Solitaire (WiiWare)

Game Review

Solitaire Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Sean Aaron

Loners rejoice!

It would be proper to regard any WiiWare program consisting of a game that's already pre-installed on every Windows PC in the universe as a complete waste of everyone's time. It would be about as pointless as releasing a poker game with rules for only one version of poker. The only way you could possibly justify putting out a virtual solitaire card game for the Wii would be to make it an impressive collection of solitaire games. Well that's exactly what publisher GameOn has done and it's certainly the most worthwhile card game collection on the Wii.

There are a full 18 games included in Solitaire including the immediately recognisable klondike, as well as canfield (this reviewer's personal favourite), yukon, spider, freecell (just for gran), golf and even pyramid. The interface for looking through the games is quite nice with each game being described on a virtual card: one side shows the game tableau and indicates its name and what family (type) of game it is. If you click the Stats button the card will flip over showing you how long a game it tends to be, the amount of skill involved and the odds of beating it via an icon rating system. The description cards can be flipped through by clicking on a slider and dragging it back and forth, clicking the arrows on either end or simply pressing left or right on the (DPAD). You can also sort the games according to any of the ratings or which games you've played the most and there's a tutorial on how the controls work generally. Each game has a "how to play" screen to read and many of the games allow you to change certain parameters to match your own preference, e.g., whether to have 1, 3 or unlimited redeals of the stock in a game of klondike, amongst many others.

Since the Wii pointer is a near-perfect analogue for a computer mouse, if you can play solitaire on your computer you'll be able to handle this. Use the remote to control an on-screen cursor, click (A) to select cards, hold (A) to grab them and move them (where applicable); double click (A) to make an automatic play where only one option is available, e.g. playing an ace on a foundation in klondike.

Flexibility in navigation is this collection's biggest strength. As noted above you can navigate through the game list in several ways and after starting a game you can access information and options in many ways as well. In addition to undo/redo arrows, you'll find an icon to call up the in-game menu and you can jump to specific submenus or information pages by clicking other icons on the playfield. If that wasn't enough you can also call up the in-game menu by pressing (2) and in every case flip through the options pages using the (DPAD) or clicking on-screen arrows with the pointer.

There are a wide variety of backgrounds and card backs to choose from. You can have pictures or textures for background with 17 choices each and one of 12 card backs. Music consists of 13 tracks that sound like electric jazz played by a Casio keyboard and a drum machine, but it's actually quite catchy. You can choose to play specific tracks, have them play randomly or even create a playlist of your favourites. Visually the game is quite crisp with large symbols for the suits on the card faces and everything is quite readable. Pressing + will zoom in the screen and allow you to pan about the playfield using the pointer if you really need to, but we didn't have any use for that. If a build has gotten too large to display at once the middle cards will get hidden, but you can move your cursor over them to uncompress the stack and flip through the cards if you need to see what's there.

Finally if your game is dragging on a bit you can choose to save and come back to it later. Four different profiles can be created to keep your solitaire stats separate from the rest of your household and each player will have their total wins and losses tracked against the number of games played.

There's very little to fault here. Sorting the game list keeps your relative position in the list rather than putting you at the beginning of it (so if you flipped to the fourth or fifth game before sorting against skill, you'll be looking at the fourth or fifth-ranked game according to skill after sorting the list) and if you lose a game there's no announcement of such, it just quietly records the loss in the background and then you need to make that realisation yourself and quit or start a new game. There's a hint system where some games will give you up to three hints by clicking the lightbulb icon in the lower right, but the barely noticeable purple flash that comes over a hinted card play is so subtle that you'll have to look hard to see it or assume there's no hints available! None of these problems takes away from the fact that this is a fine collection of card games for only 500 points that any fan of solo card games will enjoy.


It would be a mistake to dismiss Solitaire on the basis of it being a virtual card game alone. By creating a substantial collection of card games for solo play with solid controls; backed by an extensive navigation system, GameOn have managed to deliver a really terrific WiiWare offering that fans of patience and solitaire games should consider a must have.

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User Comments (37)



Burning_Spear said:

Nice job, Sean. In many forums, a game like this would be unceremoniously trashed simply because it is a card game, without any regard for its merits. The reviewer's job is to give everything an objective chance, and you really put a lot of care into this. Granted, it's not something I'd purchase, but I'm happy to see it's not another piece of shovelware. And I'm sure the people who are interested will be pleased to see a proper review, rather than a baseless bash job.



Sneaker13 said:

I didn't expect that. That's a great score and an interesting review. Still not going to get it though.



Bigby said:

I love solitaire games when I'm waiting to get my oil changed or some place I'm just trying to burn time. I'm having a hard time seeing myself playing it on the Wii.
Wow, if it comes to the US it might be one if the few Wiiware titles I'll pass on.



Raylax said:

Looks good. Might pick up a copy, and 500 points isn't a bad price point given the amount of content. I love Nintendo's Solitaire effort on DSi, I play it quite a lot on the bus too and from uni each day.



Terra said:

Wow, I was ready to completely dismiss this. Not at the top of my list but something I'll definitely consider in the future.



vakama94 said:

this is funny, a lot of people were dismissing this game completely and now that is has an 8 they might feel a little confused



Thomas_Joseph said:

No scantily clad anime girls? Sheesh, guess this won't be on the Top 25 list as long as Sexy Poker was. However, this appears to be a quality game, and for 500 points, I'll strongly consider it. What would have made it even better is if you could have had your own pictures serve as a background, or have your own music play.



skywake said:

I setup my brother-in-law's Wii and did the ambassador program thingo so he could get his 500 points. I went through a bunch of games but then he specifically asked for "a card game" so I reluctantly downloaded this for him....

I can't understate how much I was surprised that it actually looked quite good. Yet again I completely agree with yet another review on this site. This really is a hidden gem and the developer deserves a pat on the back for exceeding expectations... or maybe just the inevitable huge check they are going to get for making a Solitaire game.



sirgrim said:

Do you know how to get rescued from a deserted island? Start a game of Solitaire, an hour or so later someone will come up, tap you on the shoulder and say "that black 3 can go on the red 4". Ask them for a ride home.



WiiCool said:

8/10...seriously? For a basic set of card games? Don't get me wrong, I can see some (older) folks playing this, and it seems like an ok presentation. But again...8/10? That seems very lop-sided to me for one of the most simple game experiences on any computer/console. If I want to play boring "cards" I'll get my parents or my wife to play or perhaps I'll play it on my computer, but on the wii? uh....nope.



Adam said:

You know, with a real deck of cards, you can play these games and more.



Viper6391 said:

Well, I guess it's not a total waste, but I got to agree with Adam and Wiicool about just getting a regular deck of cards. Also, most of those solitaire games I already have on my computer for free and can play the others online. Still, I could see someone who likes these Solitaire games picking this up. If word search games can be released on Wiiware and Dsiware along with Sudoku then why not this. Personally, I think I'll just stick with regular Solitaire on my computer. At least this game is reasonably priced at 500 points.



Sean_Aaron said:

@WiiCool: I fail to see what difference the kind of game makes to the score. This is a well-constructed collection with a good presentation and is great value for money on top of it. I don't care what genre it is, if it's done well it deserves a good score.



Bass_X0 said:

I have 42 All Time Classics yet the game I play most of all on it is Solitaire.



Adam said:

The reason the genre matters is that all the game can offer theoretically, aside from fancy graphics (which does not look to be the case here aside from the menus) is limitations. With a real deck of cards, you can play millions more games anywhere you want. With a WiiWare collection, you pay more to play fewer games, alone, only at the TV. Not to mention pointing at the screen with the Wii remote constantly is not as comfortable or natural as moving cards with your hand.

And it's not like it's a multi-player card game where you at least get AI for when you're alone. It's solitaire. And it's not like it's a DSiWare game which at least offers you more portability (not that a deck of cards is hard to tote around, but electronically you can at least play in a car, etc.). Unless you just really, really, really suck at shuffling, I can't understand the point of this.

...not that I care about the score, as you know. I'm just hopping in the discussion because it's interesting. I can't help but wonder what motivates someone to buy something like this. To each his own and all that, I'm just curious.




I'd prefer to play card games on my ds 9/10 times and this is one of those times. I already have solitaire dsiware AND 42 All time classics solitaire. Still, if I didn't have a ds, this would be an insta-download no doubt. Good to read its been done with such polish. Its a million miles from shovel.

Good revw.



Thomas_Joseph said:

Adam, millions of card games? Really? And would those all those millions of games be playable alone? A deck of good playing cards is a couple of bucks. This game is a couple bucks more. Not really a deal breaker if you ask me, and who really carries a deck of cards in their pocket, in the off chance they'll play solitaire? Other than no one (never mind trying to find space to lay out a solitaire game in public). If you're playing solitaire, you're most likely at home ... the very same domicile that houses your Wii. Fancy that!




Solitaire surely is almost exclusively played "electronically". Its a given that'll you'd eventually get a wiiware game for it.



Adam said:

I see, Thomas, but while I never said that every card game is playable alone, many of them are (many more than offered here). And are you really going to fault a pack of cards for having more options than this game? Last I checked, the ability to play alone or with others was generally considered a good thing. Fancy that!

And you seem to have misunderstood the point about the portability issue, which was in defense of portable electronic versions. Handheld versions can validate themselves by offering the game on the go. A Wiiware version offers nothing you can't already do with a pack of cards.

But that's not to say there aren't some small portability benefits to a deck of cards, anyway. You can play it in any room of your house, not just the one where you have a TV and Wii. So if someone is playing a game or watching TV and you want to play solitaire, just go to the kitchen table, or better yet sit outside if the weather is nice. Can't exactly do that with your WiiWare. Plus, you can bring a deck of cards to a friend's house to play other games, while this game is limited only to solitaire and only to your personal Wii.

You can certainly afford a deck of cards and this game, but really, what's the point? You can do everything the Wii game offers and much, much more with a deck of cards for half the price. Just to reiterate so I don't seem more a jerk than I actually am (is that even possible? ), I've nothing against the review, game, score, or people like the game. It is just a curiosity.



Feld0 said:

Am I the only one that thinks that menu looks remarkably similar to iTunes' Cover Flow?

And, btw, this looks nice and all, but it would be FAR better suited to the DSi. After all, how many people honestly sit down in front of the Wii, thinking, "I wanna play some Solitaire!"



Token_Girl said:

I think this would be worthwhile on my DSi, but I'd rather just play all these games for free on my laptop at home. Glad it's well done. It's also nice to see they've put in lots of backgrounds and decks, and they're not going the "rip you off DLC" route so many games are doing now by making you pay for stuff like that which would have been free originally (and still is on free PC versions). Good for them.



Sean_Aaron said:

The main draw for me personally would be that despite owning both a regular hardback copy of Hoyle's and a smaller paperback version dedicated to solitaire and patience games I just couldn't be bothered to learn many of these (canfield and klondike are the only games I can be bothered to play with a regular deck; more likely the former since I'll be playing on a flight with limited table space). Having the game deal out the tableau and enforce the rules makes these more interesting and I like the fact that it tracks win/loss and provides a score of sorts in the form of coins.

That's really the big value add. This could easily have been a throwaway release, even including all the variants, but the slickness of the interface and ease of use were really quite a surprise.

Now if Gameloft released a game called "Poker" that did the same thing rather than release a mediocre casino game with cutsey graphics I would welcome that as well.



theblackdragon said:

if i'm ever in the market for a solitaire card game on wiiware, i'll know what to get. thanks, Sean. :3

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