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Review #336

5-in-1 Solitaire
Publisher: Digital Leisure
Developer: Digital Leisure
Genre: Card Game
Release Date: 02/01/2010

This is interesting. 5-in-1 Solitaire was released for DSiWare the same day as the WiiWare version. That version was only 200 Nintendo points ($2), while the Wii version if 500 ($5). You would think the portable one would be more expensive since you can take it anywhere while this version is tethered to your TV, which is probably in reach of your computer which generally has at least one version of Solitaire on it for free (Mine has three of the five modes in this game.) So it’s more than a little odd that someone would want to pay for more versions of Solitaire. However I suppose maybe you don’t want your child getting their grubby mitts all over your computer, especially since it is tax time. With that in mind, let’s see if Digital Leisure has given us a reason to actually pay money for Solitaire.

Let’s Review

1. Modes

As the name implies, 5-in-1 Solitaire gives you five versions of the card game Solitaire. You have Klondike, which is your standard Vegas Solitaire game and the one you generally find just called “Solitaire.” You have seven stacks and you’re trying to get all the cards in reverse order into four banks, one of each suit. You can turn over either one or three cards at a time depending on the rules you are using.

Freecell is another game that come standard on your computer and again your goal is to move all of the cards in reverse order into one of four piles. Here however you can only move one card at a time from one of the eight stacks to another, unless they are in order in which case you can move up to four. There is also a bank where you can store up to four cards to keep them out of your way until they are actually helpful.

Spider is the third game that usually comes on your computer for free. Here you have only one suit of cards but ten different ones. You’ll be attempting to stack card in order and when you do, they can be removed from the playing field. The goal is to remove them all. Or at least as many as you can.

Golf is one of two versions of Solitaire in this game that I’ve never encountered before. Here you start with seven piles of cards five cards deep. You have the remaining twenty cards in the deck and you turn them over one by one. You can then remove cards from the pile if they are one number (or face) higher or lower than the card you just turned over. So if it is a five, you can remove a six or a four if you have it. If you removed a six, then you can play a seven or five, and so on. Once you can’t make a move, you flip over a new card. You keep going until your twenty cards are done.

Finally there is Gaps which someone had to have been on massive amounts of crack to make up and/or understand. You have four rows of cards, each of which has thirteen cards. There are four gaps based on where the aces would be in the rows and your job is to align all the suits from 2 to K in order. It’s a very convoluted game and I can’t imagine why anyone would play this.

So you have five cards games, three of which can be found for free on any computer. One of the two new card games is really fun (Golf) while the other (Gaps) is horrible. At least you’re getting a card game for a dollar each, but it’s disappointing the DS got all five games for less than half the price.

Modes Rating: 5/10

2. Graphics

Well, there’s not to talk about here. Like with all virtual card games you have a green backdrop signifying a gambling table, a deck of cards and designs for the cards. I will say that the game gives you a choice of four different deck designs for the back of your cards, but none of them are all that interesting. As well, the card graphics are rather blocky and unattractive. It’s almost as if the developers took the DSi graphics and then resized the graphics to fit a TV screen complete with blurring and runny edges. It’s very similar to taking a low resolution image and then trying to make it work in a print article.

This isn’t a very visually appealing game, and things could have looked a lot nicer than what we have here. When my free Solitaire games on my laptop are prettier, you know there’s a problem.

Graphics Rating: 4/10

3. Sound

There’s not a lot here for sound either. You have a generic background track that is neither annoying nor memorable. It just kind of sits there and it fades into the background while you play the game. I forgot it was even playing most of the time.

Then there are the sound effects. These can be really annoying, whether they are positive or negative noises. It’s just really bad squawking or MIDI blips. The game is actually better when you mute it. I’m not sure why they added sound effects to a card game, but there you go.

Sound Rating: 4/10

4. Control and Gameplay

Your controls are pretty cut and dry. You move to a card you want to pick up and move and hold down the A button. Then you move your Wiimote to your desired location and let go. Repeat until game is won or lost. The end. You would think this would be pretty simple to , but surprisingly the gameplay isn’t flawless. There will be quite a few times when you click on a card when it does move, or when you move it to the new spot, it doesn’t take and it moves back to its original place. This can be pretty annoying and it appears Digital Leisure knew that this was an issue with the game as there is an autoplay feature. This will move cards for you to keep you from missing points or matches. Of course, this makes me wonder what’s the point of playing this as it takes a lot of the actual PLAYING THE GAME out of the title, but it’ll probably be a lot of help to younger gamers or people that somehow have never played Solitaire before.

All and all, it’s simple and easy to play. Just like any other Solitaire title.

Control and Gameplay Rating: 7/10

5. Replayability

Although Solitaire games are simple , you can get a lot of replay out of them. Just ask all those people that play it on their computer at work instead of doing their jobs! With five different versions of Solitaire in this game, you have five times the lack of productivity. Of course, you actually have to turn your Wii up and then load the WiiWare title in order to play it, so it won’t distract you from that report or spreadsheet you need to finish.

Each game plays quite differently and each time you play, it’s a different experience each time and there’s a reason tens of millions of people playing this game on a regular basis.

Replayability Rating: 9/10

6. Balance

Solitaire, no matter the version, is a game of chance. You can’t really control how the cards fall and sometimes, no matter how clever you are, this is what leads to your defeat rather than a mis-move on your part. It’s like Mahjong in that often you are trying to see how close you can get to win rather than winning itself.

There’s not a lot you can do to truly improve at these types of games save for card counting, and with versions like Spider Solitaire, even that can’t help you. No, these are games of chance that rely on your wits and eyes more than any true degree of skill, and that’s half the fun. The game does give you a few scoring and playing options, such as one or three card draw for Klondike or a timed version of each game. Hey, at least it’s something, right?

Balance Rating: 7/10

7. Originality

There’s already a ton of card game titles for the Wii, and for gaming in general. Everyone with a computer or a video game system has a Solitaire game already, if not other versions like FreeCell or Spider. More people have probably played electronic Solitaire than Super Mario Bros., and there’s nothing this game does that stands out form the many versions already out there. It’s simply a carbon copy you are paying for rather than getting for free.

Originality Rating: 1/10

8. Addictiveness

I made a joke earlier about how electronic Solitaire eats away at work productivity, but there are as many studies that show that this kills workplace productivity as there are ones that show it actually helps. Regardless which study you choose to believe in, it has long been proven that this is one of, if not THE, most addictive video game ever. Part of it may be that every computer has it and so it’s easy to get a hold of it, but the fact remains it’s hard to play just a single game of Solitaire, no matter the version. The same holds true here. I sunk more time than I expected to into Golf, playing thirty some round of it before taking a break. I’d never experienced this version of Solitaire and I actually had a lot of fun with it.

It just goes to show simple games are often the best.

Addictiveness Rating: 10/10

9. Appeal Factor

Solitaire is the most popular video game in the world and the most used computer application to boot. Everyone enjoys Solitaire, albeit to varying degrees. The question is not whether or not people will enjoy 5-in-1 Solitaire, but if they will pay for it, especially when every computer has one to three of the variants already on their computer. Personally, I could see paying for the DSiWare version, as maybe you have a desktop computer and not a laptop and you’d like to play when travelling. The Wii version? Not so much. It just doesn’t make sense to me to have this on my Wii when I can get the DSi version for only two dollars or play Solitaire on my computer for free. I can’t see a lot of people paying for this one, even if it is only five bucks.

Appeal Factor: 5/10

10. Miscellaneous

I’m not sure why Digital Leisure thought they could make money off Solitaire. I mean, in order to download 5-in-1 you need an internet connection. If you have an internet connection, you have a computer. If you have a computer, you have Solitaire. It’s pretty simple. Then the Wii version is $5 compared to the DSi’s $2 version? It just hurts my brain to see so many poor business decisions in one package. As fun as Solitaire can be, it’s almost always free. Why pay for something you can get for free. For the same price, you can get Digital Leisure’s Fast Draw Showdown which is a fun and highly original title you can’t a) get for free or b)can’t get on a computer. Support Digital Leisure in that way rather than paying for something you can already get for nothing.

Miscellaneous Rating: 1/10

The Scores
Modes: 5/10
Graphics: 4/10
Sound: 4/10
Control and Gameplay: 7/10
Replayability: 9/10
Balance: 7/10
Originality: 1/10
Addictiveness: 10/10
Appeal Factor: 5/10
Miscellaneous: 1/10
Total Score: 53

Short Attention Span Summary
5-in-1 Solitaire is a fun game to be sure, but it suffers from two big problems. The first is that you can generally get this game for free on any standard computer. The second is that you can get the exact same game for your DSi for only $2 instead of paying $5 for the WiiWare version. Both of these issues should keep anyone with the slightest degree of rational thinking from buying this. However, if you absolutely love Solitaire there are two versions of the game you usually can’t find on a computer, which are Golf and Gaps. Golf is a lot of fun, while Gaps is just stupid. If you want to pay a dollar per Solitaire mode, it’s not an awful deal – just an illogical ones for the reasons stated earlier.

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