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Pest Infestation (PDAmill Maggot Attack)

posted in Reviews on September 2nd, 2007

More than 130 years ago, a revolution occurred: The first Pinball machine was released to the public. It would take another half century before these machines would turn into a commercial success, but once they hit - they hit hard.

These days, there are only a handful pinball table manufacturers left, some reports even say that there really is just one company still in the business of providing the populace with this kind of entertainment.

Anno 2007, people do not seem to have lost interest in those games, but finding good ones gets harder and harder - sure, you could use the Pinball Locator to find one and waste your money on that, or … you could read this review about Maggot Attack, a pinball simulation from PDAmill.

Good ol’ Times

When you first start Maggot Attack, you will most probably feel like you are going to play a Starship Troopers branded pinball game: the splash screen shows a huge, definitely dead, maggot and a soldier with a high powered rifle.

The main menu itself looks like one of those old dot matrix displays and gives you access to the various options of the game, such as a high score listing, a basic explanation on how to play the game and a button mapping feature.

The mapping feature actually deserves a short mentioning: I tried the game both on my HTC Blueangel (slide-out keyboard) and on my O2 XDA Flame. While I could map just about any key on the Blueangel’s keyboard / button array, I find that on the Flame, I can only map the D-pad and the camera / connection manager buttons.

Technically speaking, you can still use a stylus to activate the flippers and that way, it is actually a tad faster, but I still would not mind being able to use all the buttons.

Multi-Ball

Very much like Bowling for Burgers, the story in this game serves purely as a theme and even though there are a couple of missions that are related to the name, the main objective is to have a lot of fun.

Maggot Attack features one mode and a number of special areas that let you rack up your score.

Maggot Attack

 

For example, the eggs at the top center of the playfield are the entry to a high-speed egg destroying mission, which can get you anywhere from 50k to 250k points. Whereas the area that is located top left of the field will, most certainly, give you bonuses in the millions - the only thing is that actually getting there requires an amount of skill I do not have (yet).

The better you are, the more sophisticated your weapon (located dead center) will get and the more sophisticated it gets, the more special missions you get. You can see my attempt at upgrading if you compare the previous screenshot to this one:

Maggot Attack

 

Replay

Maggot Attack is retro-gaming at its best. With no learning curve at all and a number of nice little extras, this game is a real no-brainer.

Not only because you can get it at a very affordable $15, but also because Maggot Attack requires little to no mental effort to fully enjoy it and makes for a great filler for those short down-times when you have to wait somewhere.

I hope that, in the future, PDAmill will release more pinball games and my guess is that, if they do, these games will feature space themes (Anthelion, Flux) as well as a medieval setting as can be seen in the Arvale Franchise.

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Inspiration for Game Developers

posted in Tech Talk on August 21st, 2007

It would seem that people like my reviews. It may sound arrogant, but I can back that up with feedback I get from both users and developers / manufacturers.

Recently, one developer was so happy about one of my reviews that they decided to do a huge sale on all of their Gamebox products. They even used part of my review as the title for the whole “Train your Brain” sale.

Gamebox Sale!

 

The above sale lasted until August 8th, 2007 and customers could save as much as 83% on any title. Pretty nice move on PDAmill’s part, even if it is just another way of attracting new customers during the slow(er) summer months.

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Mind Games (PDAmill Gamebox Sudoku)

posted in Reviews on July 26th, 2007

Unless you have spent the last two years living under a rock, you have probably heard about a puzzle game called Sudoku. These innocent looking puzzles have invaded newspapers and magazines, people have drawn up their own versions and there have even been whole sets of books dedicated to Sudoku. So, one might wonder, what is there left to discuss? That’s right, a Pocket PC Version!

A couple of weeks ago, PDAmill released their own Sudoku clone as part of their ever growing Gamebox Collection and if you are looking to train your brain a little during the summer (or any other season), this game might be for you.

Numb3rs

Sudoku is a game about relationship and, at first, seemingly endless possibilities. The truth, however, is that Sudoku is quite simple, there are only two rules (as far as I know) and once you understand these two rules, solving the game is not that hard anymore. PDAmill’s Sudoku makes use of the numbered version of Sudoku, which most people find easier to solve than, for example, shape- or color-based Sudokus.

Think tank

The interface for Gamebox Sudoku is quite spartan: you can either start a new game, continue or restart an old one, read up on the rules or quit the game. The minimalistic approach in this case however is very well chosen. The user does not need any more items than those that are presented in the menu.

Starting a new game is fairly straight forward: your first choice is the size of your puzzle, after that, you select the difficulty of your game and you can start solving your puzzle.

Once you are in the game, you get a richer interface, with a myriad of options. Two thirds of your screen are used by the Sudoku puzzle itself while one third is used for the sidebar. The set of tools that are available are streamlined to make your game experience as pleasant as possible.

Gamebox: Sudoku

 

The thing that I like most about the sidebar is the erase tool, with it, you can hide those numbers that can not be placed on a certain field, based on the rules of the game and your own calculations. While this feature might not be needed by professional players, I found it very useful in solving the bigger and more difficult puzzles.

Gamebox: Sudoku

 

As soon as you have hidden all the impossible numbers for a given spot, you can switch the erase tool to the pencil tool and start filling in your puzzle.

In case you are stuck, the game offers you both a undo / redo function as well as a hint tool that will cancel out any numbers that are wrong as defined by the rules of the game. Especially with the biggest puzzle form, this can be very useful and certainly more fun than simply restarting a session.

A good combo

In the past two years, I did a fairly good job in avoiding Sudoku. I played it once but could not find a solution back then and gave up, because the game did not appeal to me. When I came across this title, I had the weird idea of trying it again, because sometimes, I enjoy Pocket PC versions of a game a lot more than their real life counterparts. Long story short, I ended up loving the game. I think I have solved about 30 to 40 Sudokus by now and thanks to this game, I will probably keep doing so.

This game does it the right way: there is the soothing background music, the relaxing color scheme and additions to a brilliant game that make it a lot more fun, especially for those that never played the game or do not like this kind of games.

For $14.95, you get hours and hours of (single player) fun and unlimited Sudokus to boot. No need to carry around a huge book full of puzzles you can only use once. While I do not think that this game is overpriced, I would still suggest any buyers to sign up for My.PDAmill; that way, you get at least 10% off of the price and (depending on the amount of games you bought from PDAmill) that percentage can grow up to 50%.

As with all PDAmill games, a trial version is available, so I suggest you check out the game for yourself.

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Bowling for Budapest (PDAmill Bowling for Burgers)

posted in Reviews on July 18th, 2007

While EA is gracing the world with (yet another) The Sims spin off, called “The Sims Bowling“, PDAmill just released a bowling simulation that actually sounds like fun.

Fast Food meets Physical Education

Most Pocket PC gamers know PDAmill from the Arvale franchise, a collection of amazingly funny RPGs. I have enjoyed PDAMill games in the past and naturally, I wanted to see if this title would manage to live up to my expectations too.

I have to admit up front that I am not much of a bowler. I know that the ball has to knock over the pins and that you are not supposed to throw the ball in a way that would make it jump lanes or even damage the lane, but apart from that, I never really got into the game.

Meet the competition

The Bowling for Burgers Tournament has been going for some time now and you’re in the final stage of the tournament. Three players left. The cool Slick Bacher, the lovely Maggie Monroe and the no-nonsense Mr. Cube. All three of them have different attributes; while one might have an incredible amount of luck (most probably, due to her looks), the others enjoy a high level of strength or accuracy.

Don’t mind your step

With normal bowling, you would get a foul if you were to step over the line, it would void any points you received for your delivery and you would be one step closer to losing. With Bowling for Burgers, you do not have to concern yourself with all these complicated things, you just have to play.

Rolling the ball is simple: pick a good starting position (hint: the center of the lane is a good start) and then swipe your stylus in the direction you want the ball to go. The stronger your swipe, the faster the ball will go.

You can further influence the way the ball interacts with the pins by adjusting the weight or by hitting (or avoiding) one of the extras:

Since this competition is heavily sponsored by burger joints, you will occasionally find yourself in a situation where a strange object appears on your lane. It might be good, it might be bad, the only way to find out what kind of effect it has is to roll your ball over it.

Bowling for Burgers: one of the extras

 

The goal is simple: knock down as many pins as possible. If you manage to knock down all ten on your first roll, you hit a strike, if you manage to “clean up” with your second roll, its called a spare. The more pins you knock down, the higher your score will be after the last frame and who knows, you might even manage to hit a turkey.

Bowling for Burgers: Delivery

 

Blow or blowout?

If you are looking for a dead serious bowling simulation, Bowling for Burgers is not for you. This game is as funny as bowling can get without real people. There’s the entertaining 50’s music, beautifully drawn graphics and, in general a great user experience, because gamers do not need to know anything about the game.

The game will set you back about $20 and will keep you entertained for many hours. Bowling for Burgers is one of those titles that you can keep playing no matter what. It does not start to annoy you after a few rounds and has a high replayability factor.

A trial version is available at PDAmill’s site, so I suggest you check out the game for yourself.


A big thank you goes out to Nate Nelson for providing me with all those fancy bowling terms and explaining the basic rules of the game to me.

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