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Like Bejeweled Blitz before it, PopCap's Solitaire Blitz takes a classic game premise – in this case, the single-player card game Solitaire – and emphasizes bite-sized play sessions with amped-up game speed within a free-to-play structure. And just like the Bejeweled variant, Solitaire Blitz is a Facebook favorite that's an excellent match for the iPhone and iPad, not to mention incredibly tough to ignore.
Solitaire Blitz uses the original card game more as an inspiration than a framework to follow, as it gives you 60 seconds on the clock to clear the piles of cards at the bottom of the screen by matching them with cards of adjacent number or order (either up or down) from any suit at the top of the screen. The much less restrictive progression makes it possible to whip through several stacks of cards very quickly, with Solitaire Blitz awarding huge points for extended combos and maximizing every available placement opportunity. Matches may last more than the allotted starting time, as you'll earn bonus spurts along the way, but it still delivers a very quick and surprisingly thrilling solo game of cards in a couple minutes or less, and the Facebook leaderboard makes scores a welcome point of contention between pals.
Optional boosts also can add extra time or bonus cards, which give you an extra shot at the end to finish out your deck, along with offensive items that can clear cards from the screen. As a free-to-play game, Solitaire Blitz expectedly makes these available as in-app purchases, and the price points are intimidating – but we never felt the need to shell out for them. We earned enough silver coins through regular play to use the time boost with regularity, though more fervent players may see fit to shell out to use others. The same goes for the rechargeable energy vials needed to play the game. If you play a handful of games in a span and then step away for a bit, you'll never feel compelled to buy more. But for those who crave long stretches of matches, that system is bound to seem like a rather expensive barrier for enjoying the game as desired.
The bottom line. Best (and most cheaply) experienced in small bursts, Solitaire Blitz offers an engaging high-score chase disguised as a classic game of cards.
iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone running iOS 4.3 or later
Compact and exciting twist on the solitaire card game. Plays great on the iPhone and iPad. Free-to-play limits don't feel very restrictive.
Not built for long stretches of play, unless you shell out for energy.