Even though Sega Casino for the Nintendo DS includes a pair of poker variants, the main share of games included on the game card are odds-based games like roulette and craps. By nature, odds-based games are less interactive than skill-based games, so, in turn, this collection of casino games is primarily a passive exercise. To further complicate matters, the artificial intelligence programming in the two poker games is rudimentary at best. This collection is best suited for people who enjoy noncompetitive, simple wagering games.
All told, the game card includes 11 different casino games. If you want to leave your fate purely up to the odds, you can indulge in roulette, baccarat, keno, and Chuck-A-Luck. If you'd like to be able to vary your bets or get out midgame but still mainly play the odds, you can test your mettle in blackjack, craps, and three separate versions of video poker. Rounding out the collection are two skill-based poker variants, Texas Hold 'em and seven-card stud. Play modes include free play, casino, and multiplayer. In the casino mode, you start out with $1,000 and move up to higher-stakes rooms as you increase your bankroll. The multiplayer mode is limited to blackjack and the two poker games, but on the upside, as many as five people can link their systems together using only a single game card.
Clearly, the majority of games included on the card are odds-based games, which don't offer much in the way of interactivity or competition. Games like roulette, keno, and Chuck-A-Luck are more like lotteries, in that you throw down multiple bets and win or lose depending on the numbers that turn up. Blackjack and craps are somewhat more interactive, and, in turn, more enjoyable, because you can choose to continue or pull out based on the initial cards or dice that come up. The lack of interactivity in these game's isn't Sega's fault. That's how they work. In fact, if you're a fan of odds-based games like these, you'll be pleased with the accurate representations that are included in the compilation.
Not so hot, unfortunately, are the skill-based poker variants, Texas Hold 'em and seven-card stud. CPU opponents only bet when they have a strong hand, always, and they never bluff. Otherwise, they check and make calls rather randomly. With that knowledge in hand, you quickly learn to muck your cards whenever a CPU player bets and to hang in there and leech away the CPU's money the rest of the time. Texas Hold 'em is extremely dull when there's no risk or psychology involved. Multiplayer play is much better, obviously, because your friends are more likely to bluff and play aggressively.
DS fans will appreciate that Sega has made some use of the system's dual-screen and touch screen features. The upper screen typically shows odds information or key animations, such as the spinning of the roulette wheel or the turning of the Chuck-A-Luck basket. Meanwhile, displayed on the lower touch screen are the cards, dice, and the betting surface. You can perform actions, such as betting, checking, rolling, or whatever else by pressing the indicated buttons or by tapping and dragging objects on the touch screen. Both control schemes are simple and intuitive.
Simple is also a good way to describe the compilation's overall presentation. Two utilitarian menu screens list the available play modes and game types. After making your selections, you'll find yourself staring at the playing surface, which shows the cards, bet amounts, and any other information that's pertinent to that particular game. The only viewpoint is top-down, so you can't see the surrounding environment or other players. For the most part, the tables and props are colorful and the cards and text are large and easy to see. There isn't much in the way of animation, aside from cards being dealt and the movement of props like the roulette wheel or the dice in the various dice games. Accompanying all of the so-called action is a looping bit of elevator music and a modest smattering of sound effects that go along with the cards being dealt, the dice being rolled, and so on.
Sega Casino is neither spectacular nor particularly bad. There just isn't much substance to it. It's enjoyable in brief bursts, though, particularly if you enjoy odds-based games like blackjack, craps, and video poker.