Ahh… so relaxing… nothing like a good game of peg solitaire. What? There's a peg solitaire game on the Lynx? For FREE? Oooh boy! Alright then. Well, let's take a good look at this downloadable ROM… aptly named… 'Peg Solitaire', by Jasper Van Turnhout. And hey… that's a really nice title screen!
To play a game of peg solitaire, it's remarkably simple; everyone can learn the game very quickly. All you have to do is jump over one peg with another peg. The peg that has been jumped over will then disappear. The art is to get rid of all the pegs except for the last 'jumper' peg. Then you win the game. With Jasper's Atari Lynx peg solitaire game, you get a couple of different shaped boards to play on: English, European, Wiegled, Assymetrical and Diamond.
Visually, peg solitaire games are usually boring and one dimensional affairs. Not so 'Peg Solitaire'! In a fantastic graphical move, Jasper's little game has some nicely digitized castles and grand houses for you to look at as you play. This is best seen in the title screen shot, but you'll also see glimpses of these images in the background of your playing board. This playing board, upon which the pegs sit, is a simple but visually appropriate board upon which to play, as would be expected in a game of this kind. The entire effect of the game board with the digitized backgrounds is very nicely done.
Though it initially appears there is no sound for this title, choosing a board type and entering a game will invite a very relaxing tune that is akin to the 'Columns' theme song, across that game's many iterations. It's a cracking little tune, and immediately puts you into a calm but concentrative mindset to tackle the day's puzzle. There don't appear to be any other individual effects, but this doesn't matter much given the nice musical soundscape that is occurring in the background. Though the in-game music doesn't change nor let you choose different tracks (a la 'Shanghai'), it's difficult to think that anyone could tire of this nice little track anyway.
Controls, naturally, are as simple as they would be desired in a game of this nature. It's just a matter of hopping the pegs over each other, which is done by using the red ringed interface with the d-pad. Then one of your buttons will place the peg, eliminating the one you jumped over instantly. An "illegal move" will be announced if you try and put a peg too far away or in an impossible location. Although the game won't tell you when you've made a board "unbeatable" (impossible to complete), it's easy to see why a board is now unable to be finished and just as easy to restart your game (pressing a purposed button in-game). It's worth mentioning that the board selection screen, which doubles as the title screen, is also neat and straightforward control-wise.
So when it all comes down to it, 'Peg Solitaire' puts forward a nicely presented package that gives the player some nice options and keeps things relaxed and low-key. Any improvements I would have liked to see? Probably the only things would be the afore-mentioned choice of backing music, some peg-placement sound effects, and some additional boards. But it's hard to be disappointed with the product you get here. There's variety; there's fun; there's awesome graphics; and the whole thing feels cohesive and straightforward, without a bug in sight. If you were looking for a really low-key and chilled out puzzler experience to play inside while the rain pours behind your window, 'Peg Solitaire' could easily be a top pick.
Overall, 'Peg Solitaire' does exactly what it sets out to do, and does it well. It's pleasing to play a game that is just well done. And this game really is. There are no complicating factors at all. Just jump those pegs, and see if you used the winning formula to clear the whole board. If not, just start again, and enjoy the sights and sounds. Games don't need to always be complicated, and games don't always need a big instructional manual. Sometimes, games just need to be simple and fun, and 'Peg Solitaire' is. Nicely done!Score Card
This review was submitted by Jon Mc from JMac Productions