Poker Squares by KnightOwlen is a card game with an interesting mechanic: players must build the best poker hands on a 5 by 5 grid, using 25 randomly drawn cards. Hands can be achieved either vertically or horizontally. Once the grid is full, each grid line is assessed and the value of each line is determined by the type of poker hand that has been made.
This concept has been popular for a long time, though Poker Squares seems to be one of the few GameMaker versions of it. But is Poker Squares worth playing?
Upon starting the game in windowed mode, the player is assaulted by the menu above. The cards around the edges are animated but that’s not enough to distract from the awful fonts and colors (notably the gradient background). It’s also worth noting that the developer has chosen to use different colors for each suit of cards. This is intended to make it easier to differentiate between each suit, though it does come at the expense of visual appeal.
The “INFO” option on the menu launches a default game information panel. Like most uses of this panel in GameMaker games, it is functional rather than aesthetic.
Returning to the menu and beginning a new game forces Poker Squares into full screen mode. There is no obvious option to exit full screen mode, which may annoy some players.
As is to be expected by this point, the game’s interface is hardly appealing. It features clashing font types and a lot of bright green. There are actually multiple board types available, each of which includes its own animated effects and contrasting color schemes, but unfortunately these variants hardly improve on the default “coffee table” style.
New cards are designated from the left side of the screen, one at a time. Choosing where to place each new card is simple, but again, the visual effects used here are very distracting. There comes a point where a lack of quality visuals not only limits the appeal of a game, but actually detracts from it.
The saving grace of Poker Squares is its core mechanic. For those familiar with poker hands order it is actually enjoyable trying to set up the best hands across multiple lines. The gameplay could be described as a combination of poker and solitaire. The implementation of the gameplay mechanic is solid, though the addition of a time limit would add further to the challenge.
After each game there is an option to rearrange the board to perfect your score. This feels unnecessary, however at least changes made do not alter your final score (which is displayed on a localized leaderboard).
Poker Squares isn’t a bad game. It’s just unfortunate that the unrefined and amateurish graphic design stop it from being a great game.
Play Poker Squares on PC »