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Review: Windows Solitaire (or, Satan's Game)
by Greg Mengel

Windows Solitaire, often called the 'Game of the Year All Years', may be the most horrible game ever made.

Base gameplay, lazy graphics, no storyline, disturbing sound effects, infuriating 'tips' and no online community to speak of all combine to form this digital Antichrist. When Bill Gates is inevitably slain and feasted on by thousands of his mutinous employees at the Ragnarok, his soul will be sent by Hades to the pit of Tartarus, where he will be forced to play Solitaire in a spiked chamber without food, rest, or water until the end of time.

To understand the extent to which this game is evil, one must look first to its history, and then to its design.

In 1989, Microsoft was working on the famous Windows 3.0. Scared that normal, god-fearing citizens would shy away from the black magic of graphical user interfaces, the company asked its employees to find a way to "sooth people intimidated by the operating system." An intern, Wes Cherry, took up the hero's call, developing a game which would not only relax users to the point of a Prozac overdose, but also familiarise them with the point-and-click functionality of a mouse. In 1990 this application was unleashed on the public, and found its way into homes and offices everywhere. The game we know as Solitaire was born.

Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. Solitaire is love.

It is a date that will live in infamy.

Since that time, Solitaire has claimed the lives of millions, and proudly boasts that it is likely the most-played game in the history of gaming. It's the definition of big.

Early concept art of "Captain Solitaire," proposed cameo character for Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Now that you know how Solitaire was allowed to happen, let's discuss how exactly is works.

Windows Solitaire was modelled after "Klondike," a solo card game played mostly by seniors, librarians, cat ladies and other lonely people. It uses a standard 52-card deck, arranged into a row of four cards at the top right of the playing table, a seven-card row just below it, and a shuffled deck at the top left. Once the table is set, players attempt to line up cards in a sequential order while following these rules.

Designing a video game based on Klondike is like writing a screenplay about the life and times of a clump of soil.

Note the soothing forest green backdrop, relaxing blue-pattern art, and the "it's all going be okay" scenic snowy-road sketch on kings and other face cards.

The gameplay in Windows Solitaire is about as close to legalised soma as I've experienced playing a game. First of all, the colours, aesthetics, and sounds are all designed to calm you down after a tense day at work/day with the kids/day burying bodies/day digging up bodies/day of protesting/other stressful experience (delete as applicable). Cute boinks! and card-shuffling motions! can be heard when you do just about anything, and the visuals play on colours that anyone who has taken a basic theatre costuming class can tell you will instantaneously inspire trust and relaxation in an audience. While plaing Solitaire you may feel the sensation of Bill Gates reassuringly petting you from behind an invisible wall.

If you can shake off the feeling that Windows Solitaire may be trying to seduce you, you'll soon find yourself angry at the chance-based nature of the game. Without using the secret [CTRL + SHIFT + ALT + CLICK] draw cheat, a player will likely lose one out of every four games he or she begins.


Because of this ridiculous loss-to-win ratio, every man, woman, and child who has ever played Solitaire craves its fabled waterfall win screen, to the point where they will call in all nearby living creatures at this point, here...

Mom! Dad! Uncle Frank! Wolfie! Mailman! Aged derelict who smells of wine/urine, steals bottles from our recycling can, and I will now refer to as "Ole Toothy!" Come quick!!

... just so everyone can experience this moment, here:

We did it... We finally did it, Ole Toothy! Oh god, after so much!

Taken as a whole, Windows Solitaire is nothing more than another attempt by Bill Gates and Microsoft to dumb us down, beating us with the cushy hammer of cuteness so that we don't notice him breaking into our home, stealing our wallets, and grab-assing our daughters. It was founded as a tool to stupefy us, as Windows users, to a point where we smilingly accept whatever they feed us. It may seem fun at first, but you know what else seems fun?


Never play Solitaire again.

2/10 [?]

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- Greg Mengel

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