Cheap Shot: Arcade Solitaire: TriTowers

No one ever plans to play Solitaire. You don’t rearrange your schedule to squeeze in a session. Generally, you’re sitting at your desk, either bored or procrastinating, and you look up and somehow the program is sitting open on your screen. You don’t remember booting it up, but since it’s open, you suppose you have a few spare minutes for a game or two. It won’t take long, and who knows, you might even win.

Then you look out the window and it’s dark outside, and the clock has somehow leaped forward several hours, and your index finger hurts from dragging thousands upon thousands of cards across the screen. How did this happen?

There’s no use fighting it.

Solitaire is something mere mortals are helpless against. Arcade Solitaire: TriTowers is no exception. Early on, its clean graphics, gentle sounds, and smooth animation lull you into a state of euphoria. Then the simplicity of the gameplay– tapping on cards one higher or lower than the one in play– binds your animal brain so that you can hardly think.

It’s at this point, when you’re at your most vulnerable, that the devilishly seductive reward system comes into play. With each successive card you tap, your score climbs ever skyward. Combos are rewarded with sounds and visual flourishes. OpenFeint achievements flash across your field of vision, granting you deep psychological contentment.

Your global ranking is tracked in real time in the corner of the screen, and you can watch it soar ever higher as you play, pumping happy chemicals into your brain. The end of each round leads into the beginning of the next, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

But you wouldn’t want to– you’re hooked. Our advice? Buy it. Love it. Surrender to it.

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