Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4
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Take the classic card game of Poker and combine it with Match Three mechanics, and you almost get Connect Poker. The game provides a simple yet compelling mixture of these popular genres, even though it's a little on the pricey side.
Twists on the game of Poker are nothing new, with recent success coming from titles such as Poker Pals. Titles like that do a great job of introducing the elements of Poker without the traditional structure. Connect Poker takes such ideas and runs with them.
Instead of lining up cards, a random selection of cards appear on the screen, lined up just like jewels or shapes would look in a game of Bejeweled. Players must then match cards together to clear them, thus gaining points. The simplest combination is to match a set of pairs, with the option of gathering two pairs also available. Any poker hand can be used such as a straight or flush, providing the cards are connected. While there's a basic tutorial which explains things early on, the addition of a move helper such as certain cards lighting up after being stuck for a while would have really helped Poker novices. It can also be fiddly to line up diagonal cards in a hurry.
Depending on the mode chosen, power ups can appear which clear a wider area or add score multipliers to proceedings. The core structure is the same but the option of Classic, Arcade and Endless modes ensure that subtle changes are enjoyed. I found myself especially hooked on the Endless mode, trying to beat previous high scores.
Adding a slight freemium element to Connect Poker comes the addition of chips. These chips can be used to buy bonuses such as score multipliers, shuffle moves or wild cards. Fortunately, the chips can be earned through play as well, otherwise it'd feel a little greedy demanding in-app purchases to go alongside the already pricey $2.99 asking fee.
That's mostly where Connect Poker falters. It's quite expensive for what it offers. It's a fun game and one that will stick around on my iPhone for a while to come, but it is expensive, given what other titles can be purchased for $0.99, and its reliance on understanding the game of Poker beforehand.