Prolific localiser eastasiasoft and Zoo Corporation have been getting along swimmingly of late. We’re fast reaching a point where nearly all of the latter’s casual games that were originally released on PC are now available for console platforms, too, with the latest addition to the lineup being Poker Pretty Girls Battle: Texas Hold ‘Em.
And a very welcome sight these games are, too, since sometimes we all want something pick-up-and-play to enjoy for a few minutes at a time, particularly on a portable device such as the Nintendo Switch. And if there are pretty girls involved? Well, so much the better, I say.
Over the years, Zoo Corporation has put out several very similar games with different characters and artwork; the fact that eastasiasoft has released its ports of these games in relatively close proximity to one another means that this is all the more obvious. In fact, one would be forgiven for thinking that Poker Pretty Girls Battle: Texas Hold ‘Em is, in fact, the exact same game as Poker Pretty Girls Battle: Fantasy World Edition, which we looked at a while back.
For the most part, it is the same game with different artwork (albeit still drawn from Zoo Corporation’s eroge imprints Norn and Miel), but with a few subtle but nonetheless noteworthy differences that we’ll come onto in a moment. First, though, for the benefit of those who haven’t stumbled across this game or its predecessor before, here’s what it’s all about.
In Poker Pretty Girls Battle: Texas Hold ‘Em, you are confronted with a bevy of beach-bound, bikini-clad beauties who all want nothing more than to play a round or two of Texas Hold ‘Em with you. In order to clear each “stage” in the game, you’ll need to beat each opponent at least once — which, in practice, means winning a four-player game in which your lady of choice is just one of your rivals.
Each game of Poker Pretty Girls Battle: Texas Hold ‘Em begins with all four players at the table having a hundred chips. From there, standard Texas Hold ‘Em rules are followed: each player is dealt two cards which are kept secret from the other players, and a round of betting begins. Then three cards are dealt to the table as the “flop”, after which there’s another round of betting. Then the “turn” is dealt in the form of another community card for the table, and there’s another round of betting. Finally, the “river” is dealt as one last community card, and there’s a final round of betting.
After this, the “showdown” determines who has the best hand according to the rankings, and whoever wins gets all the chips in the pot. If there’s a draw, various circumstances determine who the pot is awarded to and if it’s split between multiple players. Once a player runs out of chips, they’re out; get all three of your rivals to run out of chips and you’ve won that round, which unlocks a section of artwork for the stage that you’re on.
For those familiar with Poker Pretty Girls Battle: Fantasy World Edition, this will doubtless all sound very familiar, and indeed the execution is pretty much identical. The controller-based interface works well and the game flows quickly and smoothly, making it enjoyable to play.
There are a couple of notable differences, though. Firstly, while playing in the game’s main “Pretty Mode”, which is how you unlock artwork and new opponents, the extra two seats at the table are now taken up by male opponents rather than other members of the female cast. This makes a bit more sense than the all-girl approach in Poker Pretty Girls Battle: Fantasy World Edition, since supposedly you’re competing against one specific girl at a time, not three.
Secondly, while in Poker Pretty Girls Battle: Fantasy World Edition it was nigh-impossible to make any of your opponents fold, in Poker Pretty Girls Battle: Texas Hold ‘Em, an opponent is much more likely to fold if they believe they’re in an unwinnable situation. This means that a tactic which never worked in Fantasy World Edition — bluffing through extravagant betting — is now a viable option in Poker Pretty Girls Battle: Texas Hold ‘Em, which changes up the strategy significantly.
These two little tweaks to the formula, while subtle, make Poker Pretty Girls Battle: Texas Hold ‘Em a more enjoyable game than Fantasy World Edition. Games feel a lot more varied and interesting, which in turn means you’ll likely maintain your interest in this one for quite a bit longer — though make no mistake, this is still very much a casual game designed for “dipping” into when you feel like rather than spending hours at a time with.
All of Zoo Corporation’s games are great titles to have as digital downloads on the Switch, because it means any time you’re in the mood for a bit of no-frills fun with some sexy art, you can just fire it up and enjoy it for a few minutes. They, in essence, provide what everyone thought mobile games were going to do before they became riddled with microtransactions, advertising, subscription fees and other obnoxious features — and I’m certainly not complaining at the Switch reclaiming the casual game market from the exploitative mobile marketplace.
For existing owners of Poker Pretty Girls Battle: Fantasy World Edition, the marginally improved gameplay makes this new version worth considering, especially considering its low price point. If you don’t own either and fancy a bit of casual poker fun, plump for this one unless you’re really in the mood for busty elves.
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