Bicycle Rummy

Reviewed by: Craig Bull, send e-mail

Published by: Expert Software
Requires: Win95/98, 486DX/100, 8MB RAM (16MB recommended), 256-color SVGA video, CDROM, 30MB hard drive space, 16-bit sound card
MSRP: $14.95

(Ed Note: Expert Software is out of business but you can still find this excellent game in delete bins and computer fairs everywhere)

Bicycle Rummy from Expert Software contains nine variations of Rummy, including 500 Rum, Gin Rummy, and Oklahoma Gin. You can play multiple computer opponents or online against other human opponents at the Microsoft Internet Gaming Zone. Difficulty levels can be set so you can play more difficult computer opponents. There is also a tutorial mode so if you don't know a specific game you can learn.

Installation was very straightforward. Installation took just a few minutes and about 24MB of disk space. The game interface itself is very simple to use. The initial screen allows you to specify games options, such as which of the 9 variations you wish to play. Each can be played with two players, while certain others allow up to four players. You can play each version in Normal or Tutorial mode. You can also set a few other options, including setting the Ace high, low or both. You can also determine whether runs go "around the corner" (Q,K,A,2).

Game play is straightforward. In Tutorial mode, the game will suggest a discard or meld, as appropriate. I don't always agree with the suggestion, but that's why it's a suggestion. In normal mode, you don't receive the suggestions. That's the only difference between the two modes of play.

Graphics are nice, but nothing spectacular. The card faces are readable and can be changed to a larger face if necessary. It appears that screen's maximum size is 640x480. I run at a higher resolution, and I was unable to maximize to fill my entire screen.

One feature that I was unable to accurately test is the ability to play against other users over a network. You can play via direct serial connection, modem (head-to-head), or over an IPX or IP network. One person initiates the game and the others join in. When enough people have joined, the initiator can start the game. Any unfilled seats will be taken by a computer player. While I was unable to verify it, I would assume that each player will need their own copy of Bicycle Rummy.

You can also play online via Microsoft's MSN Gaming Zone. You select a room specifically for various Bicycle game products, in this case Bicycle Rummy. You can then start or join a game. It's very similar to starting one of the other network games. Once the game is started, your copy will load and you can play against the other opponents using the standard interface. In reviewing this function, I never found more than two people in all the Bicycle rooms (there are 27), so I don't know how much use this is.

All things considered, this isn't a bad game. If you're looking to learn the rules and strategies of playing Rummy, I'm not sure this is for you. The Tutorial mode is only moderately helpful and the online help doesn't go into a lot of detail. But if you are familiar with the rules and are looking for a program to allow you to play rummy, either against the computer or other users, this is a great program to use.

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