NOTE: I hope I'm not risking the ruining of an illusion for some of you, but I'm not, actually, playing each of these games on the day that I write about them. In some cases, like for most of the Fairchild and RCA Studio II games coming up, I played them at the very beginning of the summer. So long ago, in fact, that I had even forgotten that I had taken notes after we had played them. I found the notes today and realized that in some instances they won't offer me much help. Here's my notes for Fairchild VES Videocart-3 Blackjack.
Game: Video Blackjack
Doesn't suck. It's just blackjack. Yawn.
I thought it funny because my notes for Tic-Tac-Toe and Desert Fox are pretty much spot on what I pulled out of my memory for their entries. The above notes for Blackjack just didn't leave much on which to elaborate. To rectify this, I pulled it out, set up the VES and played it again. I'm wrong, my brief notes regarding this game were accurate in every respect. END NOTE
Well, now we have a Video Blackjack. A one or two player game in which one tries to out luck the dealer, played by the console.
According to the manual, the game uses a "truly random" 52 card deck consisting of 13 sets of 4 cards each from Ace to King. If the dealer detects 16 or less cards left in the deck between hands, it shuffles and you are asked to cut again. This version of Blackjack lets you hit, stay or double your bet. You can only double your bet before you've taken a hit and you only get one hit after you do.
I'm no card counter and I've never been very lucky at Blackjack. On a home system I find the game to be a bit pointless. Let's just say I find it difficult to enjoy gambling with pretend money. You start with 500 units of currency. After 10 minutes of playing this (my high point was 775 units of pretend money) I just started doubling my bet every hand to lose as much money as I could as quickly as possible. I suppose it could be interesting to try to "break the bank" which would involve "earning" more than 9,999 dollars, but my heart just wasn't in it and I would have had to learn how to count cards.
Graphically, there was nothing to complain about, there's not much to numbers in rectangles, and that's all Blackjack is. They managed to make it look like you're sitting at a green dealers table, somewhat. So, points for that. Here's a screenshot:
I seem to remember in Blackjack, at least the version in real life with cards and other people, I used to be able to win automatically if I stayed under 21 with five cards. I also seem to remember being able to split cards if they were doubles. For instance if I got two Aces I could double my bet and each Ace would get another card for it. Neither variation occurs in this version of Blackjack.
Overall, I give it a great big Neutral. I suppose it doesn't suck for a Blackjack sim, but it is still only Blackjack and it lacks real money.
Something interesting happens when you lose playing the one-player variation: After you run out of money, the dealer keeps dealing . . . but only to itself. With no one to bet, it pauses briefly after each hand and then continues dealing its little game of solitare Blackjack. Only when it notices that it is time to shuffle does it halt and wait for your input again to cut the cards. It is as if it suddenly noticed you weren't playing anymore and tries to invite you back. It was a kind of "creepy", like a plane continuing to fly on autopilot after everyone on board has frozen to death from sudden depressurization. Maybe that's just me.
Next entry, I'll rerunover 1976 and take us into 1977. We're starting to get into the good years, but there is one nasty little console to get past before the good times roll.