Back on my old blog, I used to review a variety of different things, usually stuff that caught my fancy somehow. Movies, books, video games, that sort of thing. Well, seeing as the “Big Game” was this past Sunday, I figured it’d be good to restart my reviews by taking a look at Gridiron Solitaire, a game that was recently released through Steam.
The game’s mechanics are pretty simple. For just about every play, you’re presented with a number of cards. You then match the cards just like you do in a game of solitaire. For example, if you have a red five, you can match it to a black four or a black six. There are wild cards that can be matched to any other card. When you make a match, you either advance the football if you’re on offense, or drive back the other team if you’re on defense.
In many ways, the game plays like a normal football game, but one that’s been stripped down and simplified. Instead of ten yards to get a first down, it’s forty instead. You automatically get the extra point. Plays only fall into two categories, pass or run, both for defense and offense. This is actually a plus, because each game can be played very quickly in about ten to twenty minutes. If you want to rush to the end of the season, you can sim the games.
There are a number of teams that the player can choose from (none from the actual NFL, naturally), each one with different rankings when it comes to passing, running, defense, and so on. I’m not sure how those rankings affect the gameplay. They do, I know that much for sure, but the process is shrouded in mystery.
Perhaps the toughest part of the game is how the player has to try to guess what the opposing team is going to do on offense. This can have a big impact on the game. At the beginning of each play, the computer chooses what its team will do. If the player guesses correctly, the computer only advances the ball 12 yards (which can be pulled back by matching cards). If the player guesses incorrectly, then the computer advances the ball 25 yards (which can, again, be reduced by matching cards). I’m sure there’s a way to guess better, based on the team’s offensive rankings and where they are in terms of getting a first down, but again, this is beyond me right now. There have been games where I probably could have done a better job calling defense by flipping a coin. But then, there are games where it feels like I almost have it figured out.
To be honest, that uncertainty caused a bit of frustration in me. I almost uninstalled the game and gave up on it. But I’m glad I didn’t. There are a lot of little touches to the game that makes it a lot of fun. For example, if one team is getting shellacked by the other, that team’s fans will leave the stadium early. As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I’ve seen that in real life lots of times. At the end of every game, a newspaper will give a summary of the game that’s extremely accurate in describing what happened (i.e. a come-from-behind win, a close game that was only determined at the last minute, that sort of thing). And, like I said, the game has grown on me. I still don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to play calling, but I still find myself coming back to see how my beloved “Minnesota Minotaurs” will do from season to season.
So if you like football and are looking for a fun game that simulates it well, this is a good game to try out.