There’s no shortage of Solitaire games and Solitaire variants out there for smartphones and tablets. As I observed in my review of Solitaire Blitz around a month ago, a quick App Store search yields over 2,000 results. Two thousand!
What we do have a shortage of is Solitaire variants with heart, with passion. Enter: 4 Thrones by Simple Machine, available now from the App Store (£1.49) and Google Play (£1.24). It takes some inspiration from - as the name perhaps suggests - Game of Thrones. Interesting.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with 4 Thrones, and even more so – retroactively – when I read the blog post: The making of 4 Thrones, which reveals – among other things – the logic behind the behaviour of the Jack, Queen and King.
What’s even more impressive is the fact that the whole thing was put together in “almost two weeks”.
Starting with the basics, 4 Thrones chucks four cards on the playing area face up, and tasks you with placing the remaining 48 on the piles by any means necessary; just get rid of ‘em to win. Er, within the confines of the rules, of course.
Essentially, you can place any given card on a card that’s lower down the ranks, so a 10 of any suit will happily sit on a 2, for example, and just as happily on a 9, though placing it on the former would be a bit of a waste, tactically.
Mixing things up a bit, the Ace is both high and low, which ultimately means it can be placed on any card – other than another Ace (which you wouldn’t want to do, anyway). It’s ideal for negating a King, instantly reducing that particular pile from highest value to lowest.
Finally we turn our attention to card game royalty: the Jack, the Queen and the King.
The Jack will accept any numbered card, as he doesn’t care about power; the Queen just wants love (Hearts) or money (Diamonds); and the King will yield only to a sword (Spade). Genius. As such, the Ace can be thought of as an assassin, capable of taking out any target, but most effective against a King.
In terms of balance, the whole thing works really well in the sense that you’ll often complete games, while other times it proves to be impossible. That’s just the nature of Solitare.
Keeping things interesting, we also have a couple of additional game modes, namely Endless (does what it says on the tin) and Kings, which rewards the player for keeping Kings in play, as they generally stink the place up.
There are also a number of mostly delicious themes, each unlocked upon completion of X number of games.
And that’s 4 Thrones. Great stuff.
- Three games
- Multiple themes
- Cool variant on the Solitaire theme
- Uhm, quite samey, I guess
- The option to instantly apply a theme when it’s unlocked would be nice
Summary: 4 Thrones is a brilliant take on Solitaire. The end.
Developer: Simple Machine
Compatibility: Requires iOS 5.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
Android compatibility: Version 2.2 or above.