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Written by  :  Jeanne (76226)
Written on  :  May 12, 2005
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars
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A fun and varied solitaire collection

The Good

Hoyle Solitaire is the Windows version of Sierra's MS-DOS Hoyle Official Book of Games: Volume 2 with the 28 solitaire games found in that old release, updated with new looks and sounds and mouse control. Besides the most well-known card ones (i.e. Klondike and Pyramid), you'll find some solitaire games here that can't be found elsewhere. Some of my favorites include Slide, La Belle Lucie and Eagle Wing. Plus it includes a simple "card flick" arcade game (toss cards into a hat).

During installation you can choose whether to install a "hard drive" version in addition to the standard one. I installed both without a problem. The "Hoyle Solitaire HD" hard drive game can be played without the CD in the drive, but you sacrifice the music. Sound effects (shuffling and dealing cards) can be heard in either the Hard Drive or CD version. It plays in all versions of Windows released thus far, from Windows 3.x through Windows XP. Since the music is non-essential and can become repetitive, I play the hard drive version much more often and don't miss the music at all.

Most of the gameplay is "drag and drop" but playing a card in some of the games simply requires a right click to send it to the correct spot. Easy and Difficult settings can be chosen per game and you can "undo" moves as often and as far back as you desire. You can replay the current game from the beginning by clicking on the "Options" menu.

You can choose the backgrounds, music and card deck styles from within the "Options" or "Room" menu of each game. Complete, well-written rules and a Glossary of terms are just a click away and they are easy to understand. Up to 4 players can save their statistics separately.

The Bad

Gameplay screen size is determined by your computer screen's resolution, so anything other than 640x480 appears as a small desktop window. If you have Windows XP, choosing to play it in 640x480 has no effect on the screen size. Most people don't want to change their system's resolution, so you're stuck with a small screen and cards that are not very clear or easy to read.

Outside of the individual games, there's no way to see your stats until you Quit that game. And the Stats screen itself is not self-explanatory. Until you've tried it, you don't realize that you are replacing your stats with the current session. The installed Manual explains the statistics screen a bit more, but I was never able to get it to do what I wanted it to.

No deviation from the "official" Hoyle rules is allowed, so you can't cheat at all. As I said above, the Rules are complete, but no hints are provided whatsoever .. no "next available move", for example.

The "card flick" game is not easy to control or play.

The Bottom Line

Most people have at least one game of solitaire on their computers, whether it be the one installed with their system or another purchased or downloaded version. And I'd wager that many of you play computer solitaire at least once a week, if not more often.

Although not perfect, Hoyle Solitaire still holds my interest as much today as it did when I first bought it several years ago. If you love solitaire, this collection may become one of those mainstay programs that you install on every computer you own.

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