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SPB PPC GamePack

In my position here at MHW occasionally I write something which ignites a firestorm of controversy. Comically I am often unaware that I have struck a nerve until my mail box starts to overflow. The recent Dell Axim X5 review was just such an occasion. In my Axim review I included a few throwaway paragraphs on my thoughts about the Pocket PC Software market. The essence of this commentary was that there is a lack of reasonably priced commercial grade software, particularly entertainment software available for the Pocket PC platform.

Of the myriad of feedback I received on this subject, more actually than the X5 review itself, one in particular from Jason Dunn of SPB stood out. Jason felt that Spb was making the kind of software that I was complaining was in short supply. After looking over the Pocket PC titles on SPB's website. Several titles caught my eye and I selected two programs, one was a free benchmarking utility and the other, that we will be discussing today is SPB GamePack Jason provided me with a complimentary license for.

SPB GamePack is a collection of five popular games. The GamePack is available in a 15-day free trial download. That harkens back to the early days of shareware game titles. If you like the games you then have the option to purchase individual games for 4.95 each or the entire GamePack for 14.95.

I am not going to go into great detail on each game as with five titles that would make this review overly long. At this point my only beef is with the absence of in game instructions which would be useful if for some reason you were unfamiliar with the original. With that bit of criticism it's on to the games themselves.

Freecell - One of the more popular solitaire variants that starts with all the cards face up. If played correctly, every hand is supposed to be winnable. If you get stuck [and you will] you can play a new game or restart the current one. Graphics are remarkably sharp and detailed. An undo button to take back your current move would have been a nice addition here. Game controls are handled with the stylus.

SPB Freecell

Lines - Similar in nature to the popular "Connect Four" party game. The object here is to arrange five balls of the same color in a row, complicating matters though is that after each player move the computer adds three additional balls to the field. This particular game is IMO too difficult and should have more user selectable options such as the ability to chose how many balls in a row makes a line. Control for this title is aptly handled by the stylus.

SPB Lines

Minesweeper - Another well known title here, seemingly based on the bundled Windows version, the object of this strategy game is to mark all the mines on the grid without uncovering any of them. Score is kept by a timer, the faster your time the higher you score. Lacking a mouse for control the SPB Pocket PC version has a slightly different Stylus based user interface, minor control issues aside the game itself is still a lot of fun.

SPB Minesweeper

Pong - A faithful reproduction of the table top tennis console classic, sporting landscape rotated graphics the look of this game is right on target. The only thing missing here is the small dead zone at the top of the screen present in the original. If you have played the original you will likely miss this feature as it was the easiest way to consistently score against the computer. This title also features a pause control. Control is handled by the D-Pad.

SPB Pong

Xonix - This title seems to be a quite similar to the Microsoft title Jezzball. The object of this game is to nibble away at a colored box while at the same time avoiding other balls inside and outside the box. This is actually more fun that it sounds. The high score feature, which works fine in the other four games, for some reason wouldn't save your scores in this one. I assume this is some sort of bug. The control function is well handled in this game by the D-Pad, giving it something of a console joystick feel.

SPB Xonix

Conclusion:

As mentioned, a few minor issues were noted above, but at less than three dollars a game as a group, or less than five dollars individually there is plenty of fun and lots of value here. While I still feel software for the Pocket PC platform is largely a hit or miss, this title definitely scores a major hit.

Added: August 18th 2003
Reviewer: JimAdkins
Score: 9  
Related Link: SPB
Hits: 4142
Language: english

  

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