Ultimate Yahtzee offers five versions of the popular poker-themed dice game and multiple 3D backgrounds. Featured variants include "Classic Yahtzee," "Triple Yahtzee," "Painted Yahtzee," "Pyramid Yahtzee," and "Battle Yahtzee." All feature the same underlying play mechanics with slightly different rules. "Pyramid," for example, has pyramid-shaped dice and introduces new scoring combinations, while "Battle" involves rolling your dice into your rival's to change his or her score. Each game includes a "virtual cup" that can be shaken with the mouse to simulate dice rolls. Also available are in-game hints and on-screen odds.
Yahtzee, normally a very simple game included as a part of a package of games, finally comes into its own with Ultimate Yahtzee. This CD-ROM offers five different types of Yahtzee to choose from. You can play everything from Classic Yahtzee to Battle Yahtzee, Pyramid Yahtzee, Triple Yahtzee, or Painted Yahtzee. These variations are unusual, entertaining, and fun alternatives to the old, roll-the-dice and mark-your-score of Classic Yahtzee. Each game is visually stunning and tactically enjoyable, and Yahtzee fans should find themselves addicted quickly.
Classic Yahtzee is everything you would expect from your old favorite, and more. When you start the game, you can play with up to four players, human or computer. The artificial intelligence that drives the players can be set to be four levels of playing skill, and the highest level is truly a good challenge for yahtzee adepts. When you start Classic Yahtzee, you are presently with an old-fashioned playing surface, very similar to what you might expect to find in a casino environment. The rolling surface resembles green velvet, and the sides and accents give the look and feel of an old-fashioned teak wood. The music is classy and catchy, but after a while, you might choose to leave the music off. It's entirely up to the player's preference.
The truly fun thing that I didn't even notice at first is that the dice cup is actually under your control. When you start rolling, you can wiggle the mouse around and shake the dice! This can be a great source of amusement as you dance the dice around in tune to the music, or according to the dictates of some inner demon. To roll the dice, you just click on the cup and start your shaking. If you tip the cup too far, the dice even fly out. Otherwise, you can click the left mouse button, and the dice release. Then, to select the individual die to set aside, you just click on it. It appears up in the holding tray. When you click on the cup again to roll, the others go back inside to be rolled. If you want to remove a die from the holding tray, you can click on it there, and it will return to the playing surface.
Once you are ready to score your roll, which can be done during any roll, you simply move your mouse over to the scoring area and click on the line item that you want the roll scored under. The game keeps track of the scoring possibilities based on what you have available from the dice. When the game is finished, you are presented with the high score list, which, if you're lucky, you might even make.
With Classic Yahtzee, like the others, you can save games in progress and then start them again later if you want to, and you have options to use the CD music, a short music loop that doesn't require the CD, or no music at all.
The other variations (Battle, Pyramid, Triple, and Painted) offer you a whole new, refreshing, look at the way yahtzee can be played. In Painted Yahtzee, you open with a very upbeat and manic theme. The board is quite an eyeful, and the scoring is increasingly complicated, since you can get combinations that include not only numbers, but colors. For example, in addition to many of the old favorites, like certain numbers, large straights, and yahtzees, you can try for 4 of a Color, Straight Flush (five numbers in sequence, all the same color), Rainbow (one of each color), or Colored Full House (three of one color and two of another, any numbers). The Help Overlay, which tells you how the combination works when you pass over its scoring box with the mouse, is particularly useful on this game.
Triple Yahtzee presents you with a marble, antique-looking board, and some piano-bar jazzy music. The premise of this game is just like its boardgame counterpart: three Yahtzee scoring pads at once, with a chance to use any available scoring slot to make the highest possible score. Although this seems simple, the combinations and possibilities due to the doubling and tripling on the second and third score set make this game both challenging and tricky.
Pyramid Yahtzee has an Egyptian feel to it, and the music is somewhat otherworldly. The dice are pyramid-shaped, and you use the numbers facing right-side up on the dice to determine scoring. You have similar scoring options to Classic Yahtzee, but the rolling odds change slightly due to the unusual shape of your dice. Because the dice only have four sides, you can only get numbers one through four, and this changes the type of rolls you can get. As with the other games, you can pass over the scoring card for more explanation of your choices.
Battle Yahtzee has a pretty heavy musical score, and the scene as you start the game looks very futuristic. This game is a two-player, all-out war against the other player. The scoring possibilities are the same. What makes this game so nasty (a battle) is that on the third roll of the second roller, all of the dice you decide to keep and score are lowered into the arena and the other player has a chance to disrupt and knock your dice apart. You alternate having the chance to do this during the game, and it can get quite vindictive!
Each of these games has a very unique feel to it, and all five provide a different twist on the Yahtzee that we are all familiar with. Hasbro has done a fabulous job providing us with the standard game of Yahtzee while giving us many hours of new pleasure from these entertaining variations.
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