Prolific localiser and publisher eastasiasoft has been having a productive relationship with Japanese developer Zoo Corporation of late, with Pretty Girls Klondike Solitaire rounding off an initial round of console ports that also includes Bishoujo Battle Cyber Panic, Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire and Poker Pretty Girls Battle.
Zoo Corporation is a company that has been around for many years at this point, with their portfolio including a Super NES puzzle game that was misattributed to Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov, an extensive series of nukige via their imprints Norn, Cybele, Miel and Yumesta and, err, medical prescription systems. Well, it’s nice to have a lot of strings to your bow.
The various casual games Zoo Corporation has put out on PC (and which have now been ported to console by eastasiasoft) all make use of character designs previously seen in the aforementioned nukige, but don’t expect any plot here; these girls are purely eye candy to provide an incentive to succeed. And no, Zoo Corporation has always been keen to point out that despite the origins of many of these characters, there is no actual nudity or explicit sexual activity in any of their casual games.
Pretty Girls Klondike Solitaire is exactly what it sounds like. Using pretty much the exact same game setup as Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire, you’re presented with a selection of pretty girls to play Klondike Solitaire “against”; succeeding in clearing the tableau causes the girl to gradually change into a new costume. Your ultimate aim is to unlock all the costumes for all the girls, and unlock several secret characters (and their costumes) in the process.
Klondike Solitaire, for those unfamiliar with the name, is the most common form of the solo card game sometimes known as “patience”, and perhaps best known as Windows Solitaire, thanks to its inclusion in most versions of Microsoft Windows from version 3 onwards.
It’s the one where you have stacks of cards that you have to alternate going red-black-red-black and ultimately bear off all the cards in numerical order into four “foundation” stacks. Even if you’ve never heard it called Klondike Solitaire before, you have almost certainly played it before, whether it was while ignoring the teacher during a computer class at school, or ignoring your boss during a particularly boring meeting at work.
Pretty Girls Klondike Solitaire provides a pleasingly streamlined form of Klondike Solitaire to enjoy. You have the option of clicking and dragging the cards to your desired positions if you want, but simply tapping on them (if playing in handheld on Switch) or clicking on them with the on-screen cursor (in docked mode) automatically moves them to their optimal location, be that as part of the tableau or one of the foundation stacks.
There are three difficulty levels at which you can play Pretty Girls Klondike Solitaire. Both Easy and Normal see you drawing from the deck just one card at a time, making it much easier and more likely to pull out the card you want when you need it; Hard mode, meanwhile, adopts the more commonly seen ruleset of drawing three at a time.
That’s not the only difference, though. Both Easy and Normal mode provide a limited number of what are effectively “cheats”. These include hints, which highlight the moves that are available to you — though this doesn’t necessarily indicate which ones are actually useful — as well as the opportunity to shuffle the face-down cards in the tableau up with the ones in the deck and redistribute them, or draw a single card from the face-down cards in the tableau and immediately use it.
By making sensible use of these abilities, it’s fairly unlikely you’ll run into an unwinnable situation in the Easy and Normal modes of Pretty Girls Klondike Solitaire, making this an enjoyably chilled out experience that is more a means of gently occupying your mind than anything else. Hard mode offers a bit more of a challenge, but it’s still just Klondike Solitaire as you’ve always known it; the stakes are low, and if things go wrong, you just deal ’em out again and start over.
The initial girls each have just one costume to unlock by “beating” them, but as you progress further and unlock the secret characters, they have more outfits to discover. This is one area where Pretty Girls Klondike Solitaire is a little clunkier than Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire; in the latter, you could see which costumes you still had to unlock directly from the character select screen, while in Pretty Girls Klondike Solitaire, you have to exit out to the main menu and check the Dressing Room option to see how many you have left to discover. Not a huge deal, but Delicious! Pretty Girls Mahjong Solitaire did it better.
There’s also a couple of minor little bugs in the version of Pretty Girls Klondike Solitaire we received for review on Nintendo Switch; firstly, upon completing a stage, the button to take you back to the stage select screen is unselectable in docked mode, meaning pressing a button to continue simply takes you into a new session with the same girl. Exiting out causes an automatic save — and when picking a new girl to start with, it prompts you to say whether or not you want to restart from your saved position.
Unfortunately, a little fault in the game logic means that when you move the cursor right to select “no”, it also moves the difficulty selector behind this prompt, meaning you’ll end up playing your new game at a higher difficulty level than you intended.
Neither of these faults are game-breaking — the latter can be sidestepped by exiting back out to the main menu rather than immediately selecting another girl from the character select screen, while the former is not an issue during handheld touchscreen play — but hopefully they will be patched out in fairly short order. Eastasiasoft’s work is usually of high quality, so it’s a shame to see a couple of little issues like this slip through the cracks; as noted, though, these aren’t game-breakers by any means.
As for whether this is worth your time and money… well, that all depends on your attitude towards Klondike Solitaire, I suppose. With how common Klondike Solitaire is as a game, chances are you have it on at least one device you have ready access to already — but does that version have pretty girls with big honkin’ donkeridoos and a delightful soundtrack that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Namco game from 1998? I thought not.
As with the other Zoo Corporation games that eastasiasoft has brought to console, Pretty Girls Klondike Solitaire is a great game to have on hand for when you just have a few minutes to play,don’t want to have to engage your brain too much and are in the mood for a shot of candy-coloured happiness. This makes it an ideal fit for the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode in particular — so if that’s the kind of experience you fancy, this is a safe addition to your library.
Pretty Girls Klondike Solitaire is available now for PS4, PS5 and Nintendo Switch. The European eShop link doesn’t appear to be live at the time of writing, but watch out for it later. Thanks to eastasiasoft for the review copy.
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