Product Type: Deep Silver Nintendo DS games
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Cards, tiles and shapes
Solitaire,Mahjong and Tangram: 3-in-1 (DS)
Member Name: Munchkin2009
Solitaire,Mahjong and Tangram: 3-in-1 (DS)
Date: 19/12/11, updated on 20/12/11 (88 review reads)
Advantages: hours of gameplay, very relaxing to play
Disadvantages: Mahjong tiles a bit small, graphics in places, no statistics
As a huge fan of Solitaire card games, I was really excited to find that there was going to be a sequel to Solitaire DS (sold as Solitaire: The Ultimate Collection on some websites, and Solitaire Overload in the US). This time the card games would be joined with Mahjong and Tangrams to create this 3 in 1 collection of solitaire and puzzle games, so I added it to last year's Christmas wish list, and I was pleased to find this game in my stocking on Christmas Day, which was sadly to turn out to be one of the last Christmas presents my Mum would give to me. This game is also known as Solitaire Overload Plus in the US.
3 in 1: Solitaire, Mahjong and Tangram was released in late 2010, it is still widely available between £12-£15 in most places, but it will be more expensive from home shopping catalogues if they sell them. Second hand will generally be cheaper.
The game is rated 3 under the PEGI games certification system.
The UK version of the game was developed by GameOn and published by Deep Silver.
707 WAYS TO TEST YOUR PATIENCE
When I first load the game there aren't any user profiles to set up as such, the main menu just consists of the four game options (Solitaire, Mahjong, Tangram and the Picture Puzzles) which can all be accessed with the tap of the stylus. You can also access a general game tutorial, change a few settings and view a list of credits of those involved who produced the game.
~Solitaire:~ Have a little patience~
This is a collection of 202 different solitaire card games, which also includes most of the games from the original. To be honest, that isn't a bad thing, in my opinion, as it saves me having changing game cards just to play Klondike, Twin Queens, Fortunes Favour or Sea Towers to name a few examples. It's good to see this offering has a wider selection of solitaire families including the Sir Tommy (such as Auld Lang Syne and Acquaintance) and pairing games which I think should have been included in the first collection. There are games to suit all moods whether I want a challenging game or something easy, a quick game or something to take my time over. I can also save my progress (as with all of the games in this collection) to continue later if I want to.
There are, though, some games I love such as Tri Peaks, Gaps (Montana) and Clock Patience which aren't in this collection, maybe they will be if the developers release another sequel, and believe me there are still enough solitaire card games out there that would be suited to the DS (or 3DS for that matter) to warrant the release of another collection.
The user interface is a bit of a mixed bag. I'm pleased the main essence of gameplay from Solitaire DS is the same, I just choose the game I want to play from the menu and start playing. The game menu offers a wide variety of ways to find my favourite games, such as alphabetical order, popular games, family and a few other options, but there are 202 solitaire card games to sift through. It would have been nice though to see have seen an option to set a game as a favourite, and added a button to choose a random game. Sadly there are no statistics recorded in this game (other than the current session) so, there isn't an option to chose by times played or won.
Now on to the actual games, once again I'm given information about the game I'm playing, including expected time, skill/luck and my chances of winning though it seems to be different in practice. I'm pleased to see the simplistic card design has been retained, depicting the card value and the suit which is nice and easy to read. The cards are easily moved around on the touchscreen with the stylus or I can use the console buttons which is useful when the stylus goes walkies. I can still customise the rules to make the games easier or harder, for example changing the number of deals, or whether to allow me to put certain cards on an empty tableaux, it is good to have the option, but it isn't something I really use. I can also customise the card deck, background and what I want to appear on the top screen though I'm not very impressed with the camera idea and reflection of the card table on the top screen, just seems a bit pointless to me.
The instructions on how to play the games now has a dedicated button on the top right hand side of the touchscreen instead of being buried in a menu which was the case in Solitaire DS, and having to jump back and forth between the tutorial and the game as the tutorial was displayed on the touchscreen. As the rules are displayed on the top screen, this means I can have the tutorial on hand throughout the game which is great if I'm learning to play a new game, or just want to refresh my memory. However, the developers saw fit to include a rather pointless scroll bar which covers up the card values on the foundations and/or tableaux in some games, the forward and back buttons are more than sufficient in my opinion.
Also new to this game is that there are now 5 hints available if I get stuck, though this only applies to some games, this is really helpful especially towards the end of a game or that I'm stuck in a rut where I'm just moving cards around getting nowhere. I'm also pleased to report that Flower Garden from the first game has been correctly re-labeled Super Flower Garden which is the fan variant, and that the correct version of Flower Garden has also been included. I only discovered this when I went to play Flower Garden on the computer and was greeted with a completely different game!
The hideous magnifying glass also puts in an appearance when there are a lot of cards in a given tableau, the idea of this being something to tap on to show the obscured cards. I hoped an improvement would be found for this version especially for some of the fan and beleaguered castle type games where the tableaux are built across the screen in piles. The final gripe is that when I have won a game there is no quit button as there was on the predecessor, so instead I have to start a new game and then quit through the menu, which is an annoying extra step.
Gripes aside, there is no denying that this is still an excellent collection of Solitaire card games I have to take into consideration this is a sequel, and I expect the developers to take steps forward to make improvements rather than go backwards which is the case here in a few places.
~Mahjong: - A night on the tiles~
There are 101 Mahjong layouts included in this collection. The games are organised according to the size of the layouts, although there is an all layout option. The idea of Mahjong solitaire is to clear the layout by matching pairs of tiles according to suit. There are 3 hints if I get stuck along the way, which is a little stingy given the Solitaire gives me 5 hints and the Tangrams give me 4. I can only select pairs of tiles which are not otherwise blocked, and I can see which tiles I can use by touching the eye button on the bottom of the touchscreen.
The tiles are a bit on the small side, but they are nice and clear. As with the Solitaire there are options to customise the tiles to give them a different look. The use of the top screen is certainly better than solitaire as tiles cleared away are shown on the top screen according to the layout which is certainly a novel idea and makes the game more graphically pleasing. The camera option is still there, but again I feel that this is a bit pointless, if only to give a bit of pseudo 3D graphics.
As with many Mahjong games for the DS, when I run out of moves, I'm then given the option of shuffling the tiles, which I am in agreement with other reviewers, takes away the challenge from the game, but at least I'm given the choice here. If I really want to I can also select 'reshuffle' from the game menu within the layout.
~Tangram - Putting the shapes together~
I first became familiar with Tangrams when I bought Master All Classics, this is the 'shapes' game. This collection of games contains 303 tangram puzzles. I'm given a shape and it's my task to complete the puzzle using 7 different pieces known as tans. They consist of
5 triangles (2 large, 1 small and 2 very small ones)
The main game is played on the touchscreen, and an overview of how I'm doing is located on the top screen. It's a matter of dragging the pieces into what I think is the correct place, I can rotate the tans easily by dragging the corners, and I can flip the shape by double tapping it, alternatively I can perform the same operations with the console's buttons. I prefer to use the stylus but it does take a little practice to get the hang of maneuvering the shapes and manipulating them so they fit into the puzzle.
As far as solving them goes, don't be fooled, they are not as easy as they look! There is only one solution, but it can take a while to get there. I've found the places where I think a certain piece should go is completely wrong, so do watch out for red herrings! There are 4 hints to help me out if I'm stuck.
~Picture puzzles:- Pretty as a picture~
While this isn't advertised as one of the main features of the game, there are 100 bonus picture puzzles included. They are basically jigsaw puzzles made out of little squares, they are organised into easy, medium and hard. This is based on the actual image, rather than featuring the same set of images in different piece sizes. Personally I'm not a huge fan of these puzzles as I found even the easy ones too difficult, I would have preferred actual jigsaw type pieces, rather than squares which makes it hard to see what I'm doing. While I certainly like something to be challenging, I don't want it to be impossible.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
I've covered the main graphics issues within the body of the review, but on the whole the graphics are excellent with clear playing pieces. The only criticism from a general prospective is the top screen graphics on camera view is rather pixelated, and looks like how I would imagine a teletext graphic (remember them?) would look with more colours.
While Solitaire DS offered what was practically an entire album as the soundtrack, the sequel only offers 3 pieces of music. They are the themes to each of the given games, Solitaire, Mahjong and Tangrams. I can change the audio within the game using the main menu, and choosing audio and the playlist option to select the music I want to listen to. The music is as I would expect with solitaire, a kind of chill out soundtrack, but most of the time I either play with just the sound effects or the volume off.
This is still one of my favourite Nintendo DS games, I find the games (except the picture puzzles) very relaxing and absorbing to play. I mostly play the solitaire card games and mahjong as I feel they have the greater replay value than the tangrams or picture puzzles. In all honesty I would have preferred the picture puzzles to have been omitted, and had fewer tangrams in exchange for more mahjong layouts and solitaire card games, but the game is excellent value for money none the less. Accordingly I award the game a 4 star rating, though it would have been 5 if it hadn't been for the gripes with the solitaire section.
Summary: A very relaxing collection of games
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