If you're going to include unusual solitaire variants, then make sure your instructions are crystal clear...
Just like Sudoku, Royal Solitaire is one of two games that were released recently for the iPod games channel. In fact they are the first two games to be released since the launch titles... and I can't help but wonder what the heck Apple is doing? For a company that seems to have it all on their little MP3 device it's surprising that they haven't taken more of an initiative to get more game products out the door and to the consumers, especially considering the initial batch of games was more or less ho-hum in terms of quality. But thanks to the folks over at Electronic Arts, iPod gamers finally have two more games to choose from. Two very basic games, but games nonetheless.
It's hard to see why EA went ahead and green lighted a solitaire game for the iPod considering each one includes the basic card game on its hard drive. But I suppose if that were the mentality developers based their decisions on we would have never seen any other puzzle games on our original black and white Game Boy's due to Tetris, and that would have been a damn shame. So it seems EA is prepared to outdo Apple's basic solitaire title with a more full fledged version because this isn't just solitaire this is Royal Solitaire. In fact within Royal Solitaire you won't find the generic solitaire anywhere at all, instead you'll have access to 10 alterations of the classic game, that have their own special twist on the original formula.
The 10 games included are, Aces Up, Beleaguered Castle, Canfield, FreeCell, Golf, Klondike, Peaks, Pyramid, Scorpion and Yukon. My guess is the vast majority of people out there, which includes me, have never even heard half of these games. Personally I had only known of two - Free Cell and Golf, and found myself wondering is this package really all that necessary? Are there that many gamers thinking to themselves, "man I sure could go for a portable version of Beleaguered Castle right now!" There's a nice variety of titles to choose from, but the goal is all basically the same, either removing all the cards from the playing field or to one or more destination piles (the game likes to call these "foundations"), which just furthers my curiosity in the point of purchasing the package, as each game at their core is basically the same game.
Due to the games being totally obscure you'll obviously have to read up on how each one plays and understand each titles individual rules. This is easily my biggest gripe concerning Royal Solitaire - while the game does provide instructions on how to play each solitaire variation, I found it entirely complicated and confusing. If you're going to want to jump into any of these titles you'll have to play through them a dozen or so times just to get the hand of everything.
Even though the game comes packed with 10 individual titles, odds are you'll more then likely just find one you actually do enjoy (or understand for that matter) and stick with it. And you have to ask yourself is it worth paying $5 for a card game? To me? Hardly. The presentation is nice, but the game has the same jumbled controls that the free version features and just takes away from the overall experience. And keeping in mind that the majority of these games are just weak attempts at changing the original solitaire, just don't bother. If you're in desperate need for a new game on your iPod, pick up EA's other title Sudoku, but if not you're better off waiting for the next batch of games, lets just hope the come a lot sooner then these two did.
What's Hot: Solid presentation, 10 unique games.
What's Not: Totally obscure versions of solitaire, disappointing controls.