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Mobile fun and games 

Once upon a time, waiting for a delayed plane, or filling the time on that long train journey could be a seriously boring experience. Once you've read every page in the paper, including the adverts what would you do?
Glu Games for mobiles

Luckily those days have long gone with the advent of mobile entertainment revolution, with of course the phone at its heart. 'phone' of course no longer being an adequate description for something with more processing power than you had on your desk only a few years ago!

With just your phone you have an almost limitless set of options, including of course playing a few games. Glu have released three new games to their range :

I also took a look at an old favourite from my youth : Asteroids, to see how well it's aged.

All of the games are written in Java, which means they'll work on a wide range of 'phones. All can be downloaded from the Glu web-site at http://www.glu.com.

I'm told all the games are priced at around £5 to download to your phone, however I found it very frustrating that no-where on the Glu web-site could I find the price of any of the games without clicking on the 'buy it' button. Even then you have to create an account to proceed and even when I got to the screen where I had to enter my mobile phone number I still had not been told how much I was to be charged. For me that would be enough to stop me proceeding, so I wonder how many potential customers Glu are loosing?

A plus point of the site however is that you can try out many (all?) of the games from your PC before parting with any cash at all.

Transformers

Transformers

Based loosely on the film, and of course before that the toys, this game is very much in the traditional Mario brothers mould where your character navigates a 2 dimensional world of girders shooting at the badies. The extra twist is that you can transform between humanoid and truck. You have to make this transformation in order to get underneath some of the passageways.

A pretty simple shoot-em up, but actually very effective and dare I say addictive game!

Scoring this on entertainment value (as in will it relieve boredom on a long journey) then I'd score Transformers 6/10. You might rate it higher if you prefer shoot 'em' ups.

http://www.glu.com/emea/pages/product.aspx?pr=Transformers

Hangman

My Hangman

Very similar to the childhood game many of us used to play with paper and pencil in the back of the car on a hot summers day. As with that game the challenge is to work-out the hidden word by guessing letter. Each wrong letter looses you a life. Work it out before you loose all lives!

The game has an extra general knowledge twist. Each word chosen is 'themed' and you have a clue. Some of the examples I had were 'a sportsman', 'athletics event', 'Capital city'.

There are two modes available - quick game, in which you play individual rounds and the software chooses subjects for words at random and gives you a rating at the end if you get the right answer. This is a great way to practice before moving onto the full game.

The main game is played in a set of rounds where you get to choose the subject from a selection for each round. You are scored based on the number of lives you loose along with other criteria. Between rounds you may be offered a 'bonus' game - which is letter based but not hangman. Some of those were pretty tricky and do get your mind working!

The main game can be played as a 'challenge', a 'timed challenge' or in multi-player mode.

Again this is an entertaining game and I had to force myself to put it down to get back to this review! I don't know how extensive the word list is although having played a good few rounds the same word never cam up twice.

This one I'd personally rate 7/10.

http://www.glu.com/emea/pages/product.aspx?pr=My+Hangman Kasparov Chess

Kasparov chess

I've not played chess properly for many a long year, so this was a bit of fun. Despite having the cram the 8x8 chess board onto a small screen, the pieces were very legible. I liked the way economy of moving pieces. Having select the piece you want to move you effectively select from the legal destinations.

You have two modes - the first traditional 'computer' chess model where it's you against the machine. The other in some ways is more interesting - a two player game.

Firstly I have to admit that playing in beginner mode the software was making mincemeat of my attempts - although I wouldn't like to say this means it's particularly strong at chess, more that I'm obviously now pretty hopeless.

The two player mode was great. My two daughters used it for a good hour, passing the phone back and forth to take there moves. Why not simply use a chess board I hear you say! Well - actually the software only allows them to make legal moves. This avoids all the argument about whether that pawn can move one square or two, which is usually only resolved by finding Dad - or of course by becoming a full blown row with one of them invariably refusing to play any longer!

Although not a great fan of computer chess, this is a great time passer and I'd give it a good 7/10.

http://www.glu.com/emea/pages/product.aspx?pr=Kasparov+Chess

Asteroids

Asteroids - traditional
Traditional view
Asteroids - modern

I had to include this little game in the review!

Based on the 70s Atari 'Asteroids' game (come on - you do remember it don't you - the original was the first vector screen I'd ever seen, as opposed to a traditional TV set 'raster' display). It was a great hit then and still has fans today.

Obviously your 'phone doesn't have a raster screen, and the screen it does has is probably a little small (I'm using a rather nice Nokia N76 at the moment that has a bigger than average display). Despite that the game is a good clone. For those that really don't remember Asteroids - you are the pilot of a little ship lost in the middle of an asteroid storm. They are coming at you from all angles. All you have to defend yourself is a canon to break the big rocks into harmless dust. If you get really stuck you can 'jump' out of harms way - but that can just make matters worse.

To start with you only have one asteroid - get past that and you have two - then three. You get the idea?

Unlike the original, you have a number of 'skins' to use choose from. You can have a simulated wire-frame model just like the original, in which your ship is a triangle (my favourite) or a more graphical modern version. Your choice.

This game is the simplest out of those reviewed here - but just for pure nostalgia has to get a 9 out of 10 Smile

http://www.glu.com/emea/pages/product.aspx?pr=Asteroids

Conclusion

These games are great for passing the time, and at £5 will provide hours of entertainment.

One annoyance that I found common to all the games was down to the phones keys. Not being intended as a games machines, phones have lots of buttons that do things and I found it was very easy to press the exit key while frantically hunting for Hyper-space. I guess actually this was really a problem with the action games more than chess and hangman, but even in those I hit the wrong button.

And once again - I'm really disappointed that Glu are not clearly showing the prices of their games on their site. Given a lot of the potential customers will be children and young people £5 can still be a lot of money to accidently spend!

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