Wednesday, March 9, 2022

8-Bit Encyclopedia: Euchre

 A game so midwestern it calls every fizzy drink, "pop."

Wait, did you say, "NES Euchre?" Yes. Yes I did.

In some alternate universe, the Nintendo Entertainment System was released exclusively to the US Midwest. From Ohio to Nebraska, Minnesota to Missouri, kids shouldered up to the KB Toys NES display, (politely) saying, "Ope, 'scuse me, gonna go ahead and -- grab one of these 'Euchre' cartridges." In this Midwest-centric Universe, NES "Euchre" sells over 40 Million units. The Game Boy becomes the Euchre Boy. Church festivals and sleepover basements are rife with kids calling loners and overtrumping kings with bowers.

If only.

In our wider, non-Midwest branch of the multiverse, NES Euchre is a nifty homebrew game by Doug Fraker. Coded as part 2018's's Best Homebrew competition, Euchre is exactly what it promises to be: an 8-bit version of the popular trick-taking card game. "Euchre" is available for free download from Fraker's website: 

Just don't spill your pop.
The only thing NES "Euchre" lacks is
the sound of Big Ten football droning
in the background.

The game plays like a dream. A speed option from the main menu allows the game to run as quickly or slowly as a player likes. The AI is reasonable. The music is catchy without being annoying. All in all, NES Euchre is a wonderful little game, a fun way to relax and kill a few minutes.

The only downsides aren't so much downsides, as they are nit picking. An options menu would be nice. I'd like to be able to enforce different regional rule variations such as being able to call "no trump" or "sticking the dealer." It would be nice if the game text had a little more flavor; most pronouncements made at a Midwestern euchre table end with exclamation points1.  Mostly, though, it feels like the the graphics for “Euchre" need an extra coat of polish.

Enter me, wax and rag in hand.

Because playing euchre and NES graphics editing sit smack in the center of my Venn Diagram of nerdiness, I've tweaked the game's graphics. I've made the four suits--spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds--larger and clearer. I've updated the typeface on the cards to make them more readable. I've also inserted new graphics for the face cards. Is it a huge difference? Of course not. Fraker's game runs fine without my interference. But if retro gaming, euchre and big, chunky graphics are your thing, feel free to grab my patch for Doug Fraker's Euchre at this link. Apply with patching software such as Lunar IPS, load into your favorite emulator or cart and enjoy!

Mmm...look at those tasty, tasty clubs.
Why, King...did your sword get bigger
or are you just happy to see me?

1 and, yes, I'd like to be able milk the cows when I'm in the barn.

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