Fairway Solitaire is a new casual card game that (miraculous as it may seem) blends solitaire with golf. Don't let that trick you into thinking it's a dull game filled with white gloves and whispering announcers. Fairway Solitaire is as funny, bright and entertaining as any casual game out there. And with its slightly new take on some familiar themes, it's worth heading out on the green and sinking a few holes.
Several rows of cards sit face-down on the screen with the bottom ones turned face-up. A deck with a single key card at its side rests at the bottom. The goal is to eliminate cards by placing them on the key card, but you can only remove cards that are one above or one below the key card value. For example, if the key card is a five of hearts, you can slide a four or a six of any color or suit on top of it. Move as many cards as you can before clicking the deck for a new key card. When the deck is depleted, the round ends. The game holds your hand for a number of rounds (or "holes") to get you warmed up, but you'll get the hang of things very quickly.
Fortunately for us, Fairway Solitaire doesn't keep things that simple. Golf-themed obstacles are par for the course in this game, so get used to running across sand traps and water hazards while clicking playing cards. Each obstacle causes a different problem, such as locking a row of cards until you play a buried card, but it's always something creative and a little bit fun. You earn cash for removing cards from play as well as achieving "long drives" (playing six or more cards on the key card without shuffling the deck). With the cash you can buy accessories and clothing to give you an extra edge on the green.
Fairway Solitaire isn't afraid to mess with its own rules. Sometimes every card in a row will be face-up, while other times there won't be rows at all. This works both for and against you, as sometimes removing one card turns over two, but you must play both of them to reach the card below. Ultimately, though, your fate is one part skill, two parts luck of the draw.
Analysis: If you ask me, both golf and solitaire have a reputation for being a bit bland, and I've never been a big fan of either in a casual game format. You can't argue with what Fairway Solitaire does with a golf-themed card game, however. Its fun, light-hearted atmosphere never forgets the odd combination of games that make up the experience.
Beyond gameplay, Fairway Solitaire has a very satisfying presentation. The visuals are crisp and pleasing with a nice blend of golf settings and a cartoon-like art style. During the main game there is no music, just the sound of the wind in your ears and birds chirping in the distance. Playing cards, clicking menu buttons, etc. also produce very crisp sound effects which, on some deep level, are strangely satisfying. And the announcer is a perfect mix of cheerfulness and humor.
Much more than the sum of its parts, Fairway Solitaire is a bright, interesting and wholly fun casual game.