Pocket Express Entertainment Pack Plus Review

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Pocket Express Entertainment Pack Plus Publisher: Pocket Express
Developer: Pocket Express

Platform: Palm OS
Reviewed on Palm OS

The Pocket Express Entertainment Pack Plus offers a selection of basic games that transform a Palm OS PDA from an organizer into a gaming platform. This package includes the original six games from the Pocket Express Entertainment Pack, and adds three new games and some enhancements to the originals. In total, the games offered are Tetris Classic, Lode Runner: The Legend Returns, PocketChess, Checkers, BlackJack, PokerDice, Backgammon, Checkers, Colors, and Solitaire Free. The entire package is available as an electronic download, CD-ROM, Handspring Springboard Module, or Palm m500 series MultiMedia Card. All of the games run on the Palm OS, and most of the games support color displays.

Kyle Ackerman

I'm excited to see the Palm OS adopted as a gaming platform. While most people think of a Palm or a Handspring as an address book or calendar, it is a sophisticated piece of hardware that is superior in memory and processing power to the computers most of us were using a decade ago. As such, the Palm is the perfect venue for developing games that focus on gameplay over graphics, and for reproducing classic games of the 1980s.

Overall, the Pocket Express Entertainment Pack Plus is a worthy foray into Palm OS Gaming. The grab-bag of games are discussed in more detail below, and are of varying quality, but the total package can provide entertainment for a few seconds or many hours. Similar versions of many of the individual software title can be found elsewhere, but the Pocket Express Entertainment Pack Plus conveniently consolidates these games into a single download. If at least two games found below sound appealing, the package is an economical choice, and the average gamer may be pleasantly surprised at the addictive nature of the simpler games in this package. The games were all stable, and simple to install using the HotSync Manager.

Pocket Express Tetris ClassicTetris Classic (color) v1.1: Tetris Classic is an excellent adaptation of the simple and engaging game of Tetris that Alexsey Pajitnov devised in 1985. For those who haven't played it, Tetris involves dropping tetraminos (shapes comprised of four blocks stuck together) into a space ten blocks wide and twenty blocks high. Full rows are eliminated, rewarding the player with points. It's an incredibly simple concept, but as a generation of computer users can attest, it is startlingly addictive. This version is faithful to the original, clear in execution, and the interface works quite nicely for the palm device. This game is a joy to play, and nothing is lost when playing on the tiny screen.

Lode Runner: The Legend ReturnsLode Runner: The Legend Returns (color) v1.0.3: This game should be the crowning glory of the Pocket Express Entertainment Pack Plus, but it fails to be engaging. The original Lode Runner occupied countless hours of time for Apple II series gamers in the 1980s with its simple joys. Jake was a miner, collecting gold and fleeing from vicious monks, armed only with a shovel to protect himself. By jumping off ledges, climbing ladders and digging pits, Jake could thwart the monks, clear out the gold and move to the next level. The joy of Lode Runner was the simple gameplay and the progressively more complicated levels that eased you into complex puzzles.

This version of Lode Runner: The Legend Returns features Jake, armed with a laser blaster (that works just like the old shovel), but with additional features. Levels include teleporters, bombs that destroy large areas, and doors that require keys. The game looks fine in grayscale on the Palm screen, and Jake can be easily operated using the buttons on the Palm. At first it is easy to press the buttons more often than intended, forcing Jake off a cliff or into a pit, but the controls can be quickly learned. The main criticism of this game is the difficulty of the levels. Unlike the original Lode Runner, with comparatively few tools and very simple early levels, Lode Runner: The Legend Returns is quite complex very early on. The addition of keys and bombs also exponentially increases the possible approaches to completing a level. While experienced gamers might enjoy this game, many Palm OS gamers will find it frustrating.

Pocket ChessPocket Chess (color) v 1.5: Simply put, this is a chess game. A perfectly good chess game that dutifully plays chess at eight different skill levels. The game is good enough to beat the casual chess player, and the game can be set to play itself, turning the program into a spectator sport.



Pocket Express BlackjackPocket Express Blackjack v 1.1: This game is the most primitive of the games on the Pocket Express Entertainment Pack Plus, but it remains a viable Blackjack game. Blackjack is not a game given to frills, and this version has none. Some basic rules can be changed in the game's preferences, but this version does not include any of the features found in other Blackjack games, such as advice or tutorials on card counting.


Pocket Express PokerDicePocket Express PokerDice (color) v 1.1: Pokerdice is a Palm OS version of the classic dice game, in which players try to roll combinations of high-scoring poker hands using dice marked nine through ace in all four suits. This game is quite addictive for a few hours, but loses replay value once all of your high scores are greater than four hundred. Consider this game to be a worthy bonus when combined with other games in the package, and one of the factors that makes the Pocket Express Entertainment Pack a good value.

Pocket Express BackgammonPocket Express Backgammon (color) v 4.1: This game is a Palm OS version of the ancient board game, and is tremendously entertaining. While this reviewer is forced to confess a secret love of backgammon, this is the finest backgammon game so far released for the Palm OS, and has provided endless hours of entertainment at three levels of difficulty. The only minor bug that surfaced was that on the expert setting, the Palm always accepts a "double." Only backgammon enthusiasts will care about this issue or even recognize the significance thereof, and they should be able to find it in their hearts to forgive something so minor.

Pocket Express CheckersPocket Express Checkers (color) v 2.0: Nearly everyone has played checkers at some point in their life, and the Palm OS is no exception. With four levels of difficulty and three levels of aggression, this version of checkers is flexible enough to challenge players of every skill level.




Pocket Express ColorsPocket Express Colors (color) v 2.0: Colors presents a field of eight by eight balls of varying colors, and the object is to clear matching sets of balls. By swapping a single ball with its vertical or horizontal neighbor, rows of three or more balls of a set can be eliminated, scoring points for the player. The game can be played at three difficulty levels and in three modes. Colors is startlingly simple, but nearly as addictive as Tetris. In spite of the name, Colors is very playable on a monochrome screen. Instead of balls with different colors, the different balls have distinctive patterns.

SmallWare's Solitaire Free is a good set of solitaire games, but is available free from SmallWare's website. This is a welcome addition to the Pocket Express Entertainment Pack Plus, but is a free add-on, not a reason to purchase the package.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on September 8, 2001 10:25 AM.

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