Release Date: 03/15/09
It seems like the term “Casual Gamer”Â is thrown around a lot recently. Microsoft courting people who are afraid of controllers with their new Project Natal, Nintendo with the Wii. Different companies stretching to find new methods of controlling games so that people who are normally not interested in video games try them out.
In reality the casual audience has always been playing video games. No matter who you are and where you are from, someone you know has played Solitaire. It’s on nearly every computer out there. It remains a classic because it uses a simple interface, it’s easy to understand the objective, and is just difficult enough to feel rewarding. Plus it doesn’t take very long to play. Hell, PopCap knows that lesson well enough; it’s why that company excels in creating such addictive games.
Fairie Solitaire is another game that continues that tradition of a game that’s simple, but does just enough to draw a player in to keep on going.
There is a story mode in the game that frames the gameplay. However that story is barely noticeable, fairly generic and totally forgettable. There are some fairies in different lands that you have to go around and rescue by completing different hands of Solitaire. Doesn’t make much sense but it’s not like the story in games like this matter very much.
The positive thing about the story mode is the sheer amount of content in it. With over 40 levels and 400 different combinations of hands to play through, it certainly will take the average person quite a long time to see the story all the way through till the end. Each level has ten different card layouts, with one overall objective to meet in order to pass the level. Most of the objectives are so simple that they are easy to clear in the first couple of hands, which makes the remaining ones feel sort of pointless, though they are fun to play through anyway.
Graphically the game has a nice artistic design to it and looks good. I know it probably isn’t saying much, but it’s the best looking Solitaire game I’ve ever played. The art design is consistent through the cards and menus and everything looks sharp and clear.
The background music and sound effects fit the game well, but aren’t anything special and for longer gameplay sessions you might want to boot up some music to have something else in the background.
The game is different from the usual form of Solitaire. In each hand there are still stacks of cards across the top of the screen that descend downwards with the cards nearest the bottom of the rows flipped over. At the bottom of the screen there is a deck with a certain amount of cards with one flipped over face up to the right of it. The point of Fairie Solitaire is to stack cards on top of the flipped over one on the bottom of the screen that are either one number higher or lower than that card. Suits or card colors don’t matter. Moving an exposed card from the screen reveals the card underneath it. If you get stuck then you can use the stock deck on the bottom of the screen to flip over another card. However once all of the cards from that stock are gone, it’s game over.
The point is to remove all of the cards in the main screen from play. The more cards you can stack the higher combo you can build which grants point bonuses. There’s actually a surprising amount of strategy involved in the whole thing. You need to plan which cards to stack in order to gain the largest combo, or to just prevent from losing the hand. The game adds things every few levels to further mix up the strategy, such as plant vines which are linked with certain cards so that you have to remove them in a certain order. Or frozen cards that can only be revealed when thawed from clearing a card with fire behind it and so one.
Playing well earns the player money which can be used to buy bonuses that can help with strategy, such as buying an item that will allow the player an ability to see the next top down card from the main stack of cards, or granting an extra undo ability. There is also the strange addition of pets. You can find eggs under cards sometimes, and when you get the required items you can hatch and evolve those pets, but they appear to have absolutely no effect on the gameplay. Even if they’re for show, it give an extra incentive to continue playing and hopefully find the items your pet needs.
In order to beat a level you have to complete a goal, and for most of the levels it is something extremely simple, such as getting a specific card combo or by earning a set amount of money during a hand. I really wish the had been more difficult than they are however, there’s just little challenge to a significant portion of the Story mode. Even if you lose nine out of ten of the hands on a level it’s not hard to advance merely because you got a six card combo.
Between some of the different ways levels restrict which cards can and can’t be removed in addition to the abilities that can be unlocked to give the player bonuses the gameplay remains simple to use, but strategic enough to be interesting and feel like you accomplished something when you clear a level. This is the main area where the game exceeds because it’s sort of addictive to pick up, play and then find yourself hooked into just doing one more level.
Other than the story mode and the pets, there’s also a mode that allows you to play any hand of any level you have already played though, and a challenge mode with tougher restrictions for people like me who thought the objective of the Story mode were a little too easy. Still these modes felt a little basic, and it would’ve been nicer to see more variations on the style of gameplay. As good as the game might be, there are cheap games of Solitaire out there that contain dozens of different types of Solitaire. This version is a slightly different variation of the game Golf Solitaire. There are 400 different hands to play, but it’s still just the same gametype 400 times over. The lack of variety hurts the game after a few hours.
Still, Fairie Solitaire is a solid Solitaire game with well done production values from an independent developer. It’s fun, simple and addictive to play. I don’t think it’s technically worth the $20 price point, but that’s a person preference. If you’re looking for a good card game to pick up and play, you could do a lot worse than Fairie Solitaire. Right now you can purchase the game for less than half the original price for $6.99 however, which is a much better deal for the amount of time you can spend with this game.
Graphics: Very Good
Balance: Above Average
Final Score: VERY GOOD GAME
Short Attention Span Summary:
Fairie Solitaire is just a fun card game to kill time with. I wish there had been a little more variety and maybe more imagination used to create some more modes. However there is a lot of content in the game and is an amazingly professional job from an independent developer.