I, like I’m sure many of you, have played A LOT of solitaire games on my iPhone. However, Order Of Leisure’s new card game, Kings’ Corners was my first exposure to this particular flavor of solitaire.
Unlike the Tri-Peaks or Klondike variations that most people are familiar with, Kings’ Corners is played in a 4×4 grid with a standard deck of cards, with the goal being to place the four Kings in each of the corners, the four Queens in the top and bottom rows (two per) and the four Jacks in the left-most and right-most columns (two per).
Each round of the game takes place in two stages: placing and clearing. One by one you flip over cards from the deck, placing them in open squares on the play area. Kings, Queens and Jacks can ONLY be placed in their reserved locations, while all other cards can be placed anywhere on the grid. However, you need to be careful when blocking the reserved spaces with non-K,Q,J cards because if you draw a K, Q or J and there is no open place to play it, the game is over.
After you’ve filled up the grid with cards, you enter the ‘clearing’ stage. Now you must tap on any two-card combos that add up to ten (or just a ’10’ card itself). Once you think you have all of the clear-able cards selected you tap “clear”, they’ll disappear from the play area and you will be immediately in a new “placing” round, drawing from a deck of cards made up of all the cards not currently present on the game board.
This cycle continues until either you win (by playing all the Kings, Queens and Jacks, or you reach a situation where one of these cards cannot be played or you have no clear-able cards. While there is obviously some strategy involved with regards to placing non-K,Q and J cards, this version of solitaire definitely seems to rely heavily on the luck of the draw.
Since (as I said) I was unfamiliar with the game of kings corners, I decided to check out a few other kings’ corners solitaire apps as well, and this one by Order Of Leisure is by far the best, displaying the most polish and the best aesthetics of the bunch that I tried.
Instead of just strictly adhering to the standard rule set, I really like what they’ve done with the clear out phase, putting it on a timer to force possible mistakes and add a sense of urgency. The way the scoring is handled remains a bit of mystery, but if you are going for a high score, just remember the clock is ALWAYS ticking. That being said, the game could use a more prominent warning system when your cleanout time is about to expire as I often times I found myself so focused on the upper part of the screen that my hands blocked the timer and I missed the countdown.
When selecting the hardest difficulty, you are also give a “mission” at the start of the round that will earn you bonus points if completed successfully. This could be something like clear out cards within 5 seconds, or win the game in under 3 minutes. I particularly liked this concept, but it just doesn’t feel like it’s been fully realized at the moment. Right now you really only have an indication that you accomplished your one and only mission at the end of the game. I’d love to see some indicator that you got it during the game (obviously this doesn’t apply to the ‘finish the game ones’) so I know I got it. This mission concept seems like an area ripe for future development and I’d love to see this transformed into a rolling mission system not unlike the one used in Jetpack Joyride and Ski Safari.
My only real complaint with regards to the game (other than it gets a bit repetitive) is that, as I said, the points seem like voodoo magic. I chose the hardest mode so I could get bonus points for the mission, though I have no idea how many points that is, also I don’t know how many points are lost for incorrect card placement. The exact way that points are earned needs to be explained so you know how to work your way up the leaderboards.
Order Of Leisure have made a very nice debut on the app store with Kings’ Corners. Though it’s a bit repetitive, that is really the nature of the solitaire beast. So I can’t really fault them for this too much as it didn’t seem to deter me from quickly earning the “Play 50 Games” achievement. This is a great quick pick up and play title when you need a distraction for a few minutes. Right now the game is only for the iPhone, but I believe “universal” support is planned for the next update. I’d love to see them expand the mission system further in future updates as it would help vary the gameplay a bit. Originally selling for $1.99, Kings’ Corners is currently available for FREE in the app store, so go grab a copy now.