5 in 1 Solitaire Review
Posted by Desiree Turner
Tethered to a television is not the way to play
Just like sudoku, crossword puzzles, word searches, and other public-domain fare as WiiWare, Digital Leisure's 5-in-1 Solitaire will have you tied down in front of a television after having plunked down your Nintendo Points for games available for free on the internet or, worse yet, that came pre-installed on your computer. You can easily bust out your own deck of cards and play these games in any room of the house you please, too, which also bears mentioning. Europe already has Solitaire available, which features 18 different types of solitaire (including four of the five featured in this game), as well as more music to choose from and deck customization to be had, all for the same 500 Points. If you are in Europe, definitely skip 5-in-1 Solitaire if/when it hits your shores. North American players, read on.
This is the exact same game as the DSiWare version, only with slightly different graphics and Wii Remote-based controls. Most of your game will be spent pointing, clicking and dragging cards around depending on which particular game you're playing. As described in the title, there are five different solitaire games available for play: Klondike, FreeCell, Spider, Golf and Gaps. Click one of the available icons to be taken to that particular game's menu, where you may start a new game, run through a short 'how to play' tutorial, or set the game's options. The tutorials walk you through how to play the type of solitaire in question by having you play out a round under the game's watchful eye. Though at times it may seem that the game is asking you to perform an action that would either break the rules of the game or that you'd be better off making a different move, the tutorial will not progress until you've done exactly as it asks (chances are it's trying to prove a point somehow). The text is a little stilted, but hands-on tutorials are far preferable to plain old dry text any day if you're playing a new type of solitaire for the very first time. Should you be interested in a little reminder about a particular rule in the game, however, the manual does not include any plain-text instructions, so make sure you pay attention unless you'd like to repeat the tutorials later on to get the information you need.
As for available options, each game has only a few, but they're key for basic solitaire enjoyment. Klondike allows you to choose between drawing one or three cards at once, for example, and Spider allows you to define the number of suits present in the game. All five games allow you to choose whether you'd like to be timed or not, and both Klondike and FreeCell allow you to toggle AutoPlay on or off, which progresses games more quickly by automatically pulling cards to the foundation piles for you. AutoPlay in the WiiWare version is slower than the DSiWare version, giving you more time to see where your cards are coming from and where they're going.
The game plays just like you'd expect a solitaire game to play. Klondike, FreeCell, and Spider have you clicking, dragging, and dropping your cards around the tableau, but if you're going too fast the game may not quite register your moves properly. Just take it slow and try to be as precise as possible while picking a card to move around, especially if you're trying to pick up a stack of multiple cards. In Golf and Gaps, just click whichever card you'd like to move and the game automatically moves that card to the waste pile or wherever it needs to be next. If ever you make a mistake, simply click the 'undo' icon in the upper right area of the screen to go back to the previous step; you may undo up to five of your most recent moves in this manner. Undoing a move counts as another move in and of itself, so you may find yourself with a somewhat inflated move-count at the end of the game.
The game records the number of moves made as well as your score during a game of solitaire, and once you've won a game your totals will be displayed. For users who like to keep track of their best game information, a running tally of wins and losses is kept under each game's menu, as well as your best score and lowest number of moves. If you lose a game because you run out of moves, it won't be held against you as a loss in your statistics. The + button brings up the pause menu, where you may choose to start a new game, quit while saving your game in progress, or quit without saving. You may have one game saved for each of the five different modes of play at any given time.
The graphics in this version suffer from being too realistic. The cards are designed to look like actual playing cards, complete with tiny suit symbols on them and tiny numbers in the corners that are fuzzy on a standard TV. There will be times you'll attempt to place one card onto another only to find that you've made a mistake regarding the exact numbers on the cards involved. Why Digital Leisure didn't copy the same card design from the DSiWare version (featuring large numbers and suit symbols for easy reading) is a mystery, though two of the same decorative card decks are available amongst the four to choose from under the main Options menu. The sounds are different as well. Where the music is a relatively inoffensive, laid-back loop in the DSiWare version, here it's an upbeat loop of pop-ish music that quickly becomes boring, though the other sound effects - moving cards and running your pointer over clickable items - are soft and pleasing to the ear. Don't bother reaching for your TV remote, though, as they've included the ability to set the volume of the background music and the sound effects under the main Options menu.
5-in-1 Solitaire as WiiWare is the opposite of its DSiWare counterpart in that there's already a superior solitaire title on the service for the same price - if you're in Europe, anyway. For everyone else, the featured flavors of solitaire are decently represented here, though the music is bland and the detail on the cards is fuzzy on a standard TV, leaving you unwittingly attempting to make wrong moves. There's also the fact that for the price of your 500 Points you could easily purchase either an actual deck of cards or the DSiWare version twice over, both options allowing you to play solitaire absolutely anywhere your little heart desires as opposed to being stuck in front of a TV. If your computer's pre-installed solitaire just isn't enough for you somehow and you're desperate for a game, go ahead and pick this up, but otherwise you won't miss out on much by giving this game a pass.