It’s always good to see new releases for the PS Vita, and even more so when they are physical games. Also available for the PC and PS3, this brings the long running franchise by Winning Moves to the handheld. If I mention card games, most would immediately think about poker, blackjack or similar games that could be found at real money online casinos. However, I’m actually looking at Top Trumps Turbo, based on the 40 year old statistics based card game that I’ve been an avid collector of since my childhood…
What Is Top Trumps?
For those of you who have never encountered the game before, Top Trumps is a card game that uses a series of themed sets. Each is based or real or fictional people, series, characters, objects, movies and so on. Each card is unique and presents something connected to that set and has several statistics for that card. For example, in a Star Wars set you would have 30 (the typical deck size) characters from a specific movie. Each would then have different statistics – size, strength, Force ability and so on. Decks are shuffled at the start of each game and then shared between players.
One player then chooses what they think is their strongest stat from the top card in their hand and read it out. The other player checks the same on their top card and the player with the highest value wins both cards, putting them to the bottom of their deck. The game continues until one player holds all the cards. It sounds simple but it’s great fun and has that “one more go” appeal that has endured for four decades.
Top Trumps Turbo takes the game in a new direction. Based on the quick-fire family board game variant, it still uses the packs of cards but in a new way. Instead of the straightforward gameplay, this is now replaced with a series of mini games. These are played against the CPU and as you win you fill your “Turbo” meter (letters on the words Top Trumps at the bottom of the screen). At the end of several rounds you face off against the CPU in a final traditional game.
Instead of a full deck of cards, the number of cards you and the CPU start off with depends on how much each of you have filled your meter during the main game. Once one of you have won this, it’s game over. Throughout each of the mini games, and the final match, decks are chosen at random from the six on offer in the game (although the PC version promised additional packs available as downloads).
But How Does Top Trumps Turbo Play?
In a word, badly. There isn’t enough depth in the gameplay to maintain interest for very long periods of time. What’s worse is the fact that this is a single player game. Top Trumps was always intended for two or more players. Strip that core element away and what was once a great social game becomes a sad, lonely affair. Part of the fun was being able to read your opponent’s expressions and try to figure out what cards they held before deciding what to play. When there’s no human opponent all of those nuances of the game are lost.
Many of the mini games have little or no substance to them. In addition, a number of them move along so rapidly that you barely have time to absorb what is presented to you on screen. All too often I found myself trying to look at what cards were on screen but found the game progressing before I had the chance to read anything. It was also somewhat confusing and there were times when I genuinely had no idea whether it was supposed to be my turn or that of the CPUs!
At Least It Looks Good Doesn’t It?
That’s another let down. Visually it looks quite bland and rushed, The graphics overall lack polish and the cards aren’t particularly well defined. Even on the Vita’s OLED screen I found it extremely difficult to make out what was written on most of the cards. This game has had a mid-priced digital release and a physical release, yet the presentation doesn’t give that impression and it feels like a low budget title. I certainly expected more, and especially from something that would be so dependent on its visuals.
I have to say that I’m extremely disappointed. Where this really fails is that is misses a lot of the fundamentals of the core Top Trumps game. There’s no multiplayer mode so you’re just stuck playing the game repeatedly against the CPU. It also offers no variety beyond the fixed mini game format. This should have offered the option to play the standard Top Trumps game as a two or more player game. Top Trumps is at its absolute best when played against someone else and it’s shocking that this is missed here.
With just six limited decks to choose from in Top Trumps Turbo this too is astonishing. It’s clear that the license for the game has extended to the entire range so just six sets beggars belief. With so much space on the PS Vita card there’s no reason why dozens of packs couldn’t have been included. Sadly, as with FunBox Media’s other recent physical release for the Vita (Vegas Party), this is a wasted opportunity. With such a wide-reaching license there was a huge potential here with Top Trumps Turbo but sadly it has been squandered away on a bland, unappealing game. With hundreds of decks released, even just a digital version of the game with multiple packs on hand would have been better than this offering.
At a Glance:
- Title: Top Trumps Turbo
- Publisher: Funbox Media
- Format: PS Vita Card / PSN Download
- Memory Card Space Required: TBC
- Cross Buy: N / A
- PlayStation TV Compatible: TBC