I’m not a fan of card games, normally. Actually, it’s been so long since I’ve touched a deck of cards that the only game I still remember how to play is war. I usually stay away from the card games in the casual games territory; lately I’m convincing myself that if I’m going to review games, I might as well play them all. “Apprehensive” would be a word you’d use in my installing and trying out 5 Realms of Cards, and “surprised” was the word to describe how much I’ve enjoyed this game.

5 Realms of cards is a solitary card game that’s laid out like Mahjong, involves cards, and plays like a match-3. It’s definitely original, as far as solitary games go. The goal is to make chains (3 or more cards) of consecutively numbered cards and accomplish the level’s goal. What makes the game special are these goals. Each level has a different goal – sometimes you’re required to get a certain number of a certain card, other times you’re asked to reveal all the cards in the stacks.

There are also obstacle cards like the snowflake, which freezes nearby cards, as well as the changer card which changes every time you make a chain. On top of that, when you are playing in a given “realm” of cards, taking aces of that suit off the board fills up a flag meter. When it fills up all the way, all of the cards of that suit are taken off the board.

Another thing that really impressed me about 5 Realms of cards are the 2 out of 5 mini-games that really stands out as special. These can be played in the main menu screen, and are not available in the game. The two games are Long Chain and Puzzle. The goal in Long Chain is to make one single chain of all the cards presented, and in puzzle, simply collect all of the cards. They’re much harder than they sound, and there are 36 of each that can be unlocked as you play the main solitary mode. These are very enjoyable and definitely a must for puzzle fans.

Graphics in 5 Realms of Cards are basic, but serviceable. The suits and numbers are clearly visible, and the cards fall and flip in a satisfying way. The music reminds me of RPG games back in the 90’s,  and they fall between medieval and elevator. It’s not likely to get on your nerves, but it is rather repetitive. The sound effects of falling and flipping cards are lovely and they blend right in – a sign of good sound.

5 Realms of Cards doesn’t save mid-game, but it should be in the collection of every Minute Gamer. There is a timeless mode right off the bat, so you don’t have to race against the clock – just leave it on and come back whenever. The puzzles are great to mull over, and there’s a whole lot of game here that would appeal to card, match-3, and puzzle fans alike.

Mystery Solitaire is a card solitaire game, or so it seems. It plays like Mahjong, and it has all the elements of a mahjong game aside from the stack of cards at the bottom of the puzzle screen. Even the power-ups such as the magnet and key/lock are current mahjong standbys.

For a set number of stages of solitaire you complete, you will get to do one object hunting scene. There are 12 in all, and in each you are only required to find 5 items. So the object hunting part, while well done (the placement and hiding is actually better in this game than say, in Abra Academy or Hide and Secret), is painfully short. It’s also wholly optional since there are unlimited hints.

As for the core gameplay itself of solitaire, it’s actually pretty good. You get to choose between 3 different symbol sets for the cards – yet another tip off that this is more mahjong than card – and the cards will be placed in a typical mahjong configuration. At one side of the screen there may or may not be a stack of cards and three slots for you to deal those cards into. After that, you just have to match pairs.

When you finish each object hunting scene, you get one map piece. After 12 map pieces you find the secret island and win the game. It’s pretty simple standard casual game fare. If you enjoy mahjong, this is a pretty good one. If you don’t and just want an object hunting game, it’s not bad either, but it just isn’t meant to be that. Because the game features symbols as well as cards, little ones can play it, as there is no time limit. This game does not save mid-level progress.