Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Windows 10 System Apps Review: Microsoft Solitaire Collection

Note: This page is a review which forms part of the post Windows 10 System Apps Review

What’s this app for?

No Windows Operating System should be without a card game and thus this app is a collection of five; Klondike (think classic solitaire), Spider, FreeCell, Pyramid & TriPeaks. That’s not all, there’s a social media aspect to it all now, as you can complete daily challenges, get achievements, see statistics and even change the theme.

Does it do the job it was primarily designed for?

Yes. There’s a shed load of stuff in this app. I’d never bothered with it until I had to for these app reviews but although it’s not very visually appealing design wise and somewhat cluttered with random colours, there’s everything you could dream of in here if you love your card games.

First up, the five card games are on offer. I’m a traditionalist so I only concerned myself with Klondike, which is basically another name for the solitaire we all know and love. This plays exactly as it has for years, without any extra gimmicks, aside from rather intrusive hints and tutorial messages which you can turn of in-screen or via the settings. If you’ve played solitaire before, you’ll be right at home here.

The difference with this app to the traditional solitaire we all remember even back to the days of before Windows 95, is that the bells and whistles have been thrown at the game for Windows 10. Not within he actual gameplay, but outside of it as this app integrated with the Xbox app in order to connect with friends and show achievements, but I’ll leave all that stuff until I get to reviewing the Xbox app itself.

If one should get bored playing the games, then there are daily challenges as well as “mission” style challenges such as “Collect 3 Two Value Cards” which are quite normal in modern games and something to aim for I guess. Not sure I’d bother with them much myself but any card-aholics would lap this stuff up.

Back in classic solitaire you could change the card deck. Taking things a step further this time, you can do that and more in this app. You can add whatever background you like using an image of your choice, change front and back of cards and even the effect one gets when you complete/win a game. A very nice and somewhat funky option to have.

Settings wise there’s a decent amount of customisation for the game play. The obligatory and well received sound effects and music controls are there, as well as text sizes for the visually challenged. Even better, you can turn of the hints and tutorial pop-ups globally here. If you already know these games, you’ll want to turn them off pronto before you get extremely annoyed.

The only downer to this app that I can see is as said before, it’s visual design. On the plus side, it doesn’t look like a universal app. There’s nothing bland about it, but it does seem rather cluttered and full of rather too many alternative colours for my liking. It’s not awful by any means, but it could do with a clear design I think.

There’s also advertisements sprinkled about the app; on the front screen down the bottom and when you finish a game. None of them are intrusive, but you might initially do a “Huh?” double check when you see them the first time. There’s an option to pay for a premium version of the app which gets rid of the adverts and gives you some game related bonuses, but unless you’re going to be using this app for hours every day, I can’t see the need to spend out any money. Its integration with the Xbox app for certain aspects might be a little annoying though but it’s no different to having Google Games App interact with other games on the android OS.

What’s the alternative?

There’s no other games in Windows 10 by default. Even minesweeper you have to download via the Store. Naturally there’s plenty other games in the Store too of a similar genre, but there’s nothing really missing or awful about this card game that I can see people needing to find an alternative. Could always get a real pack of cards out, I guess?

Hit, Miss, or Maybe?

Hit; five card games, lots of challenges and a decent range of options for game play customisation, this game does the job very well for card fans.

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