Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Posted by Jordan Rosenwald in "SOFTWARE" @ 09:00 AM
The Pocket PC is one of the best platforms for puzzle-type games. Super Elemental does a superb job of standing out in a crowd with adjustable levels of challenging play, beautiful graphics and excellent sound.
Figure 1: What makes Super Elemental different from the rest?
How to Stand Apart in a Crowd
We all know there are a lot of block dropping, block firing, block switching, jewel tapping type games out there, and well, there should be. I mean, why not? They're quick to fire up, easy to play, and no long plotlines to follow. It's quick, simple fun. So is the genre played out? Apparently not, because here comes Super Elemental, from 4Pockets, a superb and welcome addition to the lineup.
Super Elemental boasts:
- Highly addictive game play
- Bonus levels
- High score table
- High color backdrops
- Great sound effects and music
- Particle Effects
- 3 Difficulty Levels
- Combos with rewarding speech and bonus points
- Clock countdown at end of levels
- Continues on gameplay to save starting at the beginning again
- No cute dragons, fluffy fairies, or cuddly cartoon game characters
Sights and Sounds
Figure 2: The screens are simply beautiful.
I cannot say enough good things about the presentation of the game. The visuals are simply beautiful. The background images are extremely attractive, all the blocks are well rendered, and the boarders and your "shooter" are clean and professional looking in their rendering.
I really enjoy the music that goes with the game. There are several musical tracks that play during gameplay. I haven't bothered to count, but after several hours of gameplay I'm still not bored or even coming close to wanting to mute the sound. If there were any shortcomings to the sound, I'd say that occasionally I've found the more frantic tempo music does not necessarily accompany the more frantic paced level.
Oh, I almost forgot the one really cute part. Combos! That is, clearing blocks which cascade down to clear more blocks, etc. There might not be a cute fluffy dragon in the game, but there's something very cute inside yelling "Combo! MegaCombo! Elemental!" Nice touch.
Figure 3: Pretty rainbows after fast and furious bonus levels.
Levels, Levels, Levels
I said earlier I love these types of games. What I did not say is that I'm particularly great at them. How do I rank in the grand scheme? No idea. But I will tell you that after just a couple tries I did get up to about level 10. The levels kept going, the difficulty, for the most part kept climbing, and I chewed through my continues. I'll get to the continues in a second.
A really nice choice the developers have made was that I found once the levels started to get harder, every other level was just a tiny, tiny bit easier. It felt like take a step forward, take a quarter step back, take a one and a quarter step forward, take a quarter step back. The net effect was that you almost felt like you had a very small reprieve, to catch your breath, on every other level. I really like that. It made the games last and gave me a sense, as I went into the next level, that I had a clearer head to make choices.
Back to the continues... Ok, not much to say here. There are continues! Always the downside to any game that is level-based and doesn't permit saves, is that once you lose you start over. In Super Elemental, at least they give you a few chances to pick up where you left off.
After playing the game for some time, I was hard pressed to come up with any real problems or drawbacks. Just as I was about to resign myself to the thought that there really weren't any, a meeting reminder went off while playing. The game got stuck and a soft rest was the only fix I could find. So the Gotchas boil down to:
- Locked while playing and meeting reminder goes off
- No way to pause the game, check another application (for example your contacts to make a phone call) and come back to the same spot
A demo of Super Elemental can be downloaded from Handango (affiliate link). The registered version costs $14.95.
Super Elemental has been tested on the Audiovox Maestro, Cassiopeia E-200 and E-750, Compaq iPAQ 3800 and 3900 series, and HP Jornada 560 series, but should work on any Pocket PC 2002 devise. It requires 2.5 MB on the device and 3MB to run.
To say this is the perfect game implies that its better than others of its type. More accurately, however, I can say there is nothing that this game lacks. I do look forward to the minor improvements to fix the few "Gotchas." However, this game is likely to become a permanent install on my iPAQ, as it is the best of its type that I've found.