Swords & Poker Adventures┬áis just a bit too much like actual poker for my own tastes: all the glossy sheen and the surprisingly deep card battling system can’t hide the fact that they’re just trying to reach into your wallet.

Konami presses a bit too hard with their incessant nagging to connect with Facebook, but the real problem is how the temptation to spend kinda sneaks up on you. At first, the game is fun and you feel like you’re doing well. Then around the fourth zone, the difficulty ramps up a bit, and the game starts to feel a bit luck-based. Did you take too much damage in a fight with a bear (and you’ve already used your once-per-zone free refill)? Okay, a few gems won’t hurt. Hmm, that was a tough fight. Maybe it’ll be a bit easier if I had better equipment or if I could equip on these powerful spells. Well, say goodbye to a few more gems. Wow, I’m on a hot streak, but now I’m out of battle energy. You get the idea.

What’s disturbing is how quickly Konami seemingly mastered the art of manipulating gamers. Every zone has three bonus objectives that you can attempt to complete, which include things like defeating enemies using specific equipment or poker hands, causing a status effect to every enemy in the zone, or defeating an enemy without taking damage. You get nothing for completing these objectives, and yet Konami is banking on the fact that gamers won’t be able to resist trying and hopefully being forced to spend their gems in the process. What’s particularly disturbing is that it’ll probably work.

It’s a shame, really, because as I mentioned in my first impressions, the game itself is actually pretty good. It’s clear that Konami still knows something about creating fun games. It’s just a shame that they’ve started using their knowledge for evil.

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