Who doesn’t want to get paid for playing video games? This series follows mobile applications, some of which are borderline games at best, that claim to reward users with cold hard cash (or gift cards). In my pursuit of extra cash to blow on games, or Steam gift cards to add to my collection, I have tried a number of these applications. I hope my experiences can help others steer clear of the more dubious of these applications.
This time we’ll be taking a look at the mobile solitaire game with the unnecessarily long full title Solitaire Showtime: Tri Peaks Solitaire Free & Fun, hereafter simply referred to as Solitaire Showtime, released by Jam City in 2019. While this game does not pay you directly itself, you can be paid for playing it through the service Mistplay, and potentially other similar services. As the name indicates, this is a casual card game where you play a variation of the classic solitaire.
The goal in this particular version of solitaire, is to clear all of the cards off of a board. You can remove any card from the board that is one number higher, or lower, than your currently revealed card, which is shown at the bottom center of the screen. Whenever a card is removed, it replaces your revealed card. Using the above screen shot as an example, you could take off the 9 of diamonds followed by the 8 of hearts, before being out of moves.
The face down cards on the board are revealed as the cards on top of them are removed. In our previous example, if you revealed a 7 under the 8 or 9, then you could keep removing more cards. If there are no further cards to remove, you can draw a new card from your pile to replace the revealed card. The stack of cards at the bottom left represents how many more draws you can make on a particular level.
If you run out of cards in your pile, you can pay an ever increasing amount of gold, the in-game currency, to keep adding 5 more cards to your draw pile. In addition, at any time you can pay to add a wild card as your currently revealed card, which lets you remove any card from the board to put on top of it. Finally, if you make a mistake, you can pay gold to undo your last move.
To even play a level in the game costs gold. If you join a guild, you can receive a free play every few hours, if three other members of the guild click on your request. Completing a level does pay you back gold, as well as gives you 1-3 stars based on your performance, i.e., how many cards were left in your pile when you beat the stage and how many cards you removed in a row without drawing.
When you collect a total of 30 stars, you can turn them in to open a chest containing gold and items. Items in this game are free wild cards, free plays on a level, free undo the last move, and free add 5 to your pile. There is also a series of side quests, which can reward you with in-game trading cards that are part of a monthly event. If you collect a set of cards, there is some sort of reward – likely more gold or items.
The developers do try to throw in some variations to attempt to keep things fresh. You start to encounter cards that can only be removed if the color matches, cards that are frozen to the board until you uncover a special hammer card, and other things along these lines. However, this about covers the basics of playing this game.
Solitaire Showtime, being a free to play game, is monetized by a combination of in-app purchases and video ads. After you get past the tenth level, every following level plays an ad after it has been completed. You can skip them, but it is still mildly annoying. It also prompts you to review the application after every level, which is almost more annoying in my opinion.
There is a large element of luck in playing this game, in that the cards you draw may not be useful in clearing the board quickly. You can pay your way through each level by drawing extra cards and using wild cards, which is more or less what the developers want you to do. The game seems to want to run you out of gold so you need to wait to collect more, watch videos for gold, or buy gold with cash – always a terrible idea.
The art style seems to be done to appeal to a younger audience, or at least give the application a family friendly feel. The artwork itself is done well, as one might expect from a professional development studio. The sound effects are fairly typical for a mobile app, though I personally recommend just leaving the sound off.
For some reason, I get no background music in the game. There are clearly options to turn it off and on, but I just got silence when I turned my phone’s audio on for this review. I’m not really going to knock it for this too hard, since I typically tend to play with application sounds muted.
There do seem to be enough active players for the free play feature to work in guilds. I can’t say that I have delved too deeply into the community aspects of the game, but it seems to have some activity still. Granted, they could well be bots for all I know.
Overall, Solitaire Showtime is a decent casual time waster, saddled with the unfortunate baggage common to many free to play mobile games. I would give it a “C+”, or 6/10 stars. If you use the Mistplay service, then it’s a fine choice to earn some points on that platform, but may not be worth your time unless you are a fan of casual, family friendly games.
Solitaire Showtime is available on the Google Play Store here, with a 4.8/5 stars rating at the time of this writing, and on the Apple Store here, also with a 4.8/5 stars rating. As a reminder, if you are going to play through a service to earn rewards, then you will likely need to download it via that app.
One bonus piece of advice for Mistplay users who play this game primarily for rewards: If you run out of gold, just uninstall and reinstall. You are rewarded based upon activity in the game, not overall progress. It’s more interesting to just replay the earlier levels and accumulate time in the game than to deal with waiting for your hourly free gold to refill.