It’s your friendly KF on KND Editor April Hamilton here. As promised, today we kick off a new regular feature to share reviews of Amazon Underground apps: it may be free, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth your time.
First up: Dikobraz Games’ Solitaire Mystery apps.
Note that like many of the Underground apps I’ll be reviewing here, the Solitaire Mystery apps were hit with a slew of 1-star reviews when Underground first launched but was not yet available to Fire tablet owners. Many Fire owners took their anger out on the apps, and as a result many Underground apps now have unfairly low average review ratings.
This game app offers many different Solitaire card game layouts to solve, some played with card matching to mimic Mahjong, and throws in some hidden object screens and mini-puzzles. There’s a background storyline, but it’s a little thin and doesn’t add much to the game.
In this Underground version all levels are unlocked, as is the ‘fortune telling’ feature, which uses regular playing cards in place of Tarot cards to tell your fortune in your choice of four different life areas. It’s a practice dating back to the 14th century, shortly after playing cards first came into wide use, and it’s interesting in that respect.
The old-fashioned artwork is beautiful and gameplay is smooth. Solitaire levels increase in difficulty through the addition of layouts where part of the spread is locked until you’ve collected certain cards. Hints are unlimited.
The companion ‘Four Seasons’ Solitaire app from the same developer is also available in the Underground program, in both HD and SD versions.
This app is very much like the Hidden Power app, in terms of features and gameplay (it includes the fortune telling feature as well), but it has a LOT more levels of Solitaire play.
The only issue I had with this one is that certain layouts are actually impossible to solve unless you get the right combination of exposed cards at the start of the layout. I had gotten pretty frustrated after trying to solve one of these impossible layouts (about 1/3 of the way through the app) and failing it fifteen times in a row; I was ready to give up on the app when I realized that, after failing to solve a certain layout twice in a row, you can skip it by tapping the double-arrow icon to the right of the Undo link, at the left of the draw deck.
It’s confusing because the “Undo” text right next to the skip icon makes it seem like tapping that icon will undo your last move, it’s not at all clear that it’s possible to skip a level. Even though I was playing with the tutorial mode turned on, this option was never pointed out to me and I only figured it out by chance.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
The varying layouts and beautiful artwork go a long way toward keeping the Solitaire levels from getting monotonous, but I wasn’t crazy about the hidden object and puzzle levels.
The hidden object items in Hidden Power includes pictures that are matched via “relatedness” (e.g., a picture of a Russian palace is matched to one of Russian nesting dolls). Tapping a ‘to find’ item in your assigned list pops up a name for the item, but none of the items in the picture you’re searching do the same. This makes it hard to figure out a match at times, and at least once per puzzle even after seeing which object I was supposed to tap, the match didn’t make sense to me. In Four Seasons the hidden object screens are more straightforward, but not too interesting.
Regarding the puzzles, what few were there were all very good, though some were so simple to solve they hardly qualify as puzzles at all. I would’ve liked to have fewer hidden object screens and more puzzles, with the challenge factor a little higher on the puzzles.
The storylines in both were sort of silly and the text includes some errors that seem to hint the developer is not a native English speaker. I’d have preferred to dispense with the storyline altogether and just solve the Solitaire spreads, hidden object scenes and puzzles.
I ended up playing both of these apps all the way through to the end, and would recommend them highly to fans of Solitaire.