Faerie SolitaireOne of the first Windows-based computer games I played was Golf solitaire. I can’t figure out how such a simple game could be so addicting even years later. I bore easily with repetition, but not with Golf. And the game has received some amazing interpretation into adventures including Faerie Solitaire.

The story told in Adventure mode makes little sense even though the game delivers most of it in small bites. So I won’t even go into what it’s about. I’m not sure myself. But the game more than makes up for it.

First, here how the Golf solitaire works: You take cards off the table that are one up or one down from the card in the pile. So if your pile card shows a king. You look for any open aces or queens (they can’t have a card on top of them). Let’s say you find an ace, put that on top of the king.

Now you need either a king or two. Keep taking cards off the foundation until you have no more moves. Then take another card from the stock pile and repeat. Clear the table for a perfect game, a goal you’ll need to reach in order to move on in some levels.

Every level consists of nine rounds of solitaire and has its own goals. You need to reach those goals by the time you finish the nine games. If not, you’ll replay the level. Otherwise, you move on to the next location (it’s that story thing again). Goals can be X number of perfect games, X amount of cash, fill purple meter within X minutes or make X moves in a row (without taking a card from the stock pile). You get cash for every play you make.

Of course, you’ll have power ups and barriers to keep Faerie Solitaire — but not so much that it becomes a confusing mess. Every now and then you’ll get a bonus card between 1 and 10. You can use these cards like you do when you take a new card from the stock pile except these won’t restart your “moves in a row” number so use these cards wisely.

Some columns won’t budge because they’re locked in by a thorn. To unlock the thorn column, you need to clear out the column that has a rose over it. Same goes for frozen cards. You need to clear the cards in front of the fiery one so you can use it to melt the frozen cards, which are always face down.

When you clear a column, you might find a surprise. It could be an egg or one of three elements that you need to evolve your new pet. Eggs appear randomly throughout the game. Finishing Adventure mode won’t ensure you find all the eggs. That’s where the replay value comes in. You’ll want to replay the different modes so you can uncover more eggs.

You can buy special power ups from Faerie Land and visit the Hatchery to hatch your found eggs. Once hatched, the creatures are babies. Each creature has a required amount of elements you need to collect to be able to evolve them. The creatures on the lower end require fewer elements than those on the higher end. It’s not clear what it takes to evolve a creature because I’ve collected the things it needs, but it’s not evolved right away. Nonetheless, it’s still a fun and cool feature.

Special power ups give you another undo (undo the last move), help your pets evolve faster, see the next card in the deck, reveal more cards on the table and so on.

I never once replay a level in Adventure mode. It was a breeze for the most part. The hard part doesn’t come in until near the end and when you unlock and play the five challenge levels. Now those called for a lot of replay until I could beat them. You can also replay any level.

The game had one annoying bug that comes and goes. When you start a new level, it needs to give you the objectives. Sometimes it pops up on the screen before you play and others nothing happen. You can always access the objectives by going to the menu. The game should let you view the objectives without leaving the game.

This is not a lazy game. Golf solitaire requires some planning ahead. Faerie Solitaire with its added barriers and extras calls for more strategy than a basic game of Golf. Although the graphics aren’t impressive and the story pointless, the game had me hooked for the entire weekend and it’s become one of my favorite solitaire games. I still want to play because I want to find the rest of the eggs. But beyond that, I’ll have to move on to another game — but that’s part of a reviewer’s job.

Download Faerie Solitaire.


Quick Review Slingo Quest Hawaii

Popular game Slingo Quest returns for a different destination. In Slingo Quest Hawaii, the game takes on a (what else?) Hawaiian theme. In the bingo slash slot machine game, players try to match numbers in a row while earning power ups, jokers, tricks, and bonuses to help them along the way.

Players travel from island to island in Quest mode similar to many of the time management games where trails contain dots indicating your progress. Classic Plus mode works like arcade mode where players repeatedly play the game.

The game relies on luck and little else to get Slingo, five matches in a row. However, you win bonuses for making patterns and clearing the board. The hardest part is clicking the numbers, picking power ups, and using tricks. Otherwise, the game takes little effort. Those who like Slingo Quest will delight playing this tropical edition since it contains more of the original plus new features.

New features include:

  • Tricks that come with powers you can use before spinning.
  • Game modes including Speed Slingo, Volcano Slingo, and Special Shape Boards (The game comes with two different game modes: Classic and Quest. These modes occur as you play).
  • Power ups such as Power up Vision (see through the numbers), Power Shots for matching five cells in one shot, and Tiki Jokers that create Slingo from one match.
  • Collection of Hawaiian postcards (also known as trophies).

Let me share a lesson I learned the hard way when using Super Jokers first so you don’t waste them like I did. Super Jokers can clear any number on the grid whether they’re in the same column or not while Jokers can only clear items in the same column. The first click applies the Super Joker (unless the number is one of the selected numbers) before applying any Jokers.

The game starts slow, but picks up as players gain more surprises, beautiful scenes, and bonuses. With so many features and power ups, it takes time to learn how things work. Furthermore, the game play changes — so avoid taking any plays for granted. Give the time time — it should start kicking in before the free hour is up. Slingo Quest Hawaii is a vacation for the entire family and it only costs a few bucks not hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Note: Quick reviews are based on playing one hour of the game.


Fairway Solitaire PC Game Review

Fairway SolitairePlaying sports was my thing while growing up, but it was mainly team sports like softball, basketball, volleyball, and soccer. However, I took a few classes or lessons in single player sports like gymnastics, golf, and tennis. Golf just didn’t fit me as holding a club felt awkward. Maybe it was because it was too different from holding a bat. But one golf game that I played numerous times was the card version.

I couldn’t believe I never got bored playing basic solitaire golf that came with Windows in the mid-’90s. I even loaded the game on my Palm handheld and played that for a long time. Since then, I got too busy to play the solitaire game.

Furthermore, after becoming a game reviewer, I didn’t have the luxury of sticking with a game for a long time. Whenever I played a game past my bedtime indicated a sign that a game was a hit and I blamed Fairway Solitaire for my recent tiredness.

The basic game isn’t good enough today. Most of your favorites probably have newer versions containing power ups, trophies, and other bonuses. Solitaire golf receives the same treatment.

The power ups show up in the golf shop. As you play each hole, you earn bucks to use in the golf shop for power ups. For a female golfer, buying a skirt provides her with the ability to x-ray a card to see through it.

The set up cards also contain hazards and bonuses. Because of these, you may not play golf the way you would when playing old-fashioned solitaire golf. Different situations call for different strategies, and that could mean sacrificing a long drive for a short one. A long drive occurs when you pick up at least six cards in a row without drawing a card from the pile, which drives up the multiplier and money pot.

Along the way, you can pick up irons and use mulligans. An iron has a number between one and nine. How a iron works: If there’s a card with an 8 on the board and the golf bag contains a 7 iron, pull it out so you can grab the 8. Mulligans let you undo the last move. Beware that the game only lets you use one mulligan at a time.

Fairway SolitaireCards that contain a water hazard appear with a light blue shade. When you play these cards, the animation and experience match the feel of a water hazard. Cards in a sand trap won’t flip over until you find the wedge. So instead of making a long drive, you target the cards blocking the wedge to open the sand trap cards.

Although a tutorial explains the game and the different types of cards, it may not click right away. The best way to learn the game is just play it. A hole ends when you either clear the board or run out of cards in the draw pile.

When you begin a round, a positive number appears in the box on the lower left corner of the screen. As you remove each card from the board, the number shrinks. Just like in the game of golf: The lower the number, the better the score. Thankfully, a game with a par 7 goes onto the scorecard as par 5 (the maximum). When the score falls below par, it means more cash.

The end of a hole shows the statistics for that hole including the longest drive, time taken, long drive multiplier, and the cash earned. The scorecard tracks the score for all nine rounds. Players earn bonuses for low scores and successfully completing courses, which unlocks more courses and there are 70 courses available.

As for the Wild Shot mini-game, I wouldn’t call it that. The mini-game is too mini (oxymoron?). You can either play the shot or drop it and lose $200. Playing Wild Shot could lead to either good or bad results. Select “play” to flip the images and select “stop” to stop the images. What happens next depends on whatever image appears. You could lose cards, try to put for a hole-in-one, lose or win money, or gain an extra mulligan. Though I’m not crazy about Wild Shot, it surprisingly contains many possibilities. After playing the game for a couple of days, I continue to discover new possibilities. This is the only handicap of Fairway Solitaire.

Well, the game may have one other mini-game, if you call it that. An optional course appears every few course. Rather than playing it like the others, it’s timed play. If you clear the board before time runs out, the game awards bonus points. A long drive also adds a few seconds to the clock. It makes me cuckoo, but it’s also a nice change of pace.

Fairway SolitaireAs a package, Fairway Solitaire offers everything for a grand old time including great cartoon-style graphics, lively music, and addicting play. That’s why it earns fore and one-half stars. Lousy golfers like me have a chance to be winners in golf using cards instead of clubs as our weapon.

Typically after completing a review, I move on to the next game. Not this time. I must play more Fairway Solitaire!

Download and try Fairway Solitaire.

System Requirements

  • Windows Vista, XP, 2000
  • 800 MHz minimum
  • 256 MB RAM
  • DirectX 6.0 or later
  • 54 MB hard drive space

Mahjongg Artifacts, Chapter 2Solitaire mahjongg today looks nothing like its older counterpart from 10 years ago. Back then, the biggest features were the variety of themed tile sets and the graphics. Now they come with stories, different modes of play, power ups, and other twists. Mahjongg Artifacts, Chapter 2 follows Mahjongg Artifacts’ footsteps in providing a quest mode that occurs in five countries. Well, actually, four countries and one virtual place.

In Quest mode, you go on a — what else? — quest to find a friend. A level consists of a full solitaire game, but it doesn’t require clearing the board to succeed. The level ends when you find the two matching golden tiles. Power ups, hints, undo, and shuffle help you along the way. The game works like any other mahjongg game in that you make pairs. As you make matches, you earn pearls.

Rather than freely giving players all the hints, undo, and shuffle they want, players must purchase them with pearls, which are the game’s bread, dough, moolah, lolly, loot, dinero, or whatever you call money. Add the power ups to mix and the game keeps players hopping. Instead of spending mucho pearls on shuffle, watch for power ups that swap tiles, move a tile to the top, and shuffle a small section of tiles, among others.

Mahjongg Artifacts, Chapter 2 Upon finding the two golden tiles, the game cuts to the comic book style scene with a story update. The well-drawn scenes have an anime look and feel. The story could use a smoother transition from start to end and provide more details. Furthermore, the story is incomplete and ends abruptly. The good news is that it doesn’t take much away from Quest mode thanks to the travels, tiles, and artifacts. Artifacts hide in every level, but the artifacts don’t tie in tightly with the story as they could have.

After spending five levels in a country, players move on to the next. Most countries are in Europe and Asia with one in an unknown place. A new country means experiencing a new theme of tiles and a welcome change of pace. With 25 levels in all, the Quest could go on a little longer. I’d trade Endless mode for a longer quest. Hey, I’ll even trade Classic mode for a longer trek.

Since there are five countries, there are five tile themes. Each one is lovely, but sometimes it’s hard to tell what goes with what. Mahjongg players know that some pairs don’t have to be identical like the flowers and seasons. With themes, it isn’t easy to figure these out. The same goes for the power ups. I think using tooltips would help.

Mahjongg Artifacts, Chapter 2The game awards trophies, which pumps the players’ egos and motivates them to keep on. These rely on tooltips, but sometimes they don’t pop up without some effort. My eyes are thankful for the feature that reveals open tiles so I don’t spend a lot of time trying to find them. OK, so this is a shortcut or cheating perhaps, but more games await my eyes for reviewing. They need a break!

Download and try Mahjongg Artifacts and Mahjongg Artifacts, Chapter 2.

System Requirements: Windows

  • Windows 2000/XP/Vista
  • Pentium 3 800 MHz or faster processor
  • 256 MB RAM
  • DirectX 8.0 MB or later

Astraware Solitaire PDA Game Review

Astraware SolitaireWith so many solitaire games out there for computers and handhelds, you’d think, “Enough already!” Astraware didn’t let the thought of a crowded market stop them and it was a winning move as Astraware Solitaire hit a Blackjack.

The company earned my respect years ago and continued to keep it with its releasing high quality games for the small screen. Astraware Solitaire comes with 12 games, ranging from the easy to hard and from takes skill to relies on luck. Some take a long time to play while others are fast. So points awarded for variety.

If you’re not familiar with a game, the main screen lets you know the difficulty, chances of winning, time it takes to play, and whether it takes luck and/or skill. Games include the following:

Calculation, Canfield, Clock, Four Seasons, Freecell, Golf, Idiot’s Delight, Klondike, Pyramid, Spider, Sultan’s Harem, and Yukon.

Astraware SolitaireEvery game comes with customizable options such as how many calls to deal, how many redeals, and how to build fondations. If you don’t know what these means, tap “i” for more information. Astraware Solitaire offers plenty of help in explaining every game.

When you win games and do certain things, you also earn Trophy Cards (like badges). Trophys will eventually unlock additional backgrounds and deck card backgrounds. Go in the Trophy Room from the Main Menu to see the collected trophies and the uncollected trophies. When you complete a full Trophy Desk, it unlocks the deck for use in games. Very cool feature.

It looks like Astraware has every possible useful feature a solitaire card game can have including statistics. The statistics shows total time played, number of games, average time per game, wins, losses, longest winning and losing streaks, and current streak. Statistics are also available for each card game. With all these features, it’s amazing how fast the game runs.

Astraware SolitaireExcellent solitaire package. It’s customizable, gives awards, and comes with unlockables. If you buy just one, you should be more than happy with this one. Astraware Solitaire is available for Pocket PCs, Smartphones and PalmOS PDAs.

As usual, you may try before you buy. Trial users may play up to 20 new games in any combination of the different solitaire types on offer. Additionally, unlockables (card/background graphics/trophies) may be unlocked, but aren’t available for use until the user has registered.


Jewel Quest SolitaireThe casual games industry has spoiled me with the diversity of games with beautiful graphics, varied puzzles, and complementary music. So card games don’t appeal to me as much as in the past … that is, until Jewel Quest Solitaire. The card game blends Golf solitaire, match three / color match, a good story, great sound effects, and crisp graphics to create something atypical of card games.

I have not played any modern card games with a twist, but I’ve played Golf — the solitaire game — thousands of times. It’s a simple game (are games simple anymore?), but somehow it gripped me for many hands. In Golf, the object is to remove all cards from the stacks by pulling cards that are one higher or one lower than the face up card on the pile.

The building block for this solitaire comes from the popular Jewel Quest, a match three style-game with an adventure theme. Here you step in the dirty shoes of Indiana Jones look-alike’s nephew. Hey, the game uses the Indiana Jones font style. The Indian Jones here is Professor Percy Pack, a scholar who passes his worn brown fedora to you, provides you with his journal, and shows you how to play the homemade card game.

The game tells the story in a cool office setting with an old style slide projector with pictures appearing black and white complete with old-time radio sound narration. Open the journal to begin playing solitaire with cards having jewels and stones on them instead of aces, clubs, spades, and hearts. Unlike Golf and most solitaire games, the layout changes every time you successfully complete a layout.

Jewel Quest SolitaireThe original Jewel Quest enters the picture in your second layout. While you play solitaire, jewels appear in a small match three grid in the corner of your screen. Depending on the cards you play and your progress, you earn jewels that appear on the grid. If a match occurs, then the tile turns gold. The primary goal is to clear the cards followed by the secondary goal, which is to turn all tiles into gold.

You won’t likely turn all the tiles gold while playing solitaire — however, you’ll earn “swaps,” or turns, for playing the match three part of the game. The more swaps you win, the more moves you can make in turning the tiles gold. You play match three as soon as you clear the cards off the board. Each swap represents a move, so aim to turn all the tiles into gold within the number of moves you have available. The game rewards bonus points if you don’t use up your swaps.

I thought I almost finished the game when I got a pleasant surprise, but I won’t spoil that here. Let’s just say the game play lasts a long time. Jewel Quest Solitaire comes in two modes: Quest, the adventure part where you make matches; and Just Cards, where you play solitaire without the color matching part. However, while you play solitaire in Just Cards mode, the color match grid will appear and your moves can turn tiles into gold. You just won’t get to do any swapping.

The developer and publisher missed an excellent opportunity here to convert solitaire fans into Jewel Quest fans. There should be a third game mode along the lines of “Just Color Matching” where you play the color matching game without the solitaire. This consists of the original Jewel Quest. Considering Jewel Quest II exists, it could lead to solitaire players taking an interest in the two Jewel Quest games.

Jewel Quest SolitaireThe surprises don’t stop there. The game takes care not to spoil players with power ups in the form of wild cards as they appear every so often. A regular wild card works as any card of your choosing. Another wild card adds another pile so you can have more than one foundation pile for matching cards.

There’s even a good / bad wild card where you can choose any card to discard, but also it erases any wild card rules in effect. In other words, if you have two or three piles of cards, this wild card gets rid of the two piles that you’re back to one pile. The neat thing about power ups and this game is that you can’t use the same strategy throughout — it requires adjustment.

Jewel Quest Solitaire single-handedly renewed my interest in solitaire games — not an easy task considering all the superb games available in the casual games market. After playing the game for over a week, it still surprises me. Jewel Quest Solitaire II is available for those who want more.

Download and try Jewel Quest Solitaire and Jewel Quest Solitaire II.

System Requirements: Windows

  • Windows ME/98/2000/XP/Vista
  • 800MHz or faster processor
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 16 MB video card (32-bit graphics)
  • 50 MB hard drive space
  • DirectX 7.0 or later