Developer: Magmic
Price: FREE
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Getting to 21 can be deceptively tough when using a deck of playing cards, but it still happens, and when it does happen it can often yield cash prizes. At least in gambling situations. This is probably why a lot of people like Blackjack. That and the rules are much quicker to learn than Poker and it requires less in the way of mind games. Now Magmic has gifted us with a social-driven iOS game or Twenty-One: Blackjack King. It’s just a shame that these “social elements” tend to get in the way of actually enjoying the game.

The basic elements of Blackjack King are just like every other game of Blackjack ever. The dealer deals cards, players try to get as close to 21 without going over as they can, the player/dealer with the highest lower-than-22 number wins the pot. Hitting, doubling, splitting, and betting are present and accounted for as well. Where it differs a bit from the formula is how it ties into the whole free-to-play thing. Each day players log in they’re entered into a drawing for one million dollars worth of poker chips. Even if they don’t win they still get a grand, but if that money disappears they’ll have to wait until the next day for another drawing or shell out real money for more chips.

It’s easy enough to get started in Blackjack King as once players log in through either email or Facebook they can immediately start up a game. The various buttons for various actions are nice and prominent so there’s no confusion, and every game has a clearly defined (and displayed) minimum and maximum bet. On top of simply trying to win in order to earn more chips and extend playtime, every hand (win or lose) earns experience towards individual levels. Some bonus challenges – ranging from winning both hands when doubling to simply getting the dealer to bust – for extra earnings don’t hurt, either.

An unfortunate aspect to Blackjack King is that it’s fairly straightforward (read: simple). It’s rather to-the-point and bare bones, and most likely won’t wow veteran players. A different and much more irritating list of aspects are the required Internet connection, the need to log in (Facebook/email) every time the app starts up, and the fact that absolutely none of this seems necessary. Sure I can brag to my Facebook friends about achievements and (eventually, once it’s updated) compare scores, but there’s no multiplayer whatsoever and no real reason that I can see aside from the lottery to require players to be online.

Blackjack King is by no means a bad iteration of the classic game, but it’s also not all that spectacular. It’s also a shame that it can’t be played without an Internet connection. Still, it’s decent for what it is.


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