Pour yourself a Mai Tai, grab a handful of macadamia nuts and double-click the icon on your desktop that says Aloha Solitaire — you’re about to travel to the beautiful Hawaiian islands to play a unique and relaxing solitaire card game.
While the game uses regular playing cards, Aloha Solitaire borrows heavily from the ancient tile game of Mahjong Solitaire (also known as Shanghai). The object of the game is to pair two cards with the same value (e.g. 5’s or Kings) so that they disappear, revealing the facedown cards underneath. The goal is to clear the entire screen to advance to the next stage. If the gamer cannot make a pair with the face-up cards, they must click on the deck at the bottom of the screen to flip up cards that may be a suitable match with those in the pile. The layout of the card pile may be either random or a pre-selected pattern.
The premise of the game seems simple, yes? Tactics do come into play as you must decide which of the cards to pair up if there is more than one option (such as four 3’s). Because you need to flip up face-down cards, the priority should be pairing cards with face-down cards underneath — otherwise you may render them inaccessible if there is no match. Joker cards will also pop up from time to time, which can be used to make a pair with any card (including other Jokers). Another tip is to pair up cards from the pile before turning to the deck of cards at the bottom of the screen as you must uncover as many face-down cards from the pile as possible.
Depending on the level of difficulty you choose at the start of the game, you can only flip through the deck of cards three times before you must restart the level or choose to scramble the remaining cards to try your luck again.
In total, Aloha Solitaire features an incredible 72 levels with increasing difficulty, such as more cards and trickier pile layouts.
Another unique feature is the introduction of limited "power-up" cards that provide bonuses if you match them, such as advancing to the next level, providing a free reshuffling of the deck or opening up additional slots for flipped cards from the deck. These bonus cards are labeled accordingly and should be used sparingly.
There is little real complaint about Aloha Solitaire, although new levels do not introduce significantly different game options. Also, the game doesn’t have any music (except for between levels, when Hula dancers briefly sway from side to side) and players cannot import their own digital tunes.
Because the game is easy to pick up, and without a time limit in which to complete the levels, Aloha Solitaire is a perfect way to unwind after a tough day. What’s more, the sounds of crashing waves and birds and beach, seashell and flower gradefinitely add to the soothing experience. Now, the only thing missing is a ukulele playing in the background, swaying palms and someone putting a lei around my neck.
If anyone asks, I’m in Maui "researching" some new games.