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SeaHaven Towers for OS/2 v2.30- by Jeffrey Smick
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We've all downloaded quite a bit of software over the years, and had varying experiences with installing the software, getting to know the program, and of course finding the glitches. The program I'm about to introduce to you, SeaHaven Towers for OS/2 v2.30, has been a real joy on all those fronts.

Installation

To begin with, downloading the zip file was quick; it took all of 90 seconds. The readme instructions for installation are informative and clear too. Installing SeaHaven Towers into your directory of choice is simple. Interestingly, even during installation you come into contact with one of the many nice touches that Mr. Kulp thoughtfully provides. If you tell it to, SeaHaven Towers will take advantage of Warp's ability to have packed resources, thus creating a 300k smaller EXE file than would otherwise be possible (under OS/2 v2.X or earlier). Backward compatibility plus forward enhancements. Neat.

Removal

SeaHaven Towers does not mess with your config.sys, or your INI files. Uninstallation is as simple as deleting the directory where the files are installed, and deleting the program object that is created on installation.

The Equipment

This game was tested on a Cyrix p-150+, 32 Meg RAM, with a Matrox Millennium. Screen shot courtesy of PMView, text courtesy of DeScribe.

The Game

I've played standard solitaire games before, but I had no clue what SeaHaven Towers was all about (GIF, 19.8k). So, I got to know the help facility right away. It's excellent -- clear and precise, with virtually none of those irritating typos you often come across. Soon I learned what the point of the game is, and how to play it.

Warning: this game can be VERY DIFFICULT! (I had to laugh because the HELP file casually mentions that, given certain settings, the game can be impossible!) I floundered at the default "Normal" difficulty level. Using the on-line help though, I learned how simple it is to change this setting to "Easy".

But even more interesting is that I learned how the user can choose to set each of the four play parameters manually. This allows the player lots of creative flexibility in how they set up the game. You could adjust one parameter to a setting that would be considered "Hard" while setting another parameter to "Easy". For the player, this blending may be preferable to the preassigned values set by the computer as Easy, Normal, and Hard. I'm looking forward myself to playing with the parameters and maybe I'll graduate to the Normal level!

The above is just one example of the thoughtful features the author has provided. Here are some more:

"New Game" and "Repeat Game" easy-access buttons right on the game window.

Two kinds of "Undo/Redo", also easily accessed using buttons in the lower corners of the game window. One moves you backwards/forwards incrementally each time you click it. The other pops up a slider for bigger leaps backwards/forwards. (Believe me, you might find this useful!)

Scaling of cards. This is to accommodate all video resolutions. If your display doesn't look right try this feature to fix the problem. You may run into display problems with a 640 x 480 resolution and the "Easy" setting. With the resolution so low, and the game trying to fit so many cards onto the screen, it doesn't look so pretty. Solution: improve your skills a bit so that you don't have to play at the "Easy" level!

Multi user. A way to keep your scores and percentages separate and safe from anyone else's when they play the game on your PC.

Quick cards. SeaHaven Towers can automatically draw cards up to the ace stacks, which is a big time-saver, as well as potentially saving you from yourself in case you happen to not notice a move.

The rules can be changed to those of Freecell, a game shipped by Microsoft with the Win32s libraries. (Using these rules will make the game significantly easier... Surprised?)

I also liked that there are no included WAV files. After you've heard them once, they just get boring and take up space, don't you think? The PC speaker can be disabled if preferred.

On the negative side, while the game window does accept drag-N-drop colors (sorry if you hate my color choice in the screen shot), there is no way to customize the images on the cards or towers.

When I first played a game and thought it very difficult, I also worried that I may get to a place where further play may be impossible without knowing it, and then waste a lot of time trying to find the next move when there wasn't one. Not to worry, there is a message that will pop up telling you that there are no more possible moves. You should be aware though, that as long as there are possible moves, even if they won't get you anywhere, you will not get the pop-up message. In that case it's up to you to throw in the towel.

Performance

Physically, the game has no problems. It takes about 10 seconds to load itself and plays smoothly after that. The game has never crashed or hung on me. There are no hiccups, bugs, or unpolished edges. In this area I think that no news is good news, so I'm just going to say that SeaHaven Towers runs fine.

Improvements?

There is no right mouse button action, but it's not needed. (Note: I have seen the new beta version which incorporates the ability to LMB a card, making its next higher card, wherever it is located, become momentarily highlighted so you can find it easily. Similarly, the RMB will momentarily highlight its next lower card. I think this is a very cool feature.) Accessing HELP from the options notebook isn't obvious, but that old standby F1 did the trick, so no problem there.

Recommendations

All in all, I had lots of fun with the game. I had to drag myself from it to write this review! So, if you're into addictive card games, this is a definite choice for you.

* * *

SeaHaven Towers for OS/2 v2.30

by J. Daniel Kulp
download from the OS/2 Supersite (ZIP, 226k)
Registration: US$15

Jeffrey Smick, member TBOUG, is a professional violinist with The Florida Orchestra in Tampa, FL. When he's not fiddling, he's busy learning C++, playing with his cat, and plotting the next piece of OS/2 software he'd love to write.


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