Shichi Narabe is the Japanese version of Sevens, a card game played all over the world with minor regional variations. This single-player Flash implementation of the game has no English translation, but the rules are very simple.
There are four players. At the beginning of a round, all the cards in a regular 52-card deck plus the joker are dealt out. The four 7s, whoever has them in hand, go immediately into the center of the table.
Your goal is to play all the cards in your hand. Taking turns, each player can lay a card on the table if it is in sequence with an already-played card of the same suit. The sequence can ascend or descend, and Aces are considered adjacent to Kings. If you can't make a play, you'll have to use one of your three passes and hope things have opened up by your next turn.
The joker can take the place of any card in the deck, so long as you can immediately play the next card in sequence. For example, if the 6 of spades is on the board, and you have the 4 of spades and the joker in hand, you can play the joker in the place of the 5, and then you will automatically play the 4 in the same turn. The joker is unplayable if it is your only remaining card.
Scoring is even simpler: you get more points the earlier you go out. Don't be the last player to shed your cards, though, because a giant claw will pick you up by the head and carry you away.
Analysis: Wait, claw? What? Yeah, no kidding. While my Japanese is rusty and non-existent, there seems to be a storyline, revolving around a room full of stone cactus-people locked in an endless Deer Hunter-esque card game death-match. You play a green cactus battling for its very survival. Your doom is certain, your only hope to prolong the sweet breath of life for a few more rounds of Sevens before The Claw hauls you off to the Great Gravel-Maker in the Sky.
Or something like that. A translation would be most welcome.
This implementation of Shichi Narabe leaves a few things to be desired. There's no visual cue when you're out of plays, so I spent many turns clicking through each one of my cards, in case I missed a possibility. I'm also not sure why my cards have to appear in my hand in random order. I wasted a lot of time scanning over my hand to make sure I don't have any more hearts, when they could just as easily have been grouped together.
The game itself depends partly on luck, which makes it an odd choice for this one-strike-and-you're-out bloodsport framework. You will pick up a few strategies, but sometimes everyone else will have the sevens and the joker, and you'll be stuck staring at a rainbow of kings and aces. You're claw food, buddy. Back to zero.
The addictive appeal comes from the same place as solitaire—maybe you'll get lucky the next time, and there are many ways to increase your chances. You may find yourself playing a lot more rounds of Shichi Narabe than you planned. Even if you're not into card games, it's worth playing at least once, to see the vacant, curious look the cacti give their loser friends as they are carried away to be mulched.