Get your Calculation on with Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire

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It’s Pretty Girls time once again, and with Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire we have another example of the series moving a little out of its comfort zone and into somewhat more original concepts. I mean, okay, it’s still playing a solo card game while an attractive anime girl says various encouraging and/or angry things at you in Japanese, but at least the fundamental game it’s based on is one we don’t see very often.

Four Kings Solitaire is a game that is also known as Calculation, Broken Intervals, Hopscotch or La Plus Belle, just to make it immensely difficult to Google. It is noteworthy for being a solitaire game that is heavily skill-based rather than luck-based, so in contrast to some other types of solitaire, it is actually possible to “get good” at Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire.

Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire

The basic rules of Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire are that there are four “foundation” piles, much as in many other types of solitaire, and your aim is to make all of these foundations reach a King by building them up a card at a time.

The twist is that each foundation pile advances in a different way: the first advances by one number at a time, the second by two, the third by three and the fourth by four. If a pile’s sequence causes it to go past the King, it wraps back around to the Ace again, and so on until the sequence does reach a King. In all cases, this occurs after 13 cards.

In order to play Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire, you draw a single card at a time from the deck, and have the option of playing it to any of the four foundations if it fits the sequences in question, or playing it to the table. Initially, there are a number of empty slots on the table — in conventional rules, there are four, but in Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire the various difficulty levels allow you to have up to six — and playing a card to one of these slots means it’s stuck there until it can be played to one of the foundations.

Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire

There are no restrictions on what cards can be laid on the table, so the key strategy in Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire is in laying cards that aren’t immediately useful on the table in such a way that you can reclaim them easily when they are required. This is, of course, easier said than done — but this is also where the skill and strategy element of the game comes in.

To make life a little easier in Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire, you’re provided with a number of helpers. Firstly, you can use the Expose mechanic to draw five cards from the deck at once instead of the usual one; you can still only play the first one, but this does mean that you can see what is coming next and use this to plan your next moves.

Secondly, you can use the Move mechanic to “cheat” and simply place a random card from the table onto the foundation that has the least number of cards. You can do this up to five times per game.

Thirdly, once per game you can gather up all the cards from the table and shuffle them back into a new deck, providing you with another chance to draw cards and play them to more strategically advantageous locations.

Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire

Using any of these mechanics carries a time penalty — Expose is the “cheapest”, while Shuffle adds a full minute to your time — and running out of them and getting into an unwinnable situation results in a failed match. In the easier difficulty levels, where you have more free table slots to play with — and where, in the case of the easiest difficulty, one of the foundations is already completed for you — it’s generally pretty easy to succeed by making good use of these mechanics, though on the harder levels there’s still no guarantee that you’ll win.

Some long-term appeal is added to Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire through its unlock mechanics. By winning certain numbers of games at various difficulty levels, you’ll unlock new characters and outfits, and before each game you can select any of the presently unlocked characters and outfits to oversee your latest attempt.

The characters don’t do all that much aside breathing sensual encouragement and/or admonishment in Japanese at you on a fairly regular basis, but they do at least provide some replay value and visual interest to a game that could otherwise be quite dry to look at.

Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire

Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire also features the “Diorama” mode found in other more recent installments in the series, which allows you to take any of your unlocked characters and outfits and place them atop one of several different backgrounds in order to create your own custom scene. This is a little limited in that each character only has one pose and a few different facial expressions, but it’s still a fun diversion and a nice rewards after playing for a while.

Like many of the other Pretty Girls games, Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire is not a game you should think about playing to complete — even if by unlocking everything you can technically say you’ve “beaten” it. Rather, it’s simply a casual game to have on hand for when you just fancy a quick brain-bending card game for a few minutes — and in that sense it, like the other games in the series, succeeds admirably.

It’s presented well, it plays well and it’s fun — and this time around it has the added bonus of being based on a solitaire card game we rarely see given much love. In other words, it fits perfectly into the rest of the Pretty Girls series, and is yet another eminently worthwhile addition to your lineup of casual games.

Pretty Girls Four Kings Solitaire is available now for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. Thanks to eastasiasoft for the review code.

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Pete Davison
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