Chef Solitaire USA
With titles like Legends of Solitaire and Legends of Solitaire 2 already under their belt, not to mention a few others, it is clear that The Revills Games knows a thing or two about Solitaire. Players who enjoy solitaire, but are not into swords and sorcery will be happy to hear that the team is back with a brand new theme. This time the action shifts to a woman named Stacy who sells her ailing bookstore in order to open her own restaurant. From her humble beginnings in Mississippi you must help Stacy make a success of her restaurant and expand to other states, all with the power of solitaire.
Legends of Solitaire: Curse of the Dragons was released on Steam a while back and we really enjoyed its setting and addictive gameplay. Chef Solitaire is every bit as enjoyable, but instead of simply switching around the visuals the developers have actually made the theme an integral part of the game. Chef Solitaire still uses the same one-up, one-down solitaire play style, which means most players will be able to jump right in and have fun. You simply click on the cards that are a number higher or lower than the face up foundation cards or click the draw pile when there are no more cards left on the board to play. The game is spread across 48 states with ten rounds each, which means there are a whopping 480 rounds of solitaire on offer. Completing everything can keep you busy for quite a while and it is a relaxing way to unwind and decrease your stress.
Your goal on each round is to uncover the cards marked with chef hats while building huge combos and earning stars. The stars are used to unlock new states, but along the way you also earn money that can be used to purchase new items from the kitchen store. Building up big combos increases your multiplier, which in turn results in more money awarded at the end of the round. You need to match six or more cards in a row to start a combo and bonus money can also be earned when selecting cards that are the same suite as the foundation card. The shop can only be accessed between rounds, but contain useful items like the menu board that allows you to collect a wild card, ladle that bestows an extra undo, meat cleaver that randomly removes a playable card and much more. Items only need to be purchased once to take advantage of their special abilities although three of the items, the cleaver, pepper grinder and wooden spoon, has to recharge between uses.
Sticking with the whole chef theme the game also throws a couple of extra obstacles in your path. Some cards are covered by ingredients, such as an egg, grease, bacon rashes or onions that need to be removed first to access the cards underneath. For example, to remove a fried egg from a stack of cards you first need to find the spatula card that is located elsewhere on the board, while for the bacon rashes you need the tongs card. To provide a break from the solitaire the game also features certain cards that activate restaurant themed mini-games when uncovered. These are all played against a timer and while relatively simple make for a nice change of pace. From a memory match style mini-game where you flip cards to reveal ingredients to one where you assemble burgers based on customer orders these mini-games are all quite fun. They are not essential to clearing boards, but do earn you some extra cash for the restaurant shop. You can also select freeplay, TriPeaks and Five Peaks mini-games from the main menu if you ever tire of the story mode.
Chef Solitaire doesn’t feature the companions or limited use items found in the Legends of Solitaire game and neither can you build up a large stack of wild cards to help out. This means that the game actually feels a bit more challenging than Legends of Solitaire, which is a good thing. The game still features multiple difficulty settings, so players more interested in relaxing than being challenged can still opt for a lower setting. Visually the game looks nice with widescreen support and well-drawn characters as well as backgrounds. Some of the backgrounds are re-used quite a bit, but considering the sheer amount of rounds in the game this is understandable. Everything is bold and colorful, so much so that the “dessert bar” mini-game gave us sweet cravings with its scrumptious drawings of tasty treats! The audio is also very good and features relaxing tunes along with some nice voice acting for the story portions.
As with any solitaire game, Chef Solitaire: USA is probably not going to make fans out of players who don’t like the genre. However, solitaire aficionados or players looking for a great way to kill a couple of hours will find a solid, polished and addictive version of the popular card game.
The full version of Chef Solitaire: USA as well as a free one hour trial can be found on the Big Fish Games website, *
but the developers are also looking for Greenlight support to get the game on Steam. We suggest playing the free trial to get a feel for the game and then giving the game a thumbs up on Steam Greenlight.
*Update: Chef Solitaire: USA is now also available on Steam after a successful Greenlight campaign.