Good, cheap or even free card games (Skat, Poker, Canasta etc.) are, as I had to experience myself, always hard to find. However, I have one which I would like to present: Canasta.
Most of you will know Canasta, so I will only briefly introduce the rough principles. At least there are countless rule variants and adaptions:
Canasta can be played starting with 2 players, but it also offers the possibility to have teams (2 versus 2 or 3 against 3). You play the game with 2 complete decks, ranging from 2 to ace, including 3 jokers. It is the goal to get a Canasta. This is 7 cards of one kind (7 kings, 7 queens or seven 4s). To be able to drop cards at all, you have to have at least 3 cards and then, you can extend the collection gradually, either from the stock or the pile. In addition to the 6 'big' jokers, the 2s can also be used as jokers and therefore can be used as a replacement for missing cards. Although there may never be more jokers within a Canasta than 'real' cards.
That would be the rough idea. Now about this computer conversion from 1999: we begin a new game in the 'project' menu. The controls are simple and quite easy for Windows users, because everything is according to older versions of Windows. The stock and the pile can be found on the top right. Below, we get our cards pre-sorted in ascending order, but we can also shuffle them by dragging. The application will always tell us nicely what we have to do ('You have to draw a card' etc.). On top, we see the hidden cards of our competition. In the centre, we can find the 'desktop' on which we and the other players place their cards.
Because it is a shareware version, a polite reminder to register in order to avoid interruptions appears in regular intervals . We can also imprint some of our 'own' rules into the game through the settings. Unfortunately, the point most important to me is not covered; namely that you can only draw cards from the pile if you have at least 2 of the same kind already. At the end, you will receive some nice statistics and an overview of the current overall scores.
Our opponent talks to us a little, which is quite nice. Apart from that, no miracles. Graphics have been kept simple, but at least the cards look very nice and realistic. The controls, as mentioned, are fairly easy; everything works exclusively with the right or left mouse button.
Conclusion: nice shareware and actually suited as a short-term replacement of a real person. Unfortunately, it does not replace a real opponent, so longevity is strictly limited.
Translated by Mr Creosote