Arcade Solitaire: TriTowers from Endloop Systems is one seriously addictive game and is easly our top choice for solitaire on the platform. Frankly we cannot believe we are THIS excited about a solitaire game, but the guys at Endloop obviously put a lot of time and thought into crafting a well balanced game, requiring a nice blend of both strategy and luck.
If you are unfamiliar with the “Tri Towers” variant of solitaire, the game starts with eighteen cards dealt face-down on the game board to form three pyramids with three overlapping tiers each. And at the bottom of the pyramids (just slightly overlapping) are ten face-up cards. The twenty-four remaining cards make up the stock pile. If a face-up card from the game board is either 1 higher or 1 lower than the current visible card on the stock pile, it can be played on the stock pile, becoming the new “visible stock pile card”. If the visible card is an Ace, either a King or Two can be played. There is also a wild card which can be played at any time on top of any card in the stock pile. If you are unable to play on a card from the stock pile, then you flip over the next card in the pile and try again. Game plays until you either run out of time (99 second clock per level), run out of cards in the stock pile, or are able to play all of the cards on the gameboard. If you cannot successfully complete a level, you will lose a life.
The goal of the game is to clear the three towers of cards to win a level. Each time you complete a level, you move on to the next round of the game and begin again. To obtain the highest score, try to chain as many cards together as possible from a single initial card on the stock pile. This will earn some huge bonuses. You also get bonus points for completing the level in the fastest time possible and/or having leftover cards in the stock pile. If you have 5 or more cards left in the stock pile at the end of a round, you will get a bonus life. You can hold up to 3 bonus lives at any given time and you start with two lives at the outset of the game.
The developers seem to have thought of every little detail. First off, the game uses OpenFeint to provide a huge list of achievements and for global leaderboard tracking. The in-game real-time global leaderboard is one of the most fantastic features of the game and we really hope to see this show up in more games in the future. Assuming you are playing with an active internet connection, from the main game screen, you can look up to the top left and right corners and you will see both your current score and ranking, as well as the score you need to get to achieve the next rank and the name of the person who currently holds that rank. This gives you a constant goal to achieve and it is great that you don’t need to even leave the game to see how you are ranking. In one of our many many many play-throughs, we actually found ourselves competing with…well…ourselves for the next rank. In case you are wondering, we kicked our own butt!
Another really nice touch is that if you attempt to flip a new card onto the stock-pile when you still have playable face-up cards, the game will warn you that you can still play, so you don’t end up missing an opportunity. On the other-hand, if you ignore this gentle reminder, and try to flip a new card again, then the game will allow you skip playing any more cards. This small gameplay mechanic allows players to avoid making careless mistakes, but they are still given the opportunity to skip playing a card if it is part of some larger strategical move.
Arcade Solitaire : TriTowers also offers a huge amount of unlock-able customization, with over 30 different decks and play area backgrounds to choose from. The graphics are crisp and clean with nice textures to the back-sides of the decks. The game’s touch controls worked flawlessly. Arcade Solitaire does lack any sort of standard in-game music, although we must admit that the majority of the time we were playing with the sound off anyways. If we did want to hear music, we were able to listen to some Fall Out Boy on the iPod, while playing the game and still hear the arcade-like sound effects.
We simply cannot recommend Arcade Solitaire : TriTowers enough! Once you you experience the euphoria brought on by a 15+ card combo, there will be no turning back! This game is a really fun distraction and has been built in such a way that you can’t help but be competitive every time you pick it up, hoping to make it further and further up that leaderboard. At $0.99 this game is a complete steal and we suggest you buy it before Endloop comes to its senses and raises the price. With a subtitle of “TriTowers”, is another Solitaire game in the works from Endloop? We certainly hope Endloop will cast their magic on another solitaire variant in the future.