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GDC Preview: Big Fish Games pushes the evolution of established game genres

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Big Fish Games is a perennial fixture at the San Francisco Game Developer's Conference, and this year the casual publisher brought a stable of mobile games that push well-established genres a step further.
The presentation began with Fairway Solitaire Blast, a fast-paced take on Big Fish's hit PC game, Fairway Solitaire. The latter is one of the best solitaire games on the market, having created an unlikely but incredibly entertaining hybrid between traditional solitaire and golf. Fairway Solitaire Blast brings more innovation to the franchise in the form of new social elements.

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As the name suggests, at the core of the game are explosive new powerups and these come to you from your friends. Also, for the first time ever, you can compete with your friends to determine which of you are the real solitaire masters. Look for Fairway Solitaire Blast next week, Thursday, April 3rd.

After expanding upon solitaire, Big Fish next takes on the match-three genre with quirky strategy matcher Cascade. Following a cute, gem-seeking mole, players will have to forget everything they think they know about match-three in order to succeed at this one. Rather than simply rearranging icons or connecting adjacent icons with a finger swipe, players will have to match groups of icons to a row of icons located at the bottom of the screen. Icons can be matched in any direction (as long as the inclusion of the bottom-screen icon makes a group of three or more). The idea is to create score-multiplying powerups as gems are matched. If no matches are available, a big slot-machine-like “Spin” button appears, allowing players the opportunity to mix things up.

Next in the parade of genre modifications comes Mahjong Pandamonium! In development by the makers of Drawn: The Painted Tower, the game eliminates the frustrating elements of mahjong, and unleashes the fun. Tiles are placed on a single layer (as opposed to the traditional stacked formation) and players must match them strategically, to protect innocent little pandas from dangerous, fire-breathing dragons. Big Fish said this game is yet in its early stages and could change significantly before release, but what's there right now is looking like no mahjong game we've ever seen.

In the highly competitive casual/mobile world, no one can afford to rest on their laurels and with its efforts to push casual genres to places unknown, Big Fish Games obviously has no intention of doing that. So look out would-be casual kings-of-the-hill—Big Fish is nowhere near ready to give up its crown.

For more information about Big Fish Games, visit the official Big Fish Games website.

To download Fairway Solitaire Blast April 3rd, visit the iTunes app store.

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