Here’s a game that’s getting on close to two years old, that I somehow missed on previous trolls through the indie game catalogue. “Red Hot Poker” does something pretty interesting, and it has little to do with the game of poker (because, well, this not a poker game despite its title). In fact, it’s more Sega’s “Columns” than it is the World Series of Poker.
So, yes, this is a falling item puzzle game (think Tetris, Columns, Puyo Puyo, etc.). Playing cards fall from the top of the screen, and you decide where you want to put them. What’s neat about this is that anyone familiar with the relationships between cards in poker will be able to create relationships that would be difficult to establish with colours or patterns. Pairs, straights, flushes, you name it, it’s all here. You can easily blast off pairs, but the big points come from building up to flushes, straights, full houses, royal flushes, etc. How many cards are you willing to fill the screen with as you wait for the one card you need to clear a big chunk of the screen for even bigger points. Most puzzle games are constrained by forcing you to pair up a bunch of gems (or whatever) of a given colour, but utilising the well known playing card relationships of poker allows for a great many more combinations. It’s absolutely worth a download for puzzle game fans with at least a rudimentary knowledge of poker card combinations.
Here’s what the developer (SmoothMoov Games) has to say about the game:
“In Red Hot Poker, you use the cards that are given to create poker hands within the grid. Your score is based on the poker hands that you create. So, better poker hands give a bigger score. You can create a hand both vertically or horizontally and the cards don’t have to be in order to create a hand.”