One of the best things about being a Dad is when your child starts to take an interest in sports and games. Of course, to begin with, they’re hopeless but we praise and encourage them through their development and try to suppress our ‘Competitive Dad’ side. I always found this to be quite a dilemma. If you let them win you’re not teaching them to deal with failure. If you don’t let them win they can soon become disheartened and give up. I tried to apply a path between these two polar opposites. Although I tried to be flexible, it did feel like I was playing with fire at times. As she got a bit older and able to manage the knocks, I took a firmer approach and made her earn the victory more.
My daughter’s two main passions were playing football and gaming. So naturally, we played FIFA, a lot.
Of course, to begin with, I dominated but all too soon she became increasingly challenging to play against. Before long I struggled to compete. I often pressed the wrong buttons but previously it didn’t matter. Now I was being punished and my slow reflexes were letting me down too. It started to get embarrassing, I was now hopeless! The list of other games I was better at than her, became less and less. From that long list, only Pool and Space Hockey remained good to me.
Several years on, she still plays FIFA, as well as many other games I wouldn’t have a clue how to play. However, she’s moved online to find some proper competition. I have long been of little use to her, regards being a serious gaming challenger.
So with my tail between my legs, I’ve gone back to rediscover some of the games I knew and loved, growing up. Games that don’t necessarily require lightning reflexes or the ability to press multiple buttons every second. I’m talking retro and puzzle games. Games that require a logical brain rather than having fast fingers. I’m always on the lookout for something a bit different that I haven’t played before. Recently I struck gold!
I’ve always enjoyed playing Solitaire but I’ve found some great variations of the original game. Firstly, I discovered Golf Solitaire. Don’t worry if you don’t like golf, it’s golf in name only. No bunkers or water hazards to negotiate here!
The rules are relatively simple and uses one pack of cards. Seven rows of five cards are randomly dealt, face up. The remaining cards are placed in a line, face down, apart from the last card on the right, which is face up. To win the game you need to clear all the upturned cards before you use up all the face-down cards. In the example above, you have the 3 of Clubs. You would look for a consecutive card from the rows above (ie 2 or 4) and then select. In this case, there is no 2 or 4 card available so you would need to turn over the next card and continue. If you do win you will score 350 points plus 100 points per face-down cards remaining plus a time bonus. In the easy version Aces are high and low, so can be followed by a King or 2. In the hard version, the Aces are low. Don’t be fooled by the term ‘easy version’, it’s still quite difficult.
I have to admit I have found this game quite addictive and it has become a bit of a guilty pleasure for me!
The next game I really like is called Pyramid Solitaire. Again, it uses a single pack of cards. In this game, 28 cards are dealt in a pyramid shape, as shown below. The remaining cards are stacked, face up. The objective is to remove the 28 cards by removing them in pairs. This is done by combining the numbers on the cards to equal 13 (eg 9 of Diamonds + 4 of Clubs). Ace = 1, Jack = 11, Queen = 12 and King = 13. As the King is worth 13 it can be removed individually.
In the example above, you could pair and remove the 8 and 5 and also the Ace and Queen, on the bottom row. If you can’t make a pair that adds up to 13, you deal the next card from the pack and try and pair it with one above. The pack can be dealt no more than three times. Only fully uncovered cards in the pyramid can be used to pair with another card. Points are scored for each pair plus extra points for clearing a row. Bonus time points are also added if you successfully complete the game. The faster you complete the more points you will gain. You’ll soon get the hang of it!
Again, this game is harder than it looks but once you start playing, you won’t want to stop. For me, it has the right balance of being both relaxing and challenging.
I will continue to search for other retro games of this genre. They have a purity and authenticity that I love.
Yes, I’m now very content to play games that test my brain more than my fingers!