game mode called Elimination, which is a more unique game mode. Within Elimination, players receive a stroke for not being able to place a card. Three strikes and the player is withdrawn from the game and the last player standing victors. This is a great game mode which I thoroughly enjoyed.
All these game modes can be played in multiplayer both online and, something new to the series, offline. As part of the fun behind UNO Rush is being able to change the colour of the discard pile to prevent your opponent from placing a card, up to four players can play on the same console locally. This is the only change to the multiplayer with player matches and ranked matches also on the agenda, though a welcome change none-the-less.
Another welcome change is the inclusion of avatars, which appear besides the player’s deck, replacing Gamer Pictures. The interaction with the right thumbstick improves the game’s fun factor as your avatar can look in the direction of an opponent. Alternatively, the Xbox Live Vision Camera can be put to good use if you fancy greeting your opponents with a nice hello or showing off your victory dance when you thrash the opposition.
The game also supports the use of the Big Button controller which came with Scene It? Owning them myself, I decided to give it a try and was disappointed by how difficult it is to navigate through the card pile with them. It’s comforting to know that the option is there but it was an unnecessary option and one I wouldn’t recommend.
Graphically, UNO Rush matches the same graphics and details achieved by UNO, though the familiar soundtrack has been replaced by something not as catchy coincidentally letting the title down on the audio front. However, this is made up via some returning sound effects and audio pleasantness.
Overall, UNO Rush is a worthy sequel to UNO. Despite some of the changes taking a bit of time to get used to, give the title a chance and you’ll fall in love, just like you did before. Don’t be put off by the 800 Microsoft Point price tag; this is another Arcade classic no-one should miss out on.
David Wriglesworth is a Northern lad with a passion for gaming, who graduated from the University of Lincoln with a BA (Hons) Journalism degree. If you can drag him away from the consoles, you can probably find him Tweeting or watching Coronation Street.