Coffee break gambling. (Villa Crespo Software's series of budget-priced games) (Buyers Guide)
by Scott A. May
As new game designs begin to stretch the limits of time and space--your time and hard drive space, that is--Villa Crespo heads in the opposite direction with its Coffee Break Series. These compact, budget-priced games deliver instantly accessible quality entertainment that's playable from floppy or hard disk.
Villa Crespo is best known for casino-style gambling simulations, so it's not surprising that the top picks in this burgeoning series are games of strategy and chance. Dr. Wong's Jacks & Video Poker is an abridged version of one of the company's biggest-selling titles. Where the original offers five variations of video poker, the condensed version contains only Jacks or Better, by far the most popular style.
Features include an adjustable bankroll, online tutorial and advice, hand analysis, and calculated returns. The only feature sorely missing from the original is simultaneous two-player tournament mode. Bells and whistles include somewhat garish--albeit realistic--low-resolution graphics and digitized sound effects.
Dr. Thorp's Mini Blackjack is the abbreviated version of another full-fledged simulation. Up to six players can compete against the dealer, utilizing such standard casino options as double down, split, surrender, push, and insurance. Advanced features include two levels of house rules, each fully adjustable and surprisingly detailed. In addition to online strategy tables and a basic blackjack tutorial, the game also teaches three methods of card counting.
Casino Craps is a delightful re-creation of the fast-paced dice game. High-resolution graphics and much-improved mouse controls embellish this dynamic one-player simulation. Extensive onscreen help thoroughly explains the nuances of odds and wagers, field bets, hard numbers, and center-table bets. Highlights include three levels of statistical analysis and player histories. Animated onscreen characters and digitized sound samples give this game a distinctive personality. Casino Craps is easily one of the best in the series.
Last, but far from least, is Amarillo Slim's 7 Card Stud, a condensed version of Villa Crespo's outstanding poker simulation. Better than a heated match in a smoke-filled back room, the game pits one player against 2-7 computer opponents. Online help screens and tutorial advice guide greenhorns through the rules and strategies of building a winning hand. Choose from the 15 available players, each with a digitized voice and unique style of play, who are divided among the game's three skill levels. You can also customize the house rules--maximum bets, raise limits, blind bets, and so on--to make every session unique. More than any game in the series, this one beckons players to seek out the full-blown version, Dealer's Choice, featuring 28 poker variations.
Short and sweet, the Coffee Break Series from Villa Crespo proves that bigger isn't necessarily better.