Author Harv Laser by sofiaie


									Author Harv Laser
Product Name Astraware Solitaire
Company ToySoft
Company URL
Tested with Sprint Treo 700p
Price $19.95

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Frontpage Brief Summary
Astraware busts out with another series of games all built into one SD-friendly app.
This time the theme is Solitaire, and with twelve different games in one, this new
release from the makers of Hidden Expedition: Titanic really packs a wallop for its
tiny tag.

GUI Aesthetics 5
Usability 5
Functionality 4
Value 5
Overall 5

<li>Vivid, beautiful, realistic graphics.
<li>Set game difficulty and options globally, or by individual game.
<li>Includes 12 different Solitaire games.
<li>Gives hints, and has options to auto-highlight moves.
<li>Multitude of options for each game.
<li>Lives happily on your SD card.

<li>Idiot’s Delight is largely unplayable.

<b>Astraware Solitaire</b>

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Killing time, without spending tons of money can be a real trick in these days where
simply going out for a bowl of Fettuccini Alfredo costs $14 or when ordering a hot
pastrami sets you back a mind-blowing ten clams. That’s why, as ancient as they are,
one-player solitaire card games remain hot and popular even in these days of massive on-
line games and 3-D shooters.
As you may know from my previous reviews of [Astraware’s
Casino](, [Board Games
Pack]( and [Hidden
Expedition]( games, they make
the most banging and beautiful games for your Treo available today, all of which are
packed with hundreds of hours of play time and challenge, or simple amusement.

Astra’s new [Solitaire
(AWS)]( game is no
exception, as it includes twelve different games all in one 1.8MB app that lives snugly on
your SD card. Optionally, there are several additional holiday and seasonal themed card
designs that you may download as expansions, which hibernate on your SD card, saving
valuable internal RAM.

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The main interface of ASW resembles their last two multi-game titles, with a large wheel
of rotating games from which you may select the current style of solitaire that you wish
to play. Once in a game, there are both menus and buttons to perform nearly every
function, including a <b>hint</b> button for those tricky moments and a button to
review the pop-up game instructions.

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You may opt to highlight all legal moves, or turn one touch operation, which initiates a
legal move by double tapping a card, on or off. You can also change the difficulty
settings and game options both globally, or on a basis of game type. Thus, you may have
different settings for Klondike than for Spider or Pyramid. The game also has a
<b>peek</b> function so that you may cheat and look at otherwise hidden cards.

As with AW’s other programs, AWS gives out awards, this time in the form of special
cards. Yes, you guessed it, there are 52 awards, and the game taunts you to collect them
all, for when you do you can unlock a special bonus “Golden” deck.

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Additionally, as with their other titles, AWS always saves your individual game sessions
(for each solitaire game) both when you exit that game to switch to another, or exit the
program entirely. Therefore, you can always pick up where you left off without worrying
when your boss comes into the room, so you can pretend to be working.

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<b>Klassical Klondike</b>

Klondike is, by and far, the most commonly known solitaire game. It’s been part of
Microsoft Windows for ages, and it’s included on many other computers and gadgets, bot
to mention played for money in Vegas casinos. If you’ve been hiding somewhere for the
last decade and haven’t played this game, the essential formulae is that you must stack
cards in order of rank, alternating between red and black suits until all the cards both in
the playing field (tableau) to the stock piles on the top. You do this until you clear away
all the cards in both the tableau and deck, or until you run out of legal moves, in which
case you lose.

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Freecell operates similarly, but instead of simply moving alternating cards from the
tableau to the stock, you must arrange four piles of cards in the tableau and then shift
them to the stock in suit. This version of the game is considerably more difficult,
although it gives you additional working space to stick unwanted cards until you may
make proper use of them.

If it isn’t hard enough already, you may opt to use two decks, thus increasing the
difficulty and tine to play exponentially.

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Spider resembles Freecell on its surface, but instead of using all fpur suits, Spider uses a
customizable number of suits and decks, allowing you to work purely by rank (the value
of each card) and set your own pace. Spider also strips away the additional spaces of
Freecell, just to cut away a bit of your edge and involves a considerable amount of luck,
as unlike Freecell, where all the cards start in the tableau, Spider spews out more cards as
the game progresses.

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In Calculation, you need to shift cards in mathematical sets, the first being A-K (the ones
pile), followed by 2-Q+A-K in even and odd segments (the counting-in-twos pile). After
that, we count in threes (e.g. 3, 6, 9, Q, 2, 5, 8, J, A, 4, 7, K) and finally a pile counted in
fours. Whew!
This is one of the most mentally taxing solitaire games and requires a great deal of
planning and, as its namesake suggests, calculation. Try this one when you have plenty of
free time and mental energy, as it consumes both rapidly.

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Golf is a fast-paced and easy game that simply requires you to shift cards from the
tableau back into the deck via the discard pile. One-by-one, you must select cards to add
to the discard pile fro the tableau, which you may add in ascending or descending value.
This, you can place an eight on a seven, then play an eight <b>off of</b> that seven,
followed by another eight, or a six. Get it?

While winning the game is highly dependant on how AWS deals up the tableau, you have
to exercise some amount of skill in what cards you choose to play and in what order you
play them. Therefore, you must employ a degree of chess-like forward thinking to win
with any degree of certainty.

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<b>Idiot’s Delight</b>

This is probably the silliest of all the solitaire games in Astra’s package, and is entirely
luck-driven, requiring as much skill to operate as a soda can, or possibly less. It sounds
easy: all you must do to win is remove all cards except Aces from the tableau to the
discard pile. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to do so in the given space, so you’ll
likely play a few dozen games or so before winning even one.

To make things worse, according to the instructions, you can only move cards to the
discard pile when the card you are moving is both the same suit and of lower rank than
the card showing in the discard pile. Unfortunately, the game play doesn’t seem to follow
the rules at all, and valid moves seem to be (at best) random and aggravating.

Although the game is entirely new to me, from the instructions given by the program, I
think there is some bug or broken function that isn’t allowing me to, for example, move a
six of diamonds onto a seven of diamonds, but will allow me to move a trey of diamonds
instead. On top of that, the instructions don’t explain how to move cards of differing
suites, though I was able to shift a jack of clubs onto a trey of hearts for some
inexplicable reason.

When you come right down to the line, Idiot’s Delight is exactly as its name implies.

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Canfield is an easy game in which, you must build four stock piles from the cards in
order of King, then A-Q. On the left is a stack of 13 random cards from which you may
play, and a deck that from which you may draw. The object of the game is to clear all the
cards by playing the cards both from the tableau and from the pile, which requires
coordinated thinking and a small degree of luck.

Thankfully, you can opt to draw from the deck in easy mode, which flops one card at a
time, until you get used to the game play, after which you may flop up to there cards.
Because of its diversity and ease of play, Canfield with its devilish icon may easily
become your new favorite solitaire game.

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Here’s another game that I’ve never seen before: Clock, which like Idiot’s Delight
entirely revolves around luck, is easy to play, but thankfully, easier to win. In this solitair
game, you have to place cards according to rank on their matching “hours” on the clock.
Jacks and Queens represent 11 and 12 respectively, but Kings (or 13s) are bad news. You
have to complete the clock, thus removing all the other cards in play before you reveal all
four Kings, or else you lose.

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<b>Four Seasons</b>

In Four Seasons, you not only have to remove all the carss from play, but the order in
which you do so is determined by the rank dealt to the “seasons”. The playing tableau
consists of five playing fields in a cross shape, and the four seasons in the corners. You
may build stacks of cards into the tableau piles in descending order of alternating suite,
and then place cards into their appropriate seasons in suit, in ascending order.

Although it isn’t too treacherous to play, it requires a lot of luck to win. Because of the
lack of legal moves, the game requires little planning, although once you get used to its
oddball rules, it becomes simpler. You may also change the number of re-deals from one
to two, three or (my favorite), unlimited.

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This game plays almost identically to Klondike, except that instead of using a deck for a
stock pile, the game deals all the cards as hidden cards that you must uncover.
Thankfully, you may shift stacks of cards around using nay card in their tier, rather than
having to shift only sequential stacks as in Klondike.
Thus, if you have a stack of “6, K, Q, J, 10”, you may move it onto a pile with a 7
showing, as only the topmost card counts. This makes the game a little easier than
Klondike to win, but slightly more confusing because of the sheer volume of legal moves.
Nonetheless, Yukon is probably the second most popular game in the package and you’re
probably going to find yourself playing it for hours.

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<b>Sultan’s Harem</b>

In this unusual 2-deck game, you must surround the King of Hearts with all eight queens,
thus completing the <b>harem</b> using the four foundation piles. Nearby the
foundations are four reserve piles, plus the deck and discard pile. This is another luck-
based game, that is easy to play and win, and given the numerous piles in which you can
slam cards, easy to finagle.

Actually, as far as I can see, it’s impossible to lose this game, so have fun with it when
you are bored silly, as its essential component is simply free time.

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The last game in the AWS line-up is Pyramid, yet another game of luck, but this time it’s
extremely hard to win, though nowhere near as impossible as “Idiot’s”. In this unusual
title, you have to remove all the cards from the board by selecting two of them at a time,
for which the total value of the pair must be 13. You can use cards from the waste pile
and a pyramid card, or two pyramid cards, but you can’t use two cards out of the waste to
do so. Kings have an assigned value of 13 and thus you remove them signally, and aces
are always one.

This game reminds me of the 9-Ball touchscreen video game you often see in bars, eating
up pocket change and requires a bit of forethought when making moves. With the right
planning and a degree of luck, you can win more often. You can also pump up the re-
deals if you want a higher edge.

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Regardless which game you play, AW slaps a big, honking <b>Customize</b> button
right on the title screen for each one, you can easily twiddle the rules and game settings to
match your mood and level of skill (or luck factor) whenever the mood takes you. All the
games end with a snazzy “flying cards” animation, and the graphics are all clean, crisp,
and simply striking all around.
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In closing, Astraware’s Solitaire builds upon their already rich foundation for extremely
high quality and high-value games that look sharp and behave themselves, while using as
few system resources as possible. This game is definitely a gem that will maintain its play
vs. pay ratio for a long time to come.

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