Playing Solitaire on the computer is one of the first endeavors of many new computer owners. Why? Because Solitaire brings a bit of familiarity to a new technology. The game of Solitaire began in the 1700’s and now, more than 200 years later, continues to amuse and challenge young and old alike. Combine the tried and true success of a cherished standby like Solitaire with a new technology like the computer and you have a real winner. The folks at Sierra Family Games have made the most of the old/new combination by bringing some of the best-known card games to life on the computer.
The Hoyle Card Games by Sierra Family Games is a collection of eighteen games including Gin Rummy, Poker, Bridge, Canasta, Cribbage, Crazy 8’s, Hearts, Memory Match, War, Spades, Old Maid, Go Fish, Pinochle, Pitch, Euchre, and thirty variations of Solitaire. From the dancing cards when you start the program to the amusing opponents and customizable backgrounds, these games are just plain fun.
I grew up in a home where everyone played cards. My grandfather played Solitaire every day of his life. My parents and their friends played Canasta and Pinochle. When I was a kid, we spent many enjoyable evenings with the entire family playing penny poker. So it is not surprising that I found so much enjoyment in the Hoyle Card Games.
This new version for 2002 adds Canasta, one of my favorites, and some new international games including Skat, a three-player game from Germany, and Tarot, the national game of France.
Hoyle Card Games gives you many different playing options. You can get family and friends together on the same computer for a head-to-head competition (up to four players on the same computer). If you are connected to the Internet, you can play with distant family and friends or meet up with new opponents. You can also play against the unique, witty opponents that the computer provides. These opponents come with their own voices, unique attitudes, and playing styles. Not only do you get to choose your opponents, but you can also easily customize their skill levels. Play against Jasper, the Jamaican jazz player; Marvin, the friendly T-Rex; or Ester, the sharp-as-a-tack grandmother. You can also adjust the Attitude Meter to make your opponents quieter and more serious or more talkative and witty. This latest edition of the software also includes a new feature called Facemaker, which lets the user create their own personalized characters by choosing hairstyle, clothing, and facial features.
One caveat, once installed, the program works perfectly without the CD-ROM, however your characters don’t talk and the background music doesn’t play unless you have the CD-ROM in the drive. While the program does make a statement about this during the installation, it is easy to overlook and then be confused as to why your opponents are not as vocal as they were yesterday.
To enhance your gaming experience, you can customize both the back and the face of the cards as well as your playing environment. The cabin has scenery that changes with the seasons. If you find the cabin a little too rustic, you can try playing on a ship in outer space. You also get to choose from a nice selection of background music to get you in the proper mood.
Once you have set up your opponents and determined the environment, the card games themselves are a hoot. Play Go Fish and the fish actually jump in and out of the pond. In War, your tanks get blown up when you lose. In Poker, your opponents call your bluff and egg you on. If you don’t know how to play a game, there are excellent instructions. The biggest problem that I had was getting back to the plain old seven-card variation of Solitaire after trying out some other Solitaire games. I had to go through a trial and error of choosing game after game until I found the Solitaire that I was used to playing was actually called Klondike.
There are enough card games to entice everyone from kids to grandparents. Try one of these familiar favorites if you want to have some good old-fashioned fun on your computer. But be careful, these games can get addictive. The first night we installed the Card Games program, we stayed up well past our normal bedtime.
Well, I’ve got to run now. I need to practice Hearts so I can be ready for a game when my son comes to visit. I need to improve my strategy so I can impress him when I Shoot the Moon.