Solitaire is one of the most popular games for the desktop PC, especially since it came standard on all versions of Windows. It is also a great companion to bring along on a laptop or PDA, so that you can while away the time waiting for planes, trains and significant others. I recently tried Gamebox Solitaire by PDAMill for Pocket PC, and was very impressed.
What makes this different from any old card game? In a word, the graphics. Taking advantage of the speed and color screen capabilities of the new Pocket PCs, Gamebox gives you a rich experience that is pleasing to all senses. The display is oriented in landscape mode, so the cards spread across the long edge of the screen. The cards are animated, sliding across the screen in realistic fashion when you deal or make moves. The program includes a musical soundtrack that some may find tedious, but can be relaxing if you give it a chance.
Gamebox Solitaire offers a choice of 10 different solitaire games, from the common Klondike and Golf to such choices as Chinese and East Haven. The opening screen contains a list of the available games on the left, with a preview of the card layout on the right. Each time you select a game from the list, a new preview screen pops up. For each game, you can obtain a quick description, as well as your personal statistics for that game. Statistics include the number of games played/won, average time, average moves, average undos, etc.
At the top of the main screen, you can choose settings for both game play and sound/graphics. There s no clear explanation of some of the settings (e.g. autoflip, autoplay), but you can figure them out by experimenting.
Once you select Play, the screen opens up to reveal a wooden table top with the cards set up on it. At the top of the screen are the following menu options: Deal, Replay, Undo, Sound and Music. There is also a timer keeping track of total game duration. The music and sound options toggle these effects on and off. Undo will reverse your last move. I am not sure what the difference is between deal and replay, since they both seem to start the game over in the same manner.
Range of Games
Confusing menu options
Extremely limited help screens
Gamebox Solitaire is fun to play, because you feel like you are dealing with real cards. The sideways screen authorization allows for larger cards and a larger playing area. Unlike the standard Windows version of Solitaire, you can easily read the suits and numbers without squinting, and it s easier to select and move individual cards. With a choice of 10 different games, it s hard to get bored. Picking up the game play is very intuitive, so the confusion about certain menu choices is really a minor gripe. This game is a good deal!
A trial version is available or you can buy it at Handango.com for the bargain price of $9.95 [product link].