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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

ASTRAWARES PIXELUS REVIEW


Astraware Pixelus

Overview
There are a lot of puzzle games being released for the palm os and pocket pc so it takes a really good puzzle game to make it a hit. ASTRAWARES PIXELUS is set on the mythical island of Pixelus and the aim of the game is to help Claudius (your character) recreate the mosaics of the gods that live on the island by filling in the missing tiles. Each temple has a larger amount of mosaics then the last and they get more challenging the further you progress into the game. PIXELUS has a lot of great features like native vga support, an easy to understand tutorial mode, and a progressive level of difficulty.

Graphics
I played PIXELUS on a vga device and a non vga device and on both accounts the graphics where bright and cheerful. The company has put a lot of effort in to the look of the game as you can see by the detail they have put in to the main island where there are lots of moving animations like the lightning striking against Jupiter’s temple and the gas escaping from the volcano. When you enter a section of the island you are met with a moving image of the God in that section and a scroll down list of all the puzzles in that particular section.

Sound
The sounds in PIXELUS match the graphics perfectly they are all bright and cheerful tunes and there is a wide variety of tunes in the game for every section of the island you visit. When you put a tile into place you get a dull thud which isn’t particularly exiting and I think it is something they need to work on in later versions.

Gameplay
The gameplay in PIXELUS is very innovative and original it is hard to explain exactly how it works but the tutorial is very well done and you will have learned to play it in less than five minutes. There are two hundred unique puzzles in the game I certainly have not found any that are at all similar to the others in shape. The game is played by adding floor tiles to the spots where tiles are missing to build the mosaics you do this by sliding tiles in to place but you must make sure it is being supported by another tile because otherwise you can not place the tile there . The way to get around this is to place temporary tiles which are red in a position so that they will support the regular tiles, then the temporary tile has to be removed because you only have a certain amount of tiles you can use so you need to think strategically and move a lot of the tiles around. The other problem is that you need a clear path to be able to remove the temporary tile and this also is cause for a great deal of manoeuvring. There are a lot of temples in the game all building up to the final temple which is Jupiter’s as you move through the game the levels become more difficult and it can take a lot of time to figure out even the first move.

If you get stuck there is always the hint function which shows a picture of an orb and the option to either show you one move or all the moves this function can be very helpful and is a nice addition to the game. All the temples have original puzzles which coincide with the Gods theme like for Cupid the puzzles are in the shape of hearts and for Flora the puzzles are in the shape of flowers. For replay value they have added in a medal system where you can get a gold medal or a silver medal depending on the amount of moves you make.

Pros
-Lots of puzzles
-Nice soundtrack
-Innovative gameplay
-Native vga support
-A easy to understand tutorial

Cons
-Sometimes too hard
-The noise when you slot a tile into place is a dull thud

Conclusion
It is hard to find fault with the game there is a wide variety of puzzles all of which are innovative and original. It has excellent graphics especially on a vga screen where there is lots of attention to detail. The sound is bright and jolly. So I give the game
8.5/10


Device: axim x50v
Gapi tweak : active
No today plugins
Processor speed : max (624)

The game can be bought from here

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Mastersoft sudoku review




Overview
Jump on board with the New World Craze Puzzle Sensation !
Not since Tetris© and the Rubik Cube© have there been anything like it. Simply enter the digits 1 to 9 in the grid without repeating in rows, columns or boxes. Easy.NB You can try the latest Beta by logging into support.
How hard can it be ?
Features
Over One Million Built In Graded Unique SuDoku Puzzles !.
Many Unique Mastersoft Features including Picture Sudoku and Grid Transform.
SuDoku Solver - Solve any SuDoku puzzle in less than 3 seconds !
Create, Solve and Analyze SuDokus.
Work your way up from Beginner to SuDoku Master !
Enter a SuDoku from a newspaper then either solve or play (using inbuilt hints if required). Mastersoft SuDoku tells you where you're going wrong even if it isn't an inbuilt SuDoku !
A Quality Title Endorsed by the HP iPAQ Choice Promotion.
Voted The Best SuDoku game available for Pocket PC.
Another Original Mastersoft Title.
Cool scoring system. Can you become a SuDoku Master ? Using hints will of course reduce your score and you'll need a certain number of points to reach the higher levels and unlock Picture SuDoku !
Other features
Can be installed to a memory card.
Unique number entry system.
Enter your working out.
Choose from a full pallette to color code your entries.
Various types of hint.
"SuDoku Master" levels that are more difficult than the hardest SuDokus found in newspapers.
Unique gameplay with increasing difficulty.
Designed with the help of over 200 SuDoku Players. You think it we'll make it !
Built in timer.
Lots of options such as turning sound off, hiding timer and score etc to aid concentration.

Gameplay
I am sure everyone has heard of a Sudoku it is a craze sweeping over the entire world and is quickly becoming one of the nations favourite pastimes this is why we have been receiving a large number of Sudoku games and aids on the pocket pc and palm os MASTERSOFT MOBILE SOLUTIONS has made a Sudoku game which promises to be different and with the large amount of features it certainly does look like an excellent way to play a quick Sudoku puzzle on the go. If you do not no how to play a Sudoku then here is an excellent guide to how you do it http://www.sudoku.org.uk/PDF/Solving_Sudoku.pdf .

The game itself has a lot of different difficulty levels (shown in image below)

There are over a million Sudokus built in and the different Difficulty settings make it good for beginners (like myself) and experts (the toughest settings ones can be really hard) alike. Once you have chosen your difficulty settings it will usually take about 20 second for you Sudoku to be assembled (not to bad considering the amount of Sudokus it has built in). You will get shown a puzzle like this
At the bottom of the page you will get a timer (a very helpful function so you can try and beat your times at each difficulty level) there is also an option to pause the stopclock if you say need to take a break. You will also see at the bottom of the page a ying and yang symbol which when pressed displays your score.

The game runs very smoothly with no lags apart from when you try and create a new Sodoku (but this is understandable and will inprove with new versions). I have never found two Sudokus that are the same or similar and i have been playing the beta versions of the game for quite some time. There is a very nice range of difficulties for every level of play. And it is very easy to inpuit data. It has a lot of handy features and one stood out in particular the ability to export your sudoku directly as a text file as shown in the diagrams below

I give the gameplay 9.5/10


The look of the game and the sounds in the game
When you first open Sudoku master you get a pleasant screen of what looks like a Japanese temple and then you hear a pleasant jingle (this is rather like Nintendo’s start-up themes for their handheld and suit’s the game very well). Throughout the game the music is not that exciting all you get is a beep when you input a number (hopefully they will fix this in later versions and add a nice background theme) When the game is opened you will get this screen


Right from the start you see that they have chosen shades of blue as the colour scheme (blue is a colour of relaxation) this means that if you decide to try your hand at the sudoku master setting and you get stuck you will remain peaceful and will not get angry with your device and throw it at the ground (I certainly like the colour scheme and although as of yet it does not have vga support it still looks very nice on my axim x50v and very nice on the qvga screen of the axim x5 i tested the game on) . there are also a lot of other styles for you to choose from to suit your personality (they have obviously put a lot of care in to making this game look and feel good)

I give the sound and looks of the game 8.5/10

Control and input
Whenever you click on any of the square a keyboard pops up (shown in diagram below)


This keyboard is what makes this Sudoku game ahead of the competition it is very responsive and easy to use (I also think it has a very innovative design because it allows very fast input allowing you to complete your Sudokus faster than ever) The keys are just the right size I have never missed them. A lot of work has gone in to this keyboard (as one of the beta testers I know) and it really does show.
I give the control and input method 9.7/10

The Sudoku solver feature
One of the great things about this game is that you have the ability to create your own Sudoku or solve one you have seen in a newspaper or a book so i decided to put the Sudoku game through its paces and test the solving function. I bought a copy of the times (a British paper) it has three difficulty levels for Sudokus I picked the one with the rating difficult. You enter the numbers and press options solve Sudoku. It solved the difficulty rated Sudoku that I would never have been able to do in a measly 4 seconds (shown in the screenshot below)

I give this function 9.8/10

Value for money
At a price of $15 this is definitely worth your money it has tons of great features and has enough Sudokus so that you will never run out. The range of different difficulty levels will make you want to come back for more and extras like the stop clock allow you to trial yourself on time. If you add all that with the fact that it is one of the best Sudoku game and solver currently for the pocket pc you will see that it is worth your money.

I give value for money 9.5/10

Summary
There have been a lot of Sudoku games for the pocket pc recently but Mastersoft has managed to make one of the best if not the best. With its thousands of Sudokus and five difficulty levels you will never run out and will come back to play the game again and again. The game has a lot of nice features like the stop clock and the ability to export your Sudoku directly as a text file. The game has a pleasant feel to it due to the sound and the presentation of the game and it can easily be seen that a lot of work has gone into this game. The only dissapoiting points are that it currently has no vga support and it has no backing track if they add these in later versions of the game it will be one of the greatest puzzle games for the pocket pc.

Pros

  • Has a large amount of Sudokus available so you will never run out
  • Has a very good and fast input method
  • Has a lot of great features like stopclocks and the ability to export your sudoku directly as a text document
  • Has a nice look about it
  • Has a nice opening sound
  • Has a great range of difficulties
  • It can solve a difficult Sodoku in a few seconds
  • Has a lot of different styles to customize the game

Cons

  • Has no backing track as of yet
  • Althought it looks good on a vga screen there is no vga version as of yet

I give the game 9.5/10

The game is available for pocket pc and can be found at this website www.mastersoftmobilesolutions.com for the price of $15

If you would like to comment on my review do it at my forum here http://fishwoodforums.17.freebb.com/