Plenty of developers have played with the conventions of solitaire, although mostly by hanging basic card-sorting games on free-to-play titles full of cartoon characters. Sage Solitaire is a much more minimal affair, but one specifically designed for your iPhone in portrait orientation. Developer Zach Gage asked why, when you have a phone that's not the size of a table, most traditional solitaire efforts ape the typical Klondike and FreeCell layouts, using tiny cards (in order to fit them all on the screen) and overly familiar strategies. His answer: a three-by-three grid, quite a bit of poker, and a virtual trip to Vegas.
In the basic Sage Solitaire game, you score by removing poker hands. The better the hand, the more points you get. Strategy comes by way of a rule that states you must use cards from multiple rows for each hand. With the stacks at the top of the screen being taller than those at the bottom, the latter's cards are best used sparingly. In addition, a randomly allocated suit is set as a multiplier, bestowing double points when one or more of its cards is used in a hand, and two 'trashes' exist to remove individual cards; one is replenished after each successful hand.
The Vegas mode, unlocked on clearing the entire board three times, gives you a virtual bank account, awards cash prizes only when using the multiplier hand, and ups your overall payout multiplier on clearing piles from the top two rows. Subtly different strategies are required for success, hence the initial lockdown - it's very easy to otherwise burn through your limited funds. But once you crack Vegas and hit $800, you can try your hand at True Grit. There, once your in-game money's gone, it's gone for good.
Note that there's no horrible IAP to refill your virtual coffers. The game's sole IAP (£2.29/$2.99) exists purely to unlock two further modes (Double Deck and Fifteens), remove the (unobtrusive) ads, provide stats tracking, and give you some achievements to aim for. Craig Grannell
There's a disconnect between the aesthetics of Seashine and its gameplay - and this initially makes for a rather strange experience. The game takes place in the inky depths of an unnamed ocean. Your tiny luminescent jellyfish has a glow that offers the only light to penetrate its surroundings. But the light is fragile and in constant danger of being extinguished.
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