Eric Pankoke's blog

10 for 9 in '08 - Skyforce Reloaded (the oops edition)

It turns out that I inadvertently left out the category of Scrolling Shooters when I made all of the posts for this article. Unfortunately, my favorite scrolling shooter for the PocketPC didn't actually get nominated this year, which I suppose was my fault. In lieu of that the clear pick was Skyforce Reloaded, which was still a very good game in this genre.


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Can You Dig It? - A Review Of Glyph

Astraware certainly has a knack for bringing the right puzzle games to mobile platforms - anyone heard of a little gem called Bejeweled? However, as far as their relationship with Binoteq and Sandlot Games is concerned, the quality of products hasn't been quite so uniform. Thankfully, Glyph falls happily on the positive side of the unbalanced scale. Part Jawbreaker, part "uncover the picture", and part Simon Says, Glyph is a unique combination of sub-genres that blend together to make a fun and interesting game.


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10 for 9 in '08 - Through Enemy Eyes

We've come to the end of the year, and I've come to the end of this article. The last category I judged for was Top-down (maze) Puzzle. Through Enemy Eyes was really more than that, but even had it not been, it was by far the best game in this category.


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Fly Away - A Quick Look At Butterfly

If you're not familiar with it, I highly recommend checking out the monthly article The Arcade.  It is thanks to this article that I've discovered a number of rather interesting freeware games, including the subject of this article, Butterfly.


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10 for 9 in '08 - Spb Air Islands

Well, I'm almost done with this series. This entry marks game number nine of ten, and the category is strategy. In my mind Spb Air Islands was the clear winner, primarily due to its unique mode of resource management. Without further ado, here are my favorite points about Spb Air Islands.


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10 for 9 in '08 - Boneyboy

I've tried any platform game I could get my hands on for the PocketPC platform, and up until Archibald's Adventures which was released a few days ago (you can read my review here), nothing has really stood out from the pack. However, of the ones that made it into the list of Jump & Run Scrollers for this year's awards, Boneyboy was definitely my favorite.


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Are You Smarter Than A Travel Genius?

HeroCraft has quickly become one of my favorite mobile phone developers.  I can't say that I've liked everything they've done, but I admire the fact that they've developed such a diverse range of products.  They also have a knack for putting their own spin on a classic style of gaming.  Whether you're playing the laser-and-mirrors update Robo, the stylish Ball Rush Aqua that proved there was more to be done with Breakout clones, or the unique strategy game Gone In 60 Seconds, it's clear that HeroCraft purposes in their mind to bring you a different experience with each game t


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10 for 9 in '08 - Obulis: The Second Epoch

For puzzle games, my top pick was Obulis: The Second Epoch.  To be truthful, this could almost go to either part one or two, it just happens that part two was the one nominated for the awards this year.  Some of the puzzle design was a bit better in part two, but if you haven't played either, it's definitely worth your time playing both.


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10 for 9 in '08 - Meltdown

In the category of Non Run & Jump Shooters, Meltdown reigned supreme.  Meltdown is a very addictive game that can be played with one button. While most timed games annoy me, Meltdown integrated it into the story in such a way that it compels you to complete the levels. The level design and pacing was also done in such a way that you get satisfaction out of completing a level. The graphics in Meltdown are great. All the animated foreground elements look really good, and while not spectacular, the multi-layered background of pipes continually caught my eye.


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10 for 9 in '08 - Bejeweled 2

I guess I need to speed this series up if I want it to be all about '08 :)  At any rate, for the category of Color Matching games, there really was no contest.  While there may have been some innovations to the genre since it's release, Bejeweled 2 is still the most captivating game in this group.  Clearly the general populace agrees, as it continues to appear at the top of the charts on Astraware's best sellers list.  Bellow are a couple of reasons that I put it at the top of mine.

The Hyper-Cube Attack In Action


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10 for 9 in '08 - Earth Day

Continuing the coverage of my "lost article" from the last issue of Smartphone & PocketPC magazine we have my top pick for the category of "Classic Arcade" from the 2008 awards.  In this case I picked Earth Day, which was actually the first eSoft Interactive game I ever reviewed, even though I had been a fan of theirs for quite some time.  For the simple premise behind Earth Day, it was quite an addictive thrill ride.  Here's what I thought of it...


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An Apple A Day... A Quick Look At FruitsDay

www.zielok.com recently released a new freeware game called FruitsDay.  If you haven't been to the site before, basically there are several PocketPC and Windows games available for free, and for a donation you can get the game Next Element Deluxe.  I recommend checking it out if you get the chance.


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Zuma - Frogs and Exploding Balls, Oh My!

One sign of a good game is that it has appeal several years after it has been released. Such is the case with Zuma from Astraware, a mobile version of the popular action / puzzle game from Popcap Games. Addictive game play, intense challenge and a cool atmosphere make this an oldie but goodie that should be in your collection if it’s not already there.


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10 for 9 in '08 - Anthelion 2

In the category of Action Games, I had a tie for first place.  The other game that I thought deserved the spot of #1 action game was Anthelion 2 from PDAMill.  This was actually a bit of an odd choice for me, because I don't normally care for first person flight sim / combat games.  However, this one caught my attention, so keep reading to find out why...


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3D Constructo Combat - Where's The Rest Of The Game?

One of the nice things about being involved with the Smartphone & PocketPC awards over the years is that I’ve gotten the opportunity to play some games that I might not have had the chance or desire to otherwise. One such game is 3D Constructo Combat from Concrete Software. The game takes a rather unique twist on the “tower defense” genre and had the makings of becoming a PocketPC classic.

Basically, your goal over the course of several levels is to build more structures than your opponent. This is done by snatching up building segments and placing them on designated areas within the playing field. A building consists of somewhere between one to four segments and a roof, and you can have as many structures as you can find open foundations on the board. Of course, your opponent is trying to accomplish the same thing, and your building segments come out of the same allocation as his. So how do you get the leg up on your opponent?


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Firetop Adventure - Sizzling Fire or Smouldering Ashes?

Here we are, just over two years since I shared my thoughts on Firetop Mountain, the first release from ino Games. Now I've come to talk to you about that game's spiritual successor, Firetop Adventure. The truth is, the two games don't have a whole lot in common. That's unfortunate for Firetop Adventure, because while it's more aesthetically pleasing, it lacks much of the fun and innovation that made the first game a nice little treat.

The puzzle based nature of the original has been replaced with a more traditional platforming experience. That's not to say that it's purely run and jump through the levels, however. There are still things to do like finding dynamite to blow open doors and rescuing prisoners from their cages. However, it wasn't until spending some time with this game that I truly appreciated Firetop Mountain's single screen, time based puzzle levels. This outing almost felt too "standard" for me.
 

Fighting A Big Guy


There were a few things that were nice to see in the game. While not unique, the certainly under-used "sit and squish" technique for dispensing with monsters was interesting. Sadly, in the levels I've played there was only one monster that could be killed with this technique. For anything else there's either the bottle that gives you one shot in both directions (left and right), or the globe that lets you dispatch every baddie currently on the screen. It was also nice to have an inventory of sorts, where you can store up to four items for future use on the level you're currently playing. These items will go away when you start a new level, so don't be afraid to use them.


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Mac Loves WinMo?

Topics:

I recently received an announcement from Eltima Software regarding a new product of theirs called SyncMate.  Unfortunately I don't have a Mac so I can't relate any first hand experience with this software (yet), but it sounds pretty nifty, so I thought I'd let all of you know about it in case you happened to own a Mac and a Windows Mobile device.  And since the lite version is free, you have nothing to lose for giving it a try!

"From now on, synchronizing your Mac with Pocket PC is as easy as one, two, three! Let us introduce SyncMate to you! SyncMate is a new and very simple synchronization tool by Eltima Software. It is presented in two versions, Free and Expert.


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Is It Super, Or Just Sudoku?

It seems like someone is always releasing a new version of Sudoku. The problem however, as I’ve mentioned before, is that Sudoku is Sudoku. The rules are set in stone and if you change them the game would no longer truly be Sudoku. So how does one version of Sudoku shine compared to another? The difference is in the interface, and unfortunately for Dvide Arts, their minimalist approach to an interface really detracts from what would otherwise be a decent implementation of Sudoku.


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10 for 9 in '08 - Atomic Battle Dragons

The first category on my list was Action Games, which is where I had my tie.  While two very different games, both Atomic Battle Dragons and Anthelion 2 kept me engaged like none of the other contenders in this genre.  So without further ado, here's why I chose Atomic Battle Dragons...


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10 for 9 in '08 - The Introduction

I'm back!  I'm sure you all missed me :)  I needed to take a break for a bit, but it's nice having someplace to let my opinions out on a semi-regular basis where people might actually read them.  In any case, I thought I'd start by bringing you a several-blog post containing an article I wrote for the final issue of Smartphone & PocketPC magazine that unfortunately didn't make the cut due to space constraints.


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