Tri-Peaks Solitaire is one of the most popular time-wasting applications on Pogo.com, a site dedicated to casual Internet gaming. Not coincidentally, it's also one of the games EA Mobile is bringing to handsets. Existing Pogo members will find their accounts fully transferable to the mobile game, along with any tokens and badges they may have won online. In fact, mobile-specific badges will serve as an enticement to established Tri-Peaks fans, who, per capita, log an average of 14 hours weekly. Now, their obsession can follow them around, like a ring wraith or an IRS auditor.
Tri-Peaks is like a faster-paced version of Freecell, in which you only have one compounding pile to deal with, but lots of pyramidally arranged cards. You start the game with a single card faceup in your hand. You'll have to choose a card one degree of value above or below that starting card. If no options exist, you can draw on your limited pile. As cards are revealed, the options available to you grow and diminish, until you're finally left with one card. If you cycle completely through your hand without picking up all the cards on the table, you lose. Otherwise, you win, and your ending score will be based on the number of consecutive cards you cleared, and on how many times you had to draw on your hand.
There are two metagames taking place on the periphery of the Tri-Peaks screen. As you collect cards consecutively--without drawing--a snake slithers up a pole. He represents your combo multiplier and the number of tokens you'll receive after a victory. There's also a Lilliputian treasure hunter atop the screen, whose goal is to grab treasure chests and avoid traps. His success is contingent on your game's outcome.
It's easy to see why Tri-Peaks Solitaire is a hit among casual gamers. Games are quick and intense, and extended play is hardly a requirement. We look forward to giving this game our full attention when it hits carriers this summer.