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Card Games

Review – Faerie Solitaire (PC)

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Subsoap | 03.15.2009

Solitaire is a game that has like 500 zillion variations.  In fact, Solitaire is more of a genre of card game played alone than a type of game itself.  Faerie Solitaire, as far as I know, isn’t based on a previous “classic” style of Solitaire, but then, the reference material surrounding this game isn’t real plentiful.  It certainly isn’t the standard 7 piles, flip 3, collect Ace through King solitaire.

2011-09-23_00001 The basic card game works as follows, cards are laid out on the playing field in various patterns and the player gets a small stack to flip through.  You flip through the cards and play cards off the field in consecutive ascending or descending order, depending on what’s on your stack.  So if you flip a 5, you can pull a 4 or a 6 off the field and put it on the 5, then proceed to pull say, a 5 or 3.  You can only pull cards off the field that do not have other cards on top of them.

There are also some fantasy elements to help make the game more interesting beyond a simple card game.  Completing stages helps you free captive Faeries.  You also collect eggs and gain little pets, though the pets don’t really seem to DO anything.  Each round also earns some cash which can be spent to buy power ups such as Undos or pre flipped cards.

2011-09-23_00006 The gameplay itself is actually a lot of fun.  It’s just as mindless as Solitaire but it also has quite a bit of complexity involved.  You can proceed on without clearing the field for a Perfect but you won’t earn as much money.  Planning out combos and patterns becomes more essential as you get into higher levels.

There are also strategic elements added via other game mechanics.  Occasionally there will be cards trapped behind Ice, Fire, or Plants.  In order to play these cards you have to unlock them first, often by clearing out a stack somewhere on the board.

Overall, Faerie Solitaire is a solid card game.  Granted, if you’re not into computer cards you’re not going to enjoy it.  The whole Faerie theme may also turn some people off thinking the game is “too girly”, but the reality is, it’s much more “Generic Fantasy” than “Girly Faerie”.  Also, for the most part, the Faerie aspects can be completely ignored if so desired.

Faerie Solitaire can be found on Steam here.

NOTE: This game is also available on other platforms such as iOS.

Review – Poker Night at the Inventory (PC)

Poker Night at the Inventory Title

Telltale Games | Nov 22, 2010

So Telltale games, makers of something like 90% of the Adventure games on the market (maybe) had an interesting idea. Why not take the idea of computer poker, and instead of playing against made up kooky PC characters you don’t recognizes, why not throw in a cast of known characters from popular games and nerd sites.

Thus, you end up with Poker Night at the Inventory. You play poker against Tycho from Penny-Arcade, The Heavy, of Team Fortress 2 Fame, Telltale’s defacto mascot, Max, from the Sam & max series, and Strong Bad from the popular web series Homestar Runner. I didn’t even realize Homestar Runner was still around personally but hey, whatevs.

The Poker part of the game is limited to Texas Hold Em style poker. It’s not a game style I’d played recently, most of my Poker experience is in Draw Poker. It’s not too difficult once you get the hand of it though I find the game is based a little more on chance than I care for. This brings up Poker Night’s biggest flaw. Texas Hold Em, as near as I can tell, is very much a game of bluffing. This could be pretty interesting with real humans to compete against since you can “read” them or whatever. When you’re playing against a bunch of computer controlled AIs, this thrill is almost non existent. The characters do have some built in little stories and tells but everything really just seems to be randomly played. It’s not real obvious who is bluffing and who has something.

This also works the other way. It’s pretty much impossible to truly bluff the PC AI. The closest I’ve found is that shoving your entire pot in at once will cause all of the characters to gasp and often will force them to fold. Often, but not always, and they will almost just as often bet it all and go bust with nothing. Someone needs to tell the AI that calling a bluff when you have even a pair is risky but doable, but calling a massive bluff with “queen high” then going bust is kind of a stupid move.

Speaking of the table chatter though. It gets old. There was a bug on the initial release that caused the dialogue to not be as random as it was supposed to be, but even with that bug fixed, hearing the same 2 or 3 stories out of the 4 characters gets a little old.

So you don’t have the risk of real money poker, but you do get the monotony of playing cards against a computer for nothing, which is fun for a bit but gets a little old after a while. Still, the game is extremely cheap and if you are into Team Fortress 2 you can earn some fun special items from the players so the $5 price point is pretty decent.The real missed opportunity here is in DLC. Telltale doesn’t seem to have any desire to push any sort of DLC fo this game but the potential is huge. Just think, for maybe another dollar each, they could add more character packs. Then each game could be built from 4 random characters from the pool. Even sticking with the pool of sources used, the obvious additions of Sam, Gabe, Any other TF2 Class, and Homestar Runner would be entertaining. Maybe they just charge another $5 for a new set + new play style. The option to pick between different Poker play styles would be another welcome addition.