Cuarentazo, by Ecuadorian multimedia artist Ronald Jaramillo, is a Flash translation of Cuarenta (Forty), a popular card game in Ecuador. You can play solo against the computer, or multiplayer against one opponent or in teams. Click "Juega" to play, or click on "Multijugador" above the game screen to get to the multiplayer lobby. Select "English" to read through the instructions. The rules are a bit complicated, but after playing a few times it becomes fairly simple.
There are 40 cards in the deck and you must make 40 points to win by capturing the most cards and scoring points during play. You can take any card from the table that matches a card in your hand by rank or that add up to the rank in your hand. For example, a 6 in your hand can capture a 6 on the table, or a 4 plus a 2.
You gain two extra points when you capture the card your opponent just put down, called a caída (a fall) or if you clear the table you get a limpia (clean). The most complicated part is capturing a sequence of cards. If a 2, 3 and 4 are on the table, and you have a 2 in your hand, you can capture them all in sequence. The 8, 9 and 10 cards are removed from the deck, so a 7 and Jack are in sequence. You can't add up cards to match the rank of face cards, and you can't take two of the same rank like a 3 and a 3 to make 6.
So the killer move is to combine an addition capture and a sequence capture. If, for example, the table is (2, 3, 6, 7, J), you can play a 5, claiming the 2 and the 3 together, and the 6, 7, J in sequence. That's all in one play.
Once you learn the basics, you can turn your attention to the most interesting part of the game where strategy comes into play, figuring out what you can set up in advance, or guessing which cards might be safe to play without your opponent scoring extra points against you.
The cards are dealt five at a time until the whole deck is used, and then there is a re-deal if necessary. Whoever has captured more cards before the re-deal gets extra points depending on how far ahead they are, and the game ends when one of you reaches 40 points. If you want to learn more about the game, including some of the rarer scoring rules, here is a link to the full rules to the original card game, Cuarenta.
Analysis: The sound in this game is what really sells it. Every time you win or lose a point, a choir of excited voices yell at you! They cheer and jeer you, which will make you want to play more. You won't have any clue what's going on at first but it sure will sound exciting!
The graphics are fairly rudimentary, and not entirely intuitive—selecting cards takes some getting used to. You double click to lay one of your cards on the table. If you want to take cards from the table you should first click on the cards on the table that you want and then double click the card in your hand to capture. You can't unclick a card in your hand, it will act as a double click and finalize a decision. If you did not select cards on the table and you accidentally double click your card, it will just be put on the table. So just select another card in your hand instead.
The gameplay AI seems pretty good, although sometimes it makes a mistake and gets yelled at, to mimic a real opponent. When this occurs against the computer, one of its cards will be brought partially forward as a penalty, and you must click on it to place it on the table.
It's always a joy to learn card games from different countries, and now with so many game designers around the world, we can learn more and more of them.