5 in 1 Solitaire Review—Exactly What It Sounds Like
*Screenshots used in this review are from the WiiWare version of the game. The PSP version has lower-quality graphics.
Solitaire is as omnipresent as air. It is everywhere: bundled with your PC and embedded in mobile phones. And, let us not forget the tangible version of solitaire.
This is not the first time that solitaire has appeared as a Mini; we have 5-in-1 Arcade‘s solitaire, this abomination of a solitaire and Card Shark‘s solitaire. Lately, the Minis program has rained shmups on us. Some of us have been complaining. Can we complain this time, “Why the damn solitaires?”
Upon starting the game, you are greeted with an unpleasant title screen. It is as basic as basic can be, and you can see the jagged edges of the graphics. Thankfully, as you survive this bad impression, you are asked to create a profile, and this profile system alone is worth the trouble of getting another solitaire title.
You can create up to four profiles. Every game is recorded stat-wise: your losses, your wins, your best score and your best moves (i.e., least number of moves).
Again, the interface is one of the ugliest I’ve seen in a modern game. The solitaire variations are listed vertically on the left side of your screen. Their names are written in white with obvious jagged edges. Even the design of the backdrop has jagged edges! The right side shows the graphical representation of the selected solitaire variation whenever you browse over its name. Below the thumbnail is the Statistics box with all the records I mentioned earlier.
There are five variants of solitaire that you can play. Klondike, the usual suspect, is included in this bundle. Freecell and Spider, two of the most popular variations, are also present here. While I doubt that you don’t know anything about these games, if you are indeed not familiar with any of them, 5 in 1 Solitaire includes an extensive tutorial, probably the best tutorial session you can experience from a Mini. The tutorial sessions include a friendly and accommodating tone with a hands-on guided part and then leave you alone until you get familiar with the game.
The other two, less familiar solitaire variants are Golf and Gaps. The objective of Golf is to transfer as many cards as possible to a waste pile, with the fewest flips from the stock as possible. However, you can only move a card if it is one rank higher or one rank lower than the current card, regardless of suit. The last variation, Gaps, is fun to play. It is like those puzzle games with one missing piece so that you can slide pieces around to form a cohesive picture but more complex, way more complex.
The game proper’s presentation is acceptable. It’s below average, actually, but after the horror of the main menu, a minor improvement will look like a giant leap for mankind. The controls are simple; I mean, what gimmickry could you pull off with solitaire anyway? X is select and confirm, Circle to undo moves, and the shoulder buttons are utilized for any other additional controls, depending on what the current solitaire variation requires.
Each of the variants is customizable, with the most common option being the timed mode, but some variations have more to choose from. For example, you can choose not to loop stacks in Golf or try your luck with four suits in Spider.
And, the greatest thing about this Mini? You can save your session and continue to play with other modes. You can also pause all five sessions, play other games on your PSP and continue your solitaire later. It’s a simple feature but certainly the most helpful.
There are other, better Minis out there, but for those who like solitaire, this is the one to get. The game is stable enough, with minimal load times, and the only problem is the clunky menu and horrendous artwork. You can change the backdrop and the card designs, but the truth is none of the choices are even close to pretty level. All of these are forgivable because 5 in 1 Solitaire is able to flesh out what is left in the card game.