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3D Solitaire - 3DS Download Review

Game Info
3D Solitaire

3DS Download | Zen Studios / Game-Ever | 1 Player | Out Now | $2.99 / £2.70
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17th August 2012; By KnucklesSonic8

Not even having to take extravagant risks or go to great lengths to step outside one's wheelhouse, rises in 3D gaming have made it an all too common strategy to take something familiar, slap on some 3D visuals of debatable effectiveness, and call it a day. With 3D Solitaire, it's not so simple. This is in many ways a case of a few mistakes nearly destroying any possible desire for a prospective user to settle in. And though the execution may not be miserable, there's a distinct lack of performance quality that many will find unforgivable when stacked up against the menagerie of available options.

    Offering about as much content as you'd expect from a traditional digital translation, 3D Solitaire features two gameplay modes: Klondike 1 and Klondike 3. Okay, so maybe I fibbed on the whole expectation bit. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you're looking for anything close to a collection, you're looking in the wrong aisle. This is really just a quick and easy digital version of the game, just as much as Nintendo's own 2-in-1 Solitaire on DSiWare. Under such circumstances, it's very easy to jump the conclusion that the implementation of 3D visuals is really just a cheap selling point, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

    The game relies on a scoring system that awards points for successful attachment of cards that go together, and it is also one that provides bonuses when you can, for example, make successive moves without flipping the deck. With a bit of strategy, you can actually influence the system by working your way backwards to ensure that you earn the maximum amount of points. Ultimately, once you have the three locked background options available for use, the idea of aiming for a high score won't seem all that enticing. But since you're probably playing to kill time anyway, it's not something to complain about.

As for the remaining elements, you also have your standard Hint and Undo options. The hints are simple enough in that they alert you to things that may have escaped your attention, but they by no means have the advanced technicality behind them that they'd actually help you get out of a jam, like when you may need to rearrange formed stacks to clear an opening. As a result, if you surmise that you're stuck and don't have anything left to do to rectify a situation, your only option will be to start over. But of course not before getting upset with the game for not doing more to help you when you really needed it.

    Structurally speaking, when you first jump into it, you'll find the cards displayed on the 3D Screen -- yes, covering much of the background visuals -- with the Circle Pad being used to control a white glove that's almost the same size as the cards themselves. While the A Button serves as your tool for selection, the Y and X Buttons act as shortcuts to quickly draw a new card or move one on the field to the four containers along the top. Right away, the controls feel clunky, and as you try to make certain movements like going from the deck to the bottom of a pile when you're actually trying to select one near the top, it becomes even more annoying that you're asked to play the game this way. I personally didn't have a huge issue with it, but I could easily see how this could be very off-putting to some. As well, for some strange reason, the environments are disturbed with a slight jerk every time you move the hand cursor. Why this occurs, I have no idea.

    Thankfully, if you head into the Options menu, you can flip the screens so the cards can be manipulated using the stylus. Naturally, that was the end of the inferior control method for me. Believe it or not, this doesn't mark the end of the odd jerking movements. Again, why? Another decision that left me scratching my head was that instead of having the Hint and Undo functions listed there on the Touch Screen as they are when using the standard control scheme, they're instead tucked away inside a menu that must be pulled up by pressing the X Button. And it's not even like they were cramped for space, either. There's more than enough room! All these points put together, it became increasingly apparent that the developers lost sight of the importance of having a user-friendly experience. And sad to say, the list of negatives only grew from this point onward.

    On a functional level, 3D Solitaire makes a number of additional errors that really serve to alienate players and push them in the direction of other, far more competent translations. The dragging mechanism is imprecise and will send cards back to where they were pulled from more often than it should. Also on touch controls, the system recognizes double taps used to quickly transport cards to the collection areas as multiple turns -- sometimes two or three instead of one. With the Undo function, there were so many times where the system would lock up because I had pulled up the menu in the middle of a card's movement, which basically means that you're disabled from moving in reverse until more cards get added to the pile. This would still occur even when the card I had moved seemed to be resting on the pile I dragged it to. It got on my nerves, to be quite honest. Also, why are points still deducted for continuing to draw when there's only one card remaining in the deck? Much about this game's execution had me asking, "What good is that?", and to be frank, I don't think anyone should have to put up with these technical concerns.

    For a game that presumably utilizes 3D visuals to offer something unique that would make less-enhanced digital translations look inferior, 3D Solitaire isn't very pleasing in its presentation. I will say, first and foremost, that while the 3D Slider doesn't add a great deal of depth to the mix, it is used in a fairly adequate manner to make the environments come to life a bit. That being said, these so-called environments -- which are more precisely labelled as backgrounds -- are about as lively as a playground on an overcast day. There are a few elements here and there to add movement, but otherwise, there's nothing taking place that would really grab your attention. Mind you, there is something to be said about achieving a sense of balance in this area as there is the risk of having these serve overly distracting purposes. But in all honesty, everything is just so dull. The jungle scene is the worst offender of the three, having little-to-no movement aside from a rather ugly monkey strolling across the grass. After meeting the condition of achieving 5000 Points on this background selection, players will unlock the ability to access the 3DS Camera application for custom backdrops. Playing to 3D-enabled photographs is nice and all, especially since it alleviates to a degree the boredom that stems from looking at the existing scenes in the dull state that they are in. But it's not a huge incentive either.

    Also on the matter of presentation, the nature of the music is completely in line with the countless other freeware games you've likely played over the years -- those both in and outside the genre of card games. The theme heard on both the Atlantis scene and the user backgrounds is a mess, with a poor mix of an unappealing polka waltz, underwater echoes, accordion-like sounds, and the odd boing or two. To then observe how some of the fish in this underwater scene would disappear abruptly, I couldn't help but conclude that they had to scatter soon after hearing the lousy music. Guess they didn't have enough time to say their goodbyes, either. The other songs aren't too bad, but there's no real consistency between them, so they end up coming across as quickly-thrown-together leftover material.

    With secular DSiWare titles offering much better value, consistency, and reliable functionality, I can't find one good reason why anyone would want to pick this up. I unfortunately can't even defend this game's actions on the grounds that it's the only 3D-enabled Solitaire game on the eShop at this present time. From a technical standpoint, yes, the game could've been even worse, but with the number of errors it does make being rather inexcusable, 3D Solitaire's faulty execution is a primary reason why it is so hard to recommend.

13/30 - Very Poor

Gameplay 4/10 - Functionality is unreliable and brings with it a number of valid complaints, controls can be clunky or imprecise, layout not perfect
Presentation 5/10 - Use of 3D works adequately, backgrounds range in quality, music isn't especially good, really dull in places, silly issues
Enjoyment 2/5 - Not very user-friendly, flaws have a negative impact on the experience, technical concerns can be a source of frustration
Extra Content 2/5 - Two gameplay modes, leaderboards, ability to use custom backdrops via the 3DS Camera, value lost when amongst other options

Equivalent to a score of 43% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by KnucklesSonic8

3D Solitaire
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