Fabulous Handheld Spider

I’m getting ready to go on vacation, so of course I checked out new games I can load onto my Pocket PC and bring with me. I’ve been addicted to Spider on my PC for a few years now, but never found a good implementation of it on a handheld until now. But Astraware has finally done it – made a version of Spider that’s actually playable on a handheld.

It’s hard to do – the screen is small, and you can’t use handy keyboard shortcuts for hint or undo like you can on a desktop. But they’ve solved the problem with a mode that shows all available moves, so you don’t have to go to the menu to see each one (why didn’t Microsoft do this in their version? It’s so obvious once you think of it), and an Undo button right on the screen. The cards are as big as they can be, and the stacks resize as they fill up.

This is a lesson in usability for handheld developers. (No, I’m not playing games. I’m learning about usability. Really.) There are 12 different solitaire games in the package, and it looks like the others are just as well implemented. Brilliant job, Astraware. And thank you – the flights and airport are going to be a lot more bearable for me now.

7 thoughts on “Fabulous Handheld Spider

  1. Kevin White

    I found myself at the airport a few years back, with my Axim X5 at the time. With nothing to do, I found myself trying to play solitaire on it. I quickly found out that I didn’t know how to play solitaire. Worse, Microsoft didn’t include help on how to play it. I guess they assumed everyone knew how to play solitaire.

    I also do not know how to play euchre, which is one of those card games Michiganders like. Part of the reason I don’t know how to play is that whenever someone tries to explain it, I have the sudden urge to fall asleep.

  2. spmwinkel

    Some of the games are really strong, but there’s also Clock that doesn’t really have a lot of exciting gameplay. That still leaves a LOT of good card games though, and I’ve spend lots and lots of hours to complete the game. And even then you can keep on playing, so it’s great value for the money!

  3. Judy

    I must admit I like to have a few games on my handheld in case of delayed flights etc.

    Some years ago I did some beta testing for Paragon and ended up with a copy of their ‘One for All Solitaires Collection” (This has since been revamped into “Can’t Stop Solitaires Collection”). It contains about 250 different games – addmitedly some are a very slight variation on others but all come with a set of rules etc. Thankfully, once you have identified your favourites, you can put them in a separate folder for quicker access.

    Their version of spider (and indeed all games where it is appropriate) shows an undo icon on the screen which is handy and you can also opt to show certain other buttons such as ‘collect all’.

    By the way, I’m not trying to market their product for them – I have no connections with Paragon – in fact the developer I was beta-testing for left there a long time ago!

    I find their ganes are fairly useable but then I’m not a real connoseur!

  4. Netconcepts

    I hope it’s better than the spider solitaire cersion that Dell put on my XPS 420 desktop lcd screen. Why the heck did desktop manufacturers put small lcd screenson top of desktops? The only time I looked at it was when I first booted up the machine and attempted to play spider solitaire for 24 seconds. I’ve never used it again because it’s not convenient.

    Spider solitaire works better on a device like the Palm Pilot.

  5. Dave Beauvais

    I have so many of Astraware’s games, it’s crazy. I have to admit that after switching to a Windows Mobile 6 Standard device, many of them are not nearly as enjoyable to play as they were on touchscreen-equipped Pocket PC devices, though. Bejeweled 2 and Hexic are still nice time-killers, but the tedium of having to move the selector using the direction pad is annoying, and the nearly constant “click-click-click-click-click…” of the D-pad buttons gets quite irritating. I realize that without a touchscreen there’s only so much you can do in terms of game control, so I don’t fault them for that.

    That said, this post prompted me to download the Astraware Solitaire demo to try out because the Solitaire game included in my BlackJack II is so hideously ugly and cumbersome to play. I mean really, with hundreds of shades of green from which to choose, did someone really have to choose that blindingly bright green for the game background?

  6. Dave Beauvais

    Hmm… so if you get a 403 error when clicking that screenshot link, just click the “Go” button in your browser’s address bar. The image “hotlink” protection I had to enable on my domain seems to be preventing me from linking directly to the image. I’ll fix that after I’ve gotten some sleep. :-)

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