Astraware Solitaire for the Apple iPhone/Touch

by PocketGoddess on July 21, 2009

It’s obvious that the developers took every detail into account when creating the iPhone version of Astraware Solitaire. The bar at the bottom of the loading screen fills with cards instead of your typical opaque gray fill. When the game comes up, a clean and uncluttered screen welcomes you to try one of the twelve included games: Klondike, Free Cell, Spider, Calculate, Golf, Idiot’s Delight, Canfield, Clock, Four Seasons, Yukon, Sultans Harem, and Pyramid.

Astraware Solitaire Game Information Card

Each one has an illustrated card, and all you have to do is tap on the card to see an example layout, as well as cards at the bottom of the screen you can touch for more information, statistics, rules, and how to play. Icons at the bottom of the screen allow you to access the application settings and view the trophies you’ve collected along the way (more about that later).

Touch the Play button in the top right corner to start your game, or touch the game layout card in the middle of the screen. Everything is snappy and responsive, with quick deals and large graphics on the cards that make everything easy to see. Cards move intelligently, meaning that when you touch a particular card it automatically goes to the proper spot, without you having to drag it the whole way. If you’re in a hurry, such as during a secondary deal in Spider, you can tap anywhere on the screen to have the deal instantly complete, instead of watching the cards fly into their places on the screen.

Trophies are collected by playing and winning (and even losing!) the various games included in this collection. That’s a great way to “force” folks to play all of the games, instead of concentrating on a favorite. Especially since you can actually play with the trophy deck of gold cards as soon you win all of the various trophies. It’s a fun little bonus that adds a bit of “gotta catch them all” excitement for those who like to unlock every single part of a game, but can also be ignored if you’re not into that sort of thing.

You can use your own photos as backgrounds if you wish, and there are a variety of card backs to choose from. Many of them are unlocked by playing/winning the various games and accumulating particular trophies. A few of them borrow from other Astraware games, so if you’ve played StarPop, Crazy Daisy, or Buzz, you’re sure to recognize a few of them. You can also listen to your own music while you’re playing, which is a nice touch.

Astraware Solitaire Klondike, Clear Deck

There’s a lot to like in Astraware Solitaire, though there is one disappointment. I wish that there were a landscape mode, which would allow the use of slightly larger cards on a bigger layout. Most of the games are very easy to see, but some that have a rather crowded tableau, like Spider, can be a bit tricky. Selecting the “clear deck” in the settings menu helps immensely, since it does away with graphics and uses large numbers and suit symbols.

There were also a couple of instances where I got a premature Game Over message; this happened most often in Spider, when the playing field was wide open and I was just moving up the last couple of sets to the top in order to win the game. This is only a minor annoyance, as you can select “keep playing” and continue on to win the game, but I would still like to see it fixed in an update to the game.

Astraware Solitaire provides a nice selection of games with a clear interface and the added bonus of trophies and unlockables. It’s currently on sale in the App Store for just 99 cents, so you really can’t go wrong with this one if you enjoy card games.

4.5 out of 5

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