Solitaire's Journey. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Stephen Levy
Some I enjoy; some I don't. Some are easy to learn; others more difficult. Some are challenging; others are nearly impossible. But with 105 different versions of solitaire, Quantum Quality Productions' Solitaire's Journey includes solitaire games for everyone.
Solitaire's Journey is a straightforward approach to electronic solitaire. If you play a variety of traditional solitaire games, you'll probably find an electronic version of each of them included. And if you enjoy exploring and mastering new and different games of solitaire, you'll find hours of enjoyment here.
Solitaire's Journey includes not only 105 games but also instructions for each built right into the program. Simply select the game you want to play and pick Rules from the pull-down menu or hit the R key, and you'll see a summary of rules on an easy-to-follow layout of the game board. If you need more detailed instruction for any of the games (and beginners to Solitaire's Journey will almost certainly need more details), they're available also.
Don't like the backs of your cards and want a different style? Or maybe the screen background color is not to your liking? Changing either is simple enough, because Solitaire's Journey offers ten different decks and 240 backgrounds.
Another interesting feature of Solitaire's Journey is its history function. Here the program keeps track of your average score for each specific game you've played, graphs your scores so you can see your improvement, and tells you the standard average score, which serves as a benchmark for comparison.
Although solitaire players will enjoy the plethora of games and find the simple, friendly interface easy to use, the built-in Journey and Quest alternatives are mere attempts to unnecessarily add new dimensions to an already complete package.
In Journey, the player must move across a map of North America between predetermined starting and ending cities. As the player moves from city to city, he or she must select which of three solitaire games to play. An amount of money is received or given up depending on the score achieved. Quest is similar, except that the player moves from room to room in a house. These attempts at adding a new objective strike me as tedious at best, since they require that I play solitaire games I don't particularly enjoy. Solitaire's Journey also includes a tournament scenario that suffers from the same monotonous problem.
The strength of Solitaire's Journey is its variety of games and its clear and concise instructions. If you've ever tried to learn new solitaire games from a book, you'll be impressed with the ability of Solitaire's Journey to explain the rules of each game. What Solitaire's Journey doesn't do is explain the strategy needed for any of the games, although there are some general tips in the manual. You'll just have to master each game by experience--a challenge that enhances the value and appeal of this collection of games.
Although the manual is complete, you'll find the onscreen instructions more functional. The manual does contain an overview of each game. But what's most helpful is the list of games by category--a good way to find out which games are easiest to win! You'll also need the manual for the off-disk copy protection.
Although many players will want to turn off the sound, Solitaire's Journey does support the Ad Lib and Sound Blaster sound cards. For me, the music is more of a distraction than an enhancement.
One improvement I'd like to see in future releases is the ability to use either keyboard or mouse at any time. As it stands, if you have a mouse driver installed, you must use a mouse to play any of the games. Although the games are quicker if you have a mouse, keyboard players will have no trouble controlling play.
If you like solitaire and enjoy a variety of games, you'll find Solitaire's Journey to be a well-designed game pack that will fill your needs and offer challenge and fun. IBM PC or compatible, 640K RAM, EGA or VGA, hard drive; mouse recommended supports Ad Lib and Sound Blaster--$59.95 QUANTUM QUALITY PRODUCTIONS 1046 River Ave. Flemington, NJ 08822 (908) 788-2799 Circle Reader Service Number 354