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 Koi Solitaire

I got to thinking the other day “I don’t review enough card games”. The reason is simple really; I don’t play enough card games, but one day while I was surfing the internet I came across “Koi Solitaire.” I was so impressed by the screenshots that I decided to change all that. Umm, just one little problem…I never learned how to play solitaire!

I don’t know why that is, I guess I always associated Solitaire as the card game for the sad and lonely, dealing out cards while eating ice cream straight from the bucket on a Saturday night.

Most people find the fact that I have no idea how to play shocking (like I’m some sort of freak and I suddenly blurted out that I hate puppies or something!) Truth is I only know how to play a few card games such as Old Maid, Go Fish and Uno. Which I’m told by close friends aren’t even considered “real” card games because they aren’t played using a standard deck of cards. Drats! I am losing cool points by the minute.

Oh wait, I know one! I rock at War…umm, now that I think about it, maybe I am some sort of freak!!

In order to prepare for “Koi Solitaire” I went out and bought a deck of cards, I Googled the rules of the game and then asked everyone I knew to play with me. I know now why I got some strange looks but it didn’t click right away, okay?

The rules are quite simple and are easily learned within minutes. In fact, once I got the basics down I was hooked! You probably all know how to play already but here it is in a nutshell; the object of the game is to move all four aces to their foundations, and build from ace to king (A-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K). But you can only place a card beside one in an ascending (going up) or descending (going down) order, so for example you can put a "9" down beside an "8" or "10," but not a "7." Easy Peasy!

“Koi Solitaire” involves the cute little story of Jessica; a young lady who would love to start her very own Japanese garden business such as her ancestors did for generations before her. Jessica’s mother used to tell her and her sister all about Japanese gardens growing up. The stories stuck with Jessica, and as an adult she decided to start her own landscaping business specializing in you guessed it, Japanese gardens. Think it strange that a game like Solitaire can be given a plot and a storyline. Not any stranger than having you believe that you can actually landscape a garden just by laying out a deck of playing cards! But stranger things have happened.

So now with a little help from you and those magic cards of course, Jessica’s horticultural business will grow and grow!

  • Unlimited Play
  • 3 Game Modes: Regular, Relax, and Single Level
  • Helpful Power-Ups
  • Easy to Learn and Play

The magic cards are dealt from a looping conveyer belt-type thing (think “Zuma”), and by left clicking on your mouse you will be able to grab the floating cards from the conveyor to place them wherever you like on the game board. Go ahead, be strategic but also sure to keep an eye on your cards before they reach the end of the line, to where your sleepyhead cat Mr. Tama lies. If the cards reach the feisty feline and wakes him up then it's game over!

And that’s it: fill in the board and watch your peaceful Zen garden bloom to life.

Even though it is based on the easiest and most popular version of solitaire called Klondike, the developers at Puzzle Lab have added upgrades and powerups in order to give what would otherwise be just another “bore you to tears” computerized version of the game. Think “Windows Solitaire” with it’s dull, lifeless screen filled with just a deck of face-up playing cards on a green background. With “Koi Solitaire” it is obvious that they spent a lot of time and energy in the hopes of being new and exciting than all the rest and let me tell you-they succeeded in spades! Hey, it got me to play!

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The power ups that I mentioned do some cool things like allowing you to stop time, to re-deal cards, to remove unwanted cards, and to randomize a card such as using a joker. Oh yeah, if Mr. Tama is snoring, you can click on him and the fat cat will change the nearest card into a joker. This only works when he's snoring however, the rest of the time he’s just mean. (Makes sense, in a cat psychology class I once took we learned that a snoring cat is happy and dreaming about mice.)

The first ten levels or so of “Koi Solitaire” are light and easygoing. But that changes as the levels increase and Jessica meets more demanding customers! You'll need to think on your feet and choose cards carefully and make good use of your powerups and helpful bonus items- as well as Mr. Tama's jokers - if you want to succeed. While I wouldn’t describe it as frantic, edge of your seat action, it is challenging at times.

My favorite thing about “Koi Solitaire” are the graphics; they were absolutely, positively gorgeous! Each level was filled with beautiful images- colorful Japanese flowers, koi-fish swimming in a pond, and Jessica was just the cutest in her overalls with her hair in pigtails!

I found myself actually saying "Wow, that's beautiful!" more than once as I played. How often can you say that about a casual PC game much less one based on a card game!

SideNote: If you've played any of the other Puzzle Lab games before, the best known one being “Charm Tale” (see my review on it here ) then you already know the quality and what you can expect to see from this game.

Koi Solitaire” is a great and it should keep all you “lone rangers” happy.

Did you know? Koi means "carp" in Japanese. In Japan, carps are used for decoration in garden ponds and moats surrounding castles. They can live to be over 100 years old and catching and eating them is considered extremely rude!

Get Koi Solitaire Here

Graphics A
Sound B
Pickup & Play C
Overall Fun B

Posted by oxyjen on Jun 22, 2007


1 Comment(s):

On June 23, 2007, Mindchambers said:
great review, very thorough


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