Ever since I first played Solitaire in Windows 3.1, I’ve been addicted to digital Solitaire. It’s a single-player game and I don’t have to waste time shuffling the cards since the computer handles it. Also, I don’t have to worry about the computer “cheating” since it’s just me against the deck. It was also the game that got me through several engineering recitation classes in the computer lab. I have another guilty pleasure. It’s called Bejeweled Blitz. While I love my first-person shooter games and 80-hour RPGs, thinking about the time investment is sometimes daunting. Blitz gave me a 60-second rush of match-3 gem gameplay. Although the game was only 60 seconds, the pleasure of playing made you want to do it again and again (hmmm… there’s a sexual pun in there somewhere). I can hardly remember a time, when I only played one 60-second game and not ten in a row.
Now, PopCap games the developers behind Bejeweld Blitz have combined the fast rush of Blitz with the age-old game of Solitaire in Solitaire Blitz on Facebook. It doesn’t sound exciting when you first hear it. At first, I thought it was just a game of Solitaire that you had to complete in 60 seconds. Of course, PopCap proved me wrong by creating a totally unique Solitaire experience, complete with all the lovely multipliers you need to bragging about your high score.
When you first enter the Facebook game, the setup looks like any other game of Solitaire. The game is designed as an underwater game. The visuals are a cartoony mix of Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Spongebob Square Pants.
There are seven rows of cards, each with one face-up card, and a draw deck (or stockpile). Instead of creating foundation piles, gamers are given one random card to start the first foundation pile. Then they must put a card that is higher or lower than that card on top. Gamers have 60 seconds to use up all the cards.
Inside the seven card rows, certain cards will be marked with keys. These unlock new foundation piles. You can have up to three card piles. You earn score multipliers by creating chains. In Solitaire Blitz, this means that every card that you use (from the seven card rows) without having to go to the deck to get a new starting card, adds to your chain. Once you get stuck, and draw new cards to top your foundation piles, the chain gets restarted. Jokers work like Wild cards in Uno. You will typically want to hold off on using any face-up Jokers from your seven stacks until you don’t have any moves left.
Solitaire Blitz is free to play, but you can buy additional game boosts to help you earn more points. These can be bough by using coins collected at the end of every game (that come in the form of buried treasure). Every week there are different boosts, such as: Extra Time, Run Finders, Starting Joker, Bonus Fish (multipliers) and Mines.
There is a leaderboard of your friends scores to the right side of your game screen. It keeps the single-player game competitive. Every time I played, I wanted to play again to beat that lingering score that was at the top of my friends list.
Solitaire Blitz is now available on Facebook in Beta. The game is one of the best additions to the Facebook world and will surely sap up hours of your life in small 60-second chunks. The game forces you to take breaks. You start with five energy bars (additional energy bars can accumulate in your bank if you keep the game open). Once the bars are gone you will have to wait about 10-minutes to accumulate more or pay for additional energy bars.
Solitaire Blitz is available on Beta on Facebook and will be publicly released in March 2012!