HOYLE Canasta

HOYLE Canasta is just one of the over one hundred and fifty card games included in HOYLE Card Games 2009 and its predecessor HOYLE Games 2008. This fine software product was created by the people at HOYLE, the definitive source for card game rules. In fact, HOYLE itself claims to be the ultimate name in gaming.


How did it earn that title for itself? For over two hundred years now, HOYLE has produced hundreds of books on card game rules and for the most part, what they have written in their books becomes the official standard for the game. HOYLE has also recorded the history of every game (and many game variants) for which it publishes rules, and these histories become the official standard as well.

HOYLE Computerized Card Games – HOYLE Canasta

All of which positions HOYLE well to present perhaps the single largest collection of computerized card games in one software package, including “HOYLE Canasta,” as well as fifty-five different versions of solitaire, “HOYLE Texas Hold ‘Em” and “HOYLE Omaha Hold ‘Em”, “HOYLE Cribbage”, “HOYLE Gin Rummy”, and even “HOYLE Pinochle”. While that variety of card games should make HOYLE Card Games attractive to those looking to play “HOYLE Canasta” or other official HOYLE games, there is more to a game than just variety. Any downloadable card game has to be playable, it should offer something over online versions of the games, and the graphics should make you want to enjoy looking at the game while you are waiting for the opponents to play.

The good news is that HOYLE Card Games scores well in many of these aspects. The graphics are well rendered, evocative, and visually interesting, even the “HOYLE Canasta” games. This is significant because one knock against many other card game software producers has been that their graphics just have not been up to par, especially when it comes to lesser known games like Canasta. One company might produce a gorgeous Spades variant, but a truly awful looking Canasta game. Not so with “HOYLE Canasta”. The same commitment to a nice look is shared throughout for all the games.

Also, with the graphics, HOYLE Card Games has a nice Face Creator feature which allows you to customize your avatar when you play. This is an interesting benefit as some people will really get into having their own character playing cards while others will not care at all. However, for those who do like creating an avatar, this is a clear advantage for “HOYLE Canasta” and HOYLE Card Games over online games and other Canasta games out there.

The game play of HOYLE Cards Games is a mixed bag. On one hand, it is nice that the game offers computer opponents with several different skill levels. With HOYLE Card Games, you are not going to have the chance to play against humans, so your only challenge will come at the hands of the game’s artificial intelligence. Therefore multiple levels of ever-increasing difficulty are a must.

On the other hand, the game is reportedly buggy. It is quite possible that HOYLE overreached with the number of card games they decided to offer in one software package. Building the game-specific rules into the user interface and programming the computer opponents to play the game well doubtlessly took a great deal of time and effort. Given just how much labor that must have taken, it is quite easy to see how bugs could fall through the cracks and make it into the finished product. Sadly, these bugs have been noticed by reviewers and the game just has not been reviewed that well on Internet game sites.

There is some hope, though, for HOYLE Card Games fans. Most of the negative reviews were for the 2008 version. The 2009 version has not received nearly as much criticism.

Either way, HOYLE Card Games and “HOYLE Canasta” offer a nice place to play the game of Canasta. A large number of other Canasta games available for download or purchase are just not up to par given how good software is for Spades, Hearts, Bridge, etc. On one level, it’s no surprise that Canasta would be a second class citizen amongst card games because it’s just not played as widely as those other games. Still, it is a shame that those players who love the game did not have more choices to get a decent version that they liked.

You get that with “HOYLE Canasta”. At the very least, “HOYLE Canasta” gives Canasta fans one more alternative they can investigate. While every buyer should be aware of the bugs that were very present in the 2008 version (and, as such, should try to locate the 2009 version), this should not be taken as an indictment of the series or a warning to stay away. Rather, it is merely something to consider when choosing the one or two pieces of Canasta software you might want to purchase.

If the bugginess of the previous versions of HOYLE Card Games makes you nervous, you can always download a trial version. Install it on your machine, play it, and see if you find it to be too buggy. If not, you can pay for the full version with the confidence you are getting something you want to play. Also, in some places like Amazon.com, the full version of the game can be purchased for such a small amount that there is virtually no risk. In fact, HOYLE Card Games sells for less than many games for software companies without HOYLE’s track record.

If you are interested in the game, HOYLE Card Games is available for both Macintosh and Windows. Currently, the Mac should be running OS X10 and should be installed with a G3, G4, G5, or Intel processor. For a Windows PC, HOYLE Card Games runs on Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. Fortunately, neither the processor speed or the memory requirements are that high so it can be played even by those without top shelf computers.