June Expert Round-Up: The 3 Best Windows Mobile Games!!
Let the games begin! Or at least the monthly blog topic for June (and our giveaway of Astraware's Classic Collection)...This month: our picks for the 3 best WM games...
My 3 top mobile games are probably considered pretty lame by hard-core gamers out there. I’m not big on first-person shooters, and fight games, for instance. I like a game that requires a certain level of planning and strategy to advance, and keeps you engaged over a long period of time. It’s probably because my hand-eye coordination is not as snappy as it was when I was a kid. Believe me when I say I dumped a small fortune of snow-shoveling and allowance money into the arcade machines of my day. I now prefer more sedate strategy/war-games, or racing games that require you to use your winnings wisely in order to advance. In this latter genre, I have not found a better title than K-RALLY!
K-RALLY is a scrolling 3-D game with an overhead view of the track, which remains centered on your car as you race. The game has quite a few exceptional layouts that you advance through, and also the ability to generate your own custom tracks. Scrolling games aren’t quite as cool (at first blush) as the immersive 3-D first-person games can be, but K-RALLY is an exception. This game is so well rendered, with some of the smoothest, most attractive graphics and effects I have yet to witness in almost any game on a mobile platform. The details (i.e. wind blowing through treetops), perspectives, and car physics as you race through the scenery is near perfect, even from the top-looking-down view.
I haven’t found any game cheats in K-RALLY, per se, but a good strategy in career mode is to build up your car’s engine, and tires by racing in the lower ranks for a long time before attempting the higher, more expensive tracks. Oh, and always double your bets (but, in a careful gambling way...ahem)! You can rack up experience points by simply participating in quick races, which cost you nothing while giving you a chance to try out higher-level cars and tracks. At certain levels of experience, the game will give you access to better cars and even hidden profiles. K-RALLY includes the use of weapons (missiles and mines). Both can majorly increase your chances of winning against faster opponents, if used cleverly. Your best chance at getting the most bang for your buck (haha) is to let the opponent get close before launching. The danger here is that if the opponent is too close, he may blast you before you blast him. On criss-cross tracks (like a figure-8), if I am lagging behind enough, I will lay mines at the crossroads to bring down the leaders. It has actually worked to totally destroy a really fast opponent.
K-RALLYs’ career mode is the most engaging over the long term, and championship mode is fun to get the experience of strategically upgrading your car components. Quick Race is probably the best way to get used to the different cars and tracks. Ghost Mode is pretty useless.
Tip: “MRROOT” is an interesting profile to try out, if you like "the running man" movie ;)
The next game I love is Machines at War. I just recently came across it, and haven’t been playing it long enough to have any exceptional tips yet, but have played many like it in different forms. The object is to build up an army of miniature mobile tanks, choppers, and assault vehicles to protect your mining operations (which is how you earn credits to build more machines). These types of games present a top down view of your tiny, scurrying forces, buildings, factories, defensive structures and such. You can move around the bird’s-eye view of the map, tap on specific units or even command your whole army to march into the teeth of the enemy’s compound. At first, you start with a few vehicles and a small home base, biding your time and fighting off skirmishes while you build up your numbers with more sophisticated firepower. When you have amassed enough (you can never have enough), you move against the enemy, who is also building up a force to invade and destroy you.
These games are awesome, in my opinion, because they actually give you the feel of having to manage a real battlefield operation. You don’t have any time to sit back and enjoy a safe defensive position, because while you are building your forces, you can count on an attack or 3 from your neighbor, which pack more and more punch over time. If you send your assault forces off to war too soon, in too little strength, they will be defeated in detail, and your own base will be left vulnerable. Each level begins and ends with small, opposing, but growing home bases. Lose yours and you’re defeated.
The first of these games I ever played on a WM device was Strategic Assault, by Xen Games, which was a little crude in the graphics department, but had some very fun aspects, even including land, sea and air operations. Shortly after SA, came another game, called Warfare Incorporated by Handmark, with better graphics, and even a storyline (though storylines are a bit silly for this genre). All of the assault games share a singular flaw that can usually be ferreted out: Your computerized enemy attacks in patterns that can be easily discerned and defended against, or even cheated. The SA game could even be caught into a loop whereby attackers would simply pile up behind each other to shoot at a single target. If you positioned say a single truck or tank behind a barrier perfectly adjacent to the enemy’s line of movement, the opposing forces would stall into a long line behind the first attacker, waiting for their turn to shoot at it, instead of surging around the block. You would then be safe to build up your forces unmolested at home base, while the enemy wasted more and more resources trying to get at your decoy. You could beat many levels easily using this method, but it did not always work. It required an impenetrable barrier that you could use to hang up the enemy advance. WI was not as prone to this kind of cheat certainly, having a much more randomized and independent enemy attack pattern, but still every video game has some fatal flaw at it’s core whereby if the player plays long enough (or enough repetitions at a certain level) can simply puzzle out the logic controlling the bad guys, and exploit or thwart the game in some way. Maybe not a sporting way to win, but sometimes a quick way to the next level.
“Machines” is probably the most impressive of these game types, as it provides a large arsenal of machine types, factories, labs, and more sophisticated gameplay aspects. For instance, most of these games won’t allow you to view the terrain beyond your headquarters initially until you’ve sent your vehicles out to explore, usually blundering into enemy guns. After you’ve located the enemy position, however, the mystery is over, and you can simply scroll the map over the enemy compound to see what’s being thrown at you next. With “Machines”, even after you’ve scouted out the enemy locations, you still can’t see the attacking forces coming at you on the map unless you have a radar array built to reveal them, and even then only when they come within a certain range. The other games also were pretty much games of attrition. You set up your factory, and start churning out tanks and vehicles, throw them at the enemy, and as they were damaged or destroyed, you simply churn out more, so on and so on. In Machines, you can create healer vehicles that repair damage to other machines and buildings, and you can move them around with your forces to lower the attrition rates your forces will suffer when in battle.
My last favorite game is an aged title now surely (you can even get it free for your home PC if you don’t mind the small screen), but one that still sports impressive graphics and gameplay. It’s a game by PDAMill called Flux Challenge--a 3-D pod-racing clone (first-person perspective), wherby you race a pod-like floating vehicle through tunnels. The contest aspects are much like K-RALLY, in that you must pay to enter in a race championship of sorts, and use your winnings wisely to move up to more expensive tracks, eventually to face the final Grand Flux track. A twisting, looping hell of turns, barriers and obstacles that seems to go on forever. If you take on a track that’s too hard (and too expensive) too quickly, you will lose your money, and be back down at the bottom again. I’ve raced through all the levels and won the Flux Challenge a couple of times, but after that, the game continues to get progressively harder to beat, making it a perennial favorite. I have found no cheats or shortcuts with Flux other than just being a progressively better, and better racer. Course, there probably are some out there.
Tip: With all games, having a PDA or device with a decently designed D-pad helps immensely. Actually, the older iPAQs (3900 series) had some of the best designed pads of any device I’ve used. They also have the umph to run all these games, and if you want to give them a little kick, you can use an overclock utility. If you simply want to play games with your device, anything with 64MB of usable memory and a 400MHZ or higher processor should handle the load just fine. Most of these games will also run from an SD card so that you can save device memory.
So, there are my favorite mobile game picks of all time: Flux Challenge, Machines At War, and K-RALLY. I know there is nothing exactly mind-blowing in these titles, but then like I said, I’m not really a hard-core gamer. In fact, you will find nary a game review on my blog, because it’s not how I typically use my device. Once in a while though, I like a good mobile game like the next person. What are some of your favorites? I'd like to hear em, as I'm always looking for a new title. Don't forget to comment on the blog posts you see posted here on the monthly topic, as you might win a new favorite game in the process...