Review: Freeverse Software Classic Cribbage

Classic Cribbage is quite fun despite its lack of 3D buzzwords (October 10th, 2002)

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Freeverse Software

Price: $19.95

The Good

  • Addictive Gameplay, Low System Requirements, Excellent Multiplayer Support, Jen and her roaring 20s fashion Sense

The Bad

  • I Never Win

I've slain dragons, solved riddles concocted by psychopathic lunatics, led armies into battle against undead minions and even had a few run-ins with the Nazi S.S. No, I don't mean literally, I'm talking about Mac games. Yet, all of the previous are still what we like to call "high stress activities". I can't even begin to tell how many times I've considered tossing my Cinema Display across the room after being eviscerated for the 90th time by a group of Night Elves on the WarCraft III battlefield. Sometimes, I want a game that will provide exhilaration without stroke-inducing frustration.

Enter Freeverse Software, veteran publisher of stylish card games for the Mac OS and their delightful version of one of my favorite card games, Classic Cribbage. Classic Cribbage is a quaint little game that tests a player's wit, rather than reflexes. For those with a short attention span, who enjoy instant gratification: download and register Classic Cribbage post haste! However, those who need more details should read on for the entire scoop on this smashing card game.

Gameplay: Pegging All Night Long!
Classic Cribbage is a card game for 2 to 4 players (teams of 2) with a pinch of board game mixed in for good measure. The game begins as each player is dealt 6 cards (5 if there are 3 or 4 players). Players then keep 4 cards and place 2 card (1 if there are 3 or 4 players) in the Crib. How could we have a game called "cribbage" without a "Crib"? Now, this is where things get interesting. The Crib acts as a spare hand that players control in turn throughout the game.

Once all cards are dealt and the Crib is filled, a round called "The Play" begins. At the start of The Play, a card named the Starter is revealed; the Starter acts as a bonus card for each player that is used during a round called "The Show". We'll discuss The Show in a moment, worry not. The goal of cribbage is to be the first player or team to score enough points to move their peg to the end of the cribbage board; this is called "pegging out". During The Play, participants score points by playing their cards in a clockwise fashion, adding the card values together until they total 31 or lower. For example, if Kenny plays a 10 and Annie plays a 5 that totals 15. For bringing the total to 15, Annie scores 2 points (or pegs 2). Points are also awarded for bringing the total to 31. If three of the same card are played in a row, the player to bust out that third card completes what is called a "Pair Royal" and thus, pegs 6. Once it's impossible to play another card without going over 31, the round is reset to 0 and play continues. After all cards are revealed, The Show begins.

The Show is the round in which most of the pegging is done. During this round, it is the goal of the player for their cards to total 15 in as many combinations as possible. For instance, if Lain has a hand consisting of a King, a Queen, a 5, a 5 and a Starter card showing 5, she'll peg an astounding 20. That, my friends, is a NICE hand of cribbage! It's also a hand that I'll probably never see, as I'm hated by the various deities that govern the realm of cribbage.

Lastly, we have The Crib. In a nutshell, the Crib consists of each player's discarded cards from before The Play. The player in possession of the Crib pegs the value of its cards, just as it is done during The Show. The first person to peg 121 wins the game and gets to brag of their mad cribbage skillz to various friends and family. Now, I know that the previous may seem as confusing as The Sound and the Fury, but after a few rounds, Classic Cribbage becomes an addiction.

Classic Cribbage may be played in either single-player or multiplayer mode via Freeverse's player matching service, GameSmith. In single-player mode, players match wits against various cribbage Bots. Playing against Bots is the perfect way for one to become familiar with the delicate nuances of cribbage. There are three Bots in Classic Cribbage; Dumb Bot, Good Bot and God Bot. As the names imply, God Bot is a nearly unstoppable cribbage machine, while Dumb Bot is about as smart as Ralph Wiggum. However, Good Bot presents the most balanced challenge.

Of course, the real value of Classic Cribbage doesn't lie in playing against Bots, but rather it's multiplayer action that makes the game worthwhile. Players can enjoy Classic Cribbage via LAN or Freeverse's own online game service, GameSmith. On GameSmith, players from literally all over the world meet to chat it up and play cribbage or ony of Freeverse's other card games. GameSmith also keeps track of player win/loss records and player rankings. For instance, my record is 4-14 and I'm ranked 414. As stated earlier, the cribbage deities are all out to get me. Also, 5 of those losses came from a GameSmith regular named LS; she clearly cheats like a mad woman. All in all, multiplayer Classic Cribbage is top notch.

Graphics: Flappers are Happenin' Ladies
The folks at Freeverse are masters of the user-interface and Classic Cribbage is stunning proof. The game uses a very clean point and click interface that is quite easy to use. Classic Cribbage also features a roaring 20s look, complete with Jen the Freeverse spokes chick dressed as a flapper. Who needs dynamic lighting or volumetric fog when Jen in a flapper outfit is readily available? Not me!

Sound: Alanis and a Pair Royal; how sweet is that?
Ok folks, this is a card game; the audio doesn't need to be in 5.1 Dolby Digital and knock a fellow across the room. That said, Classic Cribbage sports some spiffy aural delights. For example, character sounds are well voiced and often times witty & amusing. I love it when Jen proclaims, "Ooh, Pair Royal!" Classic Cribbage also features built-in mp3 support, this allows for the creation of custom music playlists. Thus, one can set the perfect mood for an evening of pegging.

Conclusion: Get Ready to Peg Out
Bottom line, with its addictive gameplay, support for Mac OS 8.6 through 10.2, low hardware demands, outstanding multiplayer support and insanely low registration fee of $19.95, Classic Cribbage is a steal. Anyone who enjoys cards and good conversation should download and register Classic Cribbage right away!

Now, I leave with a bit of trivia. In this review, I've alluded to a work of literature, a musician and an anime character. The first person to identify each, wins their very own copy of Classic Cribbage. Please send all entries to: mike@macnn.com.

by Michael Phillips


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