Spades is simple: bid for a certain amount of tricks, then take them with your partner while avoiding unwanted bags and feel free to pass when bidding nil. Yeah, we didn't get it either, but the tutorial built into Hardwood Spades tells you exactly how to play this classic trump card game in about 10 minutes. Guess what? It's fun.
Hardwood Spades excels as a two-on-two team experience (much of the gameplay involves forcing your opponents to take cards that they don't want), but when you can't find friends on Live, the computer can sub in. Of course, against the AI, it's less fun to send Fooms, Hardwood Spades' animated emotional outbursts like shooting lightning at your opponent or blowing a kiss to your partner. Of course, since the game supports voice chat, Fooms serve little purpose; a trusty four-letter word will tell your partner how you really feel. And speaking of offensive noises, the dreamy, vaguely medieval flute and harp soundtrack makes you feel like you're in a magical land where your conscious self dissolves and you're left with only the pure, homicidal rage of hearing the same damned music every two minutes.
You can't do much to dress up a card table (though you don't even have to show the table - think outside the box, people!). However, you can swap backgrounds to show serene nightscapes, views from outer space and ultra-groovy rainbow swirls. Freakin' card-playin' hippies.
Nobody's trying to reinvent card games here; they're just trying to make them attractive and easy to use. Hardwood Spades is cheap, cute, competitive and worth the cash if you like team-based card games in the least.