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Gaming on the Nokia 9500
(Nokia 9300/9500/Series 80 games)

(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...

10: Fairway

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.


9: RMRGolf

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 patience.

Download RMRGolf.

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.

Download 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!

Download Bowling 2002.

5: Bounce

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.

Download From Nokia.

4: Vexed

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.

Download Vexed.

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.

Download One For All Solitaires.

2: Atomic.

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...

Download Atomic

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.

Download Chess Professional

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...'

Steve Litchfield
June 2005