One of my earliest memories of computer games was booting up Solitaire on our family computer. It was simple, dragging cards to pockets in numerical order. There was a sense of strategy and randomness that kept me hooked until I solved the puzzle before me.
As it turns out, Solitaire is not the only game of its kind. These days, it is an entire genre of solo experience card games, inspired by the well-known classic. Frosty Pop has taken a jab at the casual card game market with its card boxing game, Deck ‘Em!
Learn The Ropes
You play as a rookie fighter on the professional circuit. Howard, the announcer, admits you have no chance against the champion, but last twelve rounds against him, and you can earn some fame and a big payout.
Deck ‘Em! Relies on strategy and a bit of luck to succeed. Each round 4 cards are drawn into the top row. Cards with blue corners are beneficial punches, blocks, and health items. Red cards with a beefy angry man are Champ cards that need to be dealt with to survive the round.
On the bottom row is your rookie with their current health. The leftmost space can be used to store punch cards for future use. To the right of the rookie is a space for block cards. The rightmost space is the corner that can temporarily hold an additional card. Once a card is moved to a space, it cannot go back onto the top row and must either be used or covered with another card, removing it from play.
Keep Your Guard Up!
The bulk of the game relies on knowing how to utilize block cards to their peak effectiveness. Block cards have a block value on the top left and a stamina value on the bottom right. If the block number on the top is higher than the HP on the Champ card you drag onto it, you successfully block all incoming damage from that card. If it is lower, your rookie takes reduced damage.
After the first use, the card’s endurance will change to the HP of the Champ that was blocked. The card will then only block damage from Champs that have the same number or less. Using a lower number Champ next will lower the value to that number and so on. Do you use a 12 block to reduce the damage from an incoming 10, weakening it for future attacks? Or do you save it in case another big 12 comes out next round?
A game of Deck ‘Em! can be finished in 5 minutes. There are not many actions available per round so decision paralysis is kept to a minimum. At its heart, this is a score seeking game. After a fight, there is a double or nothing bet option for the next fight. There are no upgrades or unlocks to be found, only a fight to the top of the online leader boards.
Bob And Weave
The cartoon visual style of Deck ‘Em! exudes charm. Cards are nicely detailed and easy to read at a glance. The people are expressive, whether its Howard cheering on a good play or the rookies gaining nasty welts as they lose health. The sound design is minimalistic with a chill looping background track that suits the vibe of the gameplay.
As with most mobile game port offerings, its functional albeit with some drawbacks. The settings menu consists of on-off toggles for betting, sound effects, music, and fullscreen mode. No specific resolution options. Screen real estate is poorly utilized here as most of the bulk of the action happens on the right side of the screen. In the original, Howard was positioned at the top of the screen, looking down at the area of play. Here, he is off to the side, looking down at…menu buttons? A side effect of rearranging assets for a horizontal screen no doubt.
I would have appreciated larger cards in the center of the screen with Howard at the top. An alternative, compact half window view would have been a great addition as this game that is suitable for playing while multitasking.
For what it is, Deck ‘Em! is a nice distraction. The lack in card and mechanical variety results in a game that is far more suited for short bursts of play. Its easy to learn nature and incredibly cheap price make this a great pick-up-and-play title.
While it won't entertain for hours, Deck 'Em! offers simple card game fun for an affordable price point.