Balatro has been one of the biggest surprise hits of 2024, wooing people in with its Poker base and absolutely addictive tweaks, twists and format. The crazy card game has wiggled its way into the hearts of millions the world over, and now the developer behind the hit is showing off Balatro in its earliest form.

Long before Balatro was Joker Poker, the prototype for what Balatro would eventually become. Creator LocalThunk shared videos like the one above to show off Joker Poker in a build from 2021, and while you can see some elements that still exist in Balatro today, there are many others that got yanked, changed or adjusted greatly before release.

The biggest thing that had to be worked on before Balatro saw release was the balance in gameplay, as early prototypes were pretty much broken in that regard. A lot of fine-tuning was required, along with the obvious sprucing up up the interface. Throw in a few more bells and whistles and you arrive at Balatro!

If you’d like to see more prototype Balatro footage, you can find a few more clips on LocalThunk’s X account.

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