(This article first published on AllAboutSymbian.com)
When you think of gaming, you certainly don't think of
the Communicator (even if you're thinking of the smaller 9300 model).
After all, the Communicator is supposed to be the Enterprise machine,
designed for email, spreadsheets, Web and so on. But why shouldn't
professionals have fun, too? It's true that the screen is a wierd
aspect ratio and that you really have to either hold the device in two
hands or plonk it down on a table, but it's a powerful Symbian OS
handheld, and in any case the older Psion palmtop had hundreds of
dedicated games, so why not?
Why not, indeed. Well, the main reason is that game
developers haven't so far targetted the 9500, even to the same extent
as for its less powerful predecessor, the 9210. Even so, if you know
where to look, there are still some interesting games to be played,
which is why I present a brief gallery of the top 10 games for the
Nokia Communicator. Download and enjoy.
In reverse order...
OK, this is one of my own shareware games, so I thought
I'd better err on the side of modesty and put it at the bottom of the
list. It's a fairly simple, but hopefully addictive, golf game, with
fairly realistic physics and accurate modelling of wind and green
'break'. Add in a power bar that moves rather quickly and you get
something that's very hard to master, just like the real thing. Maybe I
made it too difficult? Your call.
The classic EPOC/Symbian patience was 'HomeRun',
otherwise known as 'Golf' solitaire. And there have been quite a few
versions of this over the years, but RMRGolf is polished and easy to
play. You pick off cards that are one higher or one lower than the one
currently on the discard pile, until that pile is gone. The aim is to
get rid of all your cards before this happens. Everybody's favourite
8: ProTour Golf
Presumably developed by a third party and then bought up
by Nokia, this is golf (the ball game, not the card one!) again, but
with a very different flavour to my Fairway. The graphics are mouth
watering, the sound effects good and the 3D glitches thankfully few and
far between. But it's ultimately way too easy, with little account of
wind and none at all of any kind of gradient on the green. 10/10 for
atmosphere but only 7/10 for gameplay.
7: Mines 9200
Another arrows-key only game designed for the 9210, this
works pretty well on the 9500 and is easily customised to provide just
the right degree of mental stimulation. You know the game, work out
where the mines are using logic and guesswork and flag them, trying not
to get it wrong and blow yourself up.
Mines9200 (and Spheres).
6: Bowling 2002
I know, another old game, but this one's surprisingly
fun. The physics of ten pin bowling aren't terribly accurate, being
rather exagerated, but I like it nonetheless. I especially like the
clattering sound effects. Strike!
It's free with every device (if not in the box, then on
the support page on nokia.com), it's more or less the definitive
platform puzzler and it's a lot of fun if you like this sort of thing.
Collect the jewels, avoid spikes and other nasties, look out for doors,
and so on. You know the drill.
How could I leave out Ewan's epic port of the infamous
puzzle game? With hundreds of levels and mind-boggling action, this
will keep you busy/amused/frustrated (delete as applicable) for the
best part of a month. The only trouble is that his block selection
system (edge of frame markers) takes a lot of getting used to, I really
wish he'd used a standard moveable highlight instead.
3: One for All Solitaires
For once, the name's not misleading. There are hundreds
of card patience games here (including variations), all in the one
download. If you're a solitaire fan, this one game will keep you happy
for days. And because it's a card game, every new game is different to
the last one. Epocware have done a good job, it's slickly programmed
throughout and the controls are obvious. Highly recommended.
One For All Solitaires.
When Tetris is done right, it's really, really
addictive. And doing it right means not having to sit there for ages
while the blocks start falling fast enough to form a decent challenge.
Which is where I come in (ahem, OK, so I'm allowing myself two entries
in the list!). Fed up with over-slow Tetris implementations, I decided
to write my own and make it blisteringly fast. Never mind fancy
patterned blocks, I wanted sheer gameplay, white-knuckle tensions and
drama. The result is Atomic, with sirens echoing in your ears and with
blocks starting fast and getting faster. After five minutes, you
physically won't be able to hit the keys fast enough and your overall
score will depend on how good you've been at eliminating multiple rows
along the way...
1: Chess Professional
This was one of the very first games for the original
Psion Series 3, back in 1991. In fact, before that it was available as
a PC game, running under DOS. The programmer hasn't changed in the
intervening 15 years, and the game engine itself has been improved and
tweaked along the way, with graphics now in glorious colour. Chess is
super-slick, with multiple skill levels, multiple views (as shown
here), a handy Hint system and (now) the ability to play games remotely
with other users (via Bluetooth or SMS). Like all computer chess
systems, the computer opponents show no imagination whatsoever, but the
gameplay is very strong in terms of analysing complex positions, you'll
find it hard to beat.
So there you have it. Next time someone says 'Ah, but
you can't really play games on your Communicator', you can reply 'Well,
that's not strictly true...'