Solitaire∙ by Naquatic icon

Solitaire∙ ($0.99) by Naquatic is unlike any card game you’ve ever played that doesn’t use a real deck of cards.

Growing up, and growing older, we’ve all played our fair share of card games. Solitaire is a popular and tricky game that involves matching columns of cards in descending order. The game can be quite overwhelming for newcomers, so I would suggest checking out a tutorial on the Web to get a feel for the game.

Solitaire∙ by Naquatic screenshot

That being said, one of the big flaws in Solitaire Zen is the lack of a tutorial page. Having a quick run through of the rules of solitaire when you first play the game would help make it more accessible to new players. Nevertheless, it isn’t too difficult to learn the ropes on your own.

In terms of controls, Solitaire Zen is pretty standard. You touch and drag to move cards around. Beyond that, Solitaire Zen is truly unique. Everything from the menus to the card table itself is placed in the center of a peaceful, old style village. While you can’t actually move around, you do have the option of enabling gyroscope controls to look around while you play.

At first, this ability to look around provides a nice break from the cards. If you get stuck you can check out the village and listen to the birds chirping. But, after a while, it tends to make your neck a bit sore and can get a little annoying. Thankfully, Naquatic included the ability to disable the gyroscope controls. This locks the camera into a standard top-down view of the card set.

Solitaire∙ by Naquatic screenshot

Considering replay value, Solitaire Zen’s online leaderboard will keep you coming back for more. You have the option of playing online or offline, with online play rewarding you with XP for your progress. When playing online, you will level up and make your way up the leaderboards. This feature provides some extra incentive to keep playing.

Personally, there are a few things that could be added to make Solitare Zen more enjoyable. Like I said earlier, a brief tutorial screen would be helpful. Also, it would cool to have some stats, like total games played, games won, and cards dealt, stored for your viewing pleasure. These kinds of things add extra depth to a game, and I think that might be just what Solitaire Zen needs.

With its gyroscope camera view, Solitaire Zen managed to teach new tricks to an old dog (I know, that’s pretty lame). With online leaderboards and a level-based system, there is plenty of incentive to keep playing apart from the desire to just play cards. Solitaire Zen is universal and features full Retina display support for the new iPad. In other words, it’s a game for all card lovers.