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Publisher: Freeverse    Genre: Board & Card
Min OS X: 10.1    RAM: 64 MB    Hard Disk: 200 MB

Burning Monkey Solitaire 2005
May 25, 2005 | Michael Phillips

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For many years, whenever I thought of Solitaire I thought of my 70 year-old aunt Mimi, sitting at the kitchen table with her deck of cards, Ritz crackers and cup of hot cocoa. She'd quietly sit and play for at least an hour, every single night. It was kind of cute and kind of depressing all at once. In any case, it never made me feel like Solitaire was a "happenin'" game. However, thanks to the folks at Freeverse Software and their Burning Monkey Solitaire series, my view of Solitaire was forever changed for the better. My love of Solitaire has been even further enhanced by the series' latest incarnation, Burning Monkey Solitaire 2005 (BMS05).

Gameplay: Literally More Fun than a Barrel of Monkeys
Since the dawn of time, simians of every persuasion have enjoyed Solitaire. Monkeys will sit for endless hours, watching and heckling as we humans play Solitaire. Thus is the case in Burning Monkey Solitaire 2005; as the player plays, the monkeys watch and taunt. The game features 26 flavors of Solitaire, lush 32-bit graphics, hysterical audio effects, more hidden secrets than monkeys have diseases, online score tracking and an hilarious band of apes and chimps that have absolutely no desire to taste human flesh. What Solitaire game can offer that?

First, we'll cover the 26 variations of Solitaire. Just as in the game of Poker, Solitaire sports a multitude of game types, the best of which are contained in BMS05. For example, one can play Klondike, Solitaire's most widely known incarnation. In Klondike, players must build columns of cards in descending order with alternating suit colors. Ergo, a Red Queen must be placed below a Black King, with a Black Jack below her and so on. When all 52 cards are placed in their rows, the player wins. For those looking for more exotic Solitaire fare, BMS05 is host to games like Pyramid. In this game, cards are placed in the shape of, yep, a pyramid! The player must discard pairs of cards that add up to 13 until the pyramid is gone and victory is achieved. Pyramid is my personal favorite type of Solitaire, as I tend to win more than I lose. Another interesting Solitaire incarnation is The Wish. In The Wish, players are asked to make a wish and then match cards until all 32 reside in the discard pile. If all cards are successfully matched, one's wish is said to come true. For each game, a few of which are rather complex, BMS05 has a built-in help system that explains the key rules of play.

Aside from the plethora of game types, Burning Monkey Solitaire 2005 is filled with hysterical monkey antics. Throughout each game of Solitaire, the monkey on-lookers tell jokes, sometimes-awful jokes, but jokes just the same. My favorite being, "Monkey walk into bar, monkey say ouch!" The monkeys also like to spout universal truths, like, "99% of all lawyers give the rest a bad name." Furthermore, in order to keep things fresh, new jokes and monkey witticisms may be automatically downloaded via the Internet. Besides jokes and adages, BMS05 is packed with dozens of secret monkey surprises. There are a number of clickable hot spots within the game that deliver amusing animations and sound bites. However, Burning Monkey Solitaire 2005's most hilarious secrets are discovered by way of keyboard commands. By typing certain words, players are treated to some laugh out loud monkey frolicking. For instance, the word, "SINK", will have players dancing until they're knocked unconscious! Lastly, Burning Monkey Solitaire 2005 supports Internet score tracking, allowing players to compare their card slinging skills against the entire BMS05 community. BMS05 will also automatically connect to the internet and update its own jokes and antics as new content as it becomes available. This game definitely isn't a typical Solitaire experience and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Graphics: 32-bit Aces and Apes
Burning Monkey Solitaire 2005 is probably Freeverse's most impressive work of art. The monkeys are whimsically rendered in rich 32-bit color, the card decks are delightfully crafted and the various simian animations are wonderfully cartoonish. There are also several card decks, ranging from Alice in Wonderland to decks featuring all the Freeverse mascots. The amount of time Freeverse spent on this game really shows. They've taken what's normally the world's most boring game and turned it into a visual masterpiece. A Solitaire game has never looked so good.

Sound: Aimee Mann Sings to the Chimps
Aurally, Burning Monkey Solitaire 2005 is Aces. Each animation is accompanied by entertaining sound effects. Monty the Freeverse spokes-monkey even speaks to players of his unending search for his tacos. BMS05 also features a 7-song soundtrack, with tunes ranging from techno to swing music. Furthermore, players may customize their soundtrack with their own rockin' tracks. However, one can also disable the music entirely, in favor of lonely silence or the robustness of iTunes.

Conclusion: 28 Days Later: London Burns While I Play
Burning Monkey Solitaire 2005 takes everything that one would expect from a Solitaire game and completely chucks it out the proverbial window. The game is funny, visually appealing, aurally enjoyable and chocked full of the world's best Solitaire variations. Burning Monkey Solitaire 2005 happily rests in my Dock, providing solid gameplay and plenty of chuckles.

Now, I leave with a little trivia; Somewhere in this review is an allusion to a film in which monkeys spread an infection that wipes out most of Europe. The first person to identify the allusion, the film AND the infection will win their very own copy of Burning Monkey Solitaire 2005. (Note: We have a winner! The correct answer was: "28 Days Later: London Burns While I Play", "28 Days Later" and "Rage".)

Burning Monkey Solitaire 2005
Publisher: Freeverse
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