Knights of the Old Republic remains a classic RPG, with or without a remake, and part of its timelessness lies in its minigame. Pazaak was so much more than just a Star Wars version of blackjack, and to one developer, it turned into an entirely new game 10 years in the making.
For those who didn’t play the 2004 RPG, Pazaak is a minigame where the goal is to play cards reaching a score as close to 20 as possible. There are two decks–a dealer deck and a side deck of 10 secret cards. Every round starts with a card played from the dealer deck, and then the player has the option to play one of the cards they drew from their side deck. The first to reach 20 without going over wins.
At the start of Knight of the Old Republic, players would only have to contend with cards that merely added or subtracted to their overall score, but later on you’d get cards that could do both, or add varying values, or double your last card, or even subtract score from your opponents cards. It got pretty complicated near the end of the game, and there were a few valuable pickups to be had from winning matches.
Most people probably put Pazaak down after beating KOTOR, but one game developer never forgot about Pazaak. In a post on the KOTOR subreddit, user Sexual_Lettuce (stay classy Reddit) explained how they’re taking a near 20-year-old minigame and turning it into a standalone RPG.
"Nearly ten years ago, I set out to make a mobile card game adapted from Pazaak," explained Sexual_Lettuce. "I was a huge fan of the original, so I wanted to see what I could do with it. I made lots of changes, including rebalancing some existing cards, adding new cards, adding a rule that a full field of 9 cards trumps a 20, adding new game modes, and alternating which player goes first."
They also expanded the game beyond a mere mobile time waster. Called Freeborn, the game will be a full standalone title with a soundtrack, visual novel-style conversations, and a story that revolves entirely around Pazaak (or "Ekosi" in the world of Freeborn).
You can wishlist Freeborn on Steam to receive updates on how things are progressing. Freeborn is due out sometime in 2022.
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