Fairway Solitaire

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Fairway Solitaire

Game designers prove they’re anything but green Platform: Windows Vista/XP/2000

A great puzzle game is one your brain continues to play on your eyelids long after you’ve finished.

Fairway Solitaire is such a game. It’s a golf sim disguised as a card game—or is it the other way around? Each hole on its 70 courses contains a different layout of cards to be cleared. The simple premise belies remarkable complexity: Remove cards only in sequential order, or draw a new one from your pile. Leaving cards on the board results in a score above par—and the remonstration of the crowd.

The core mechanics are so well conceived that Fairway Solitaire’s polished presentation seems almost superfluous. Yet the development team has accomplished something remarkable, rendering artful visuals and high-fidelity audio. No, the game probably didn’t need ambient sounds unique to each course, nor a witty commentator. But a game this unexpected never seems necessary until you play it.