King.com’s “Saga” series of games makes up some of the most consistently popular titles on Facebook, and between them they have covered a wide variety of puzzle genres so far. Pyramid Solitaire Saga is the latest addition to the collection, following the popular solitaire format seen in titles such as Subsoap’s Faerie Solitaire, Big Fish Games’ Fairway Solitaire and PopCap’s Solitaire Blitz.
Pyramid Solitaire Saga’s take on Solitaire involves a predefined arrangement of cards stacked in a Mahjong-style arrangement, with some or all of them face-up. Players must remove cards by playing a card from their deck that is one higher or lower than the card they are trying to remove, but may only play onto cards which are not partially or completely covered. If no cards can be played, the player draws cards from the deck one at a time until they can play.
The ultimate goal of each level is to remove all of the specially-marked “scarab” cards from the board while scoring enough points to get at least a one-star rating. Some levels also have additional objectives such as finishing the round with at least a certain number of cards remaining in the deck, or removing a chain of a certain number of cards without drawing. Failing to remove all the scarabs, attain a one-star rating or complete an objective causes the player to lose a life. They must then retry the level if they have lives available, or wait to recover if they do not. Players can also ask friends for additional lives or purchase a full set — they cannot, at this time, purchase lives that will take them over the upper limit.
As the game progresses, players gain access to various “charms” which make levels a little easier. Some of these must be crafted using gems that the player acquires through play, while others are permanent and must be unlocked using Facebook Credits. The functions of these charms vary from having additional cards in the draw deck at the start of play to being able to shuffle all visible cards on the screen.
It would be easy to dismiss Pyramid Solitaire Saga as a simple clone of Solitaire Blitz (which, in turn, some might accuse of being a clone of Faerie and Fairway Solitaires) but in practice the level-based structure gives the game a very different feel to the more frantic “time attack” gameplay of PopCap’s title. Players can take their time over levels rather than rushing to clear as many cards as possible as fast as they can. It also gives a sense of progression in gameplay beyond simply competing with friends, which is good for those players who prefer to concentrate on their own performance rather than how they shape up against their rivals.
Coupled with the pleasant (if unremarkable) graphics and sound along with King.com’s solid but unobtrusive monetization strategy, Pyramid Solitaire Saga looks set to be another strong title for the publisher. With 820,000 MAU and 380,000 DAU already, the game is off to a good start — it will be interesting to see if it matches its stablemates over the coming months.
King.com’s skills at user acquisition will likely make this fun (if relatively unoriginal) solitaire title a big success.