Radical Solitaire

Developer: Vector Hat
Publisher: Vector Hat
Steam / Google Play / itch.io

Reviewed on Android (Google Play) and PC (Steam)
Time Played So Far: About 3 Hours

Quick Impression: Your favorite time-waster, now 3000% more radical and irrevocably pachinko-infused.

I lost my license to name things many years ago, when I told a friend that fans should be called “artificial wind machines.” That being said, had naming this little banger of a game been up to me, I would have christened it Heretical Solitaire, because in addition to being totally radical, it’s also guaranteed to drive solitaire purists bonkers.

Radical Solitaire makes a strong first impression. Visually speaking, it’s like your dad’s solitaire application bummed a ride to the Burning Man festival, went skinny-dipping in a vat of acid, and then baked under the desert sun for seven days straight. Colors clash, palettes shift at random, and pixels zig and zag about. The whole thing looks absolutely fried. (There are options to tone down the gnarly aesthetic, but would you really want to?)

Never hesitate to Get Rad

The graphics are just window dressing, however. What really makes this card game radical is the rules. At any time, you can drag a card from the stock pile and drop it onto the “Get Rad” box. What does getting radical entail? In this case, it means playing a minigame to swap one card for another. No moves left on the board? Just get radical and all your troubles will fade away.

Because there’s no limit to the number of times you can get radical per game, victory is always within reach. There’s never a bad deal and there’s never a losing position. A little patience and luck with the minigames will extricate you from even the most hopeless of hands.

Mobile-version nag screen: Like ads but totally tubular

The minigames themselves range from innocuous to mildly entertaining. Classics like Minesweeper, Snake, and Pong all make appearances. Some games let you choose a specific card, while others provide a new card at random. If you don’t get a useful card on your first try, don’t fret: You’re free play again and again and again until you uncover the ace you need.

By now you can surely see why this game is heretical. If you’re a solitaire purist, just reading about it might cause hazy wisps of smoke to curl up from your ears. How dare this game call itself solitaire? It’s an affront to the entire genre of solo card games!

It’s brick-breaking time!

While I sympathize with that opinion, there’s another part of me that thinks the idea behind this game is radically brilliant. Because, really, who plays solitaire to do anything more than waste a bit of time? Is it a cardinal sin to cheat at this classic time-waster instead of playing it straight? Solitaire is a solo game, after all – who am I hurting when I go fishing for a better card? The spirit of my solitaire-addicted great aunt? Certainly she has more important matters to concern herself with, like choosing the variety of ghost pie she wants to bake this Halloween.