There’s nothing quite like a quiet
evening with the old ball and chain… Of course, I’m
referring to the magic G-Pod and the link cord that attaches
it to your ship. G-Pod, published by AIM Productions, is
a game of skill and action that hooked me to my Pocket PC
for hours, more than once until the battery was drained.
G-Pod is all about the skill of the pilot.
Gravity is constantly working against you, and you’ve
only got a limited amount of fuel. As if that wasn’t
enough, you must also navigate through long tunnels, fight
off turrets and other traps; deal with artificial gravity
devices and magnets. And don’t think you get a map
or compass to help you either, this game relies on good old
fashion exploration. The only aid you’ll get in your
quest is limited use fuel pods, which when linked with, will
restore your combination fuel/life gauge. Thankfully the
game also features plenty of checkpoints to resume from after
death. Best of all is the level selection feature, which
will let you play any level you’ve been to, resume
your game, and also acts as an unlimited continue.
The small details in the game really impress
me. The way the gravity seems so realistic: the G-Pod works
both with and against you, and especially the feel of the
physics when you have multiple gravity forces pulling against
you at once. I’m also impressed with how well they’ve
implemented the firing system. The bullets aren’t simply
static pixels, but are in fact treated as actual objects
and tracked extremely well. For example, two bullets colliding
into each other will cancel each other out. The enemy turrets
move in a rather precise pattern, and will destroy your precious
fuel as soon as you get within sight.
The controls make for poetry in motion.
Pressing up on the hardware d-pad fires a forward and reverse
dual shot, left and right rotates your ship, and backwards
activates both a brief shield and a downward beam. Thrust
is controlled not by a hardware button, but by pushing or
tapping on the screen itself. Since the game is played in
landscape (left or right handed), this control set up makes
a lot of sense. There’s nothing quite like nose diving
straight at the ground through a set of traps, only to cut
the thrust, spin 180, and regain control just pixels from
the ground below. Or picture flying up a narrow tunnel, not
much wider than the ship. You run into two turrets, one on
the left and one on the right at equal height. You fly up
between them, cut the thrust, rotate horizontally and as
you start to fall back down between them you take them both
out with a single shot. The controls are straight to the
point and do nothing to get in the way. I honestly feel they
couldn’t be set up any better than they are now.
The graphics in G-Pod are incredible. The
terrains are all extremely detailed, and the sprites look
lovingly handcrafted. Each level feels huge with long and
winding tunnels and quite often multiple paths. You really
have a good sense of scale throughout, and the collision
detection seems spot on. Not once have I ever said to myself “No
way! I was at least 5 pixels from that wall!” while
The sound is every bit as solid as the
graphics, and does much to enhance the experience. While
the opening menu contains a great music track, strangely
enough there seems to be no in-game music at all. This is
probably for the best, as it lets you concentrate on flying
and keep an ear open for the turret shots and other traps.
The sound effects are very clear and quite pleasant, ranging
from very subtle thrust, to suitably audible gunfire. Everything
sounds exactly as it should in a sci-fi action arcade game.
So long as you can conquer the controls,
G-Pod will provide more fun and excitement than you can shake
a stylus at. With 50+ levels, stage selection, and even a
scoring system and high score list there’ll be plenty
to do for a long time to come. For fans of games like Rocket
Elite and other gravity based flying and action games,
I really can’t think of a better game to recommend.
To fight screen smudges from your thumb,
always carry a micro-fiber cleaning cloth with you. They’re
small; extremely lightweight, and you can pick one up for a few
dollars at any electronics store. They won’t damage your
LCD screen. Either wipe the screen clean after usage, or simply
wrap your thumb in the cloth.
That said, I find it’s quite easy to control
the thrust using the stylus. Simply hold the Pocket PC upright using
your pinky finger, and hold it in place by pressing it against your
ring finger. Then, using your index and thumb, hold the stylus somewhat
like a pencil against the screen and use your thumb to apply pressure.
Using this method will let you see a little more of the screen as
well, without your thumb blocking out a corner.
You’re not carrying around that magic wrecking
ball for nothing. It’s survived just fine all this time without
you, and it’ll survive even after you crash and burn. So, show
the environment just how strong that “magic” G-Pod is.
You can use it to crush turrets, swing it into movable walls to lower
them, and even use it to block bullets.
If the G-Pod is stuck in a hard to reach spot,
use the beam on it to lift it toward you. If you still can’t
get it, for example if it’s being pulled by a grav unit,
try shooting it to make it bounce and catch it. Remember, when
you crash it falls, rolls, and bounces where you die.
Don’t be afraid to push the shield button
in an emergency. Relying on it will drain your fuel pronto, but
strategic usage may just save your life. If you find yourself being
flung into a wall out of control, hit the shield! It’ll absorb
the impact and give you a moment to recover. Remember to shield
yourself from enemy fire if you can’t dodge in time. Also,
you can use the shield to lower the movable walls by bumping into
them. This take a bit of fuel, but it’s better than crashing.
The vent systems that blow your ship around are
a bit tricky. Sometimes you’ll find it’s best to go
with the flow. Other times a slight angle and thrust in the opposite
direction will get you through. There are times though when the
best course of action may well be a nosedive or a suicide path
toward the vent itself. Just be sure to correct your flight path
quickly when you’re through.
If you consider yourself a sharp shooter, you
can stop turret bullets by shooting them. If you’re under
the pull of an artificial gravity unit, don’t be afraid to
nosedive toward the ground. Remember, in this case up is down.
Sometimes you’ll find good amounts of fuel hidden, and your
beam will still grab it properly, even though you’re facing
the wrong way.
Use the checkpoints often. You must hit
them with your beam to activate them, and you can activate them
in any order.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Highly detailed textures and sprites with
three distinct worlds means plenty of eye candy start to finish.
Subtle yet clear, the sound is everything
it should be and more. While headphones aren’t necessary,
you’ll want to wear them if you have a set handy just
to fully enjoy the detailed sounds.
Action packed and skill based, nothing
beats fighting your way through tight tunnels filled with traps
Showing off insane flight maneuvers makes
the game unique and fun every time. The level selection menu
will let you replay your favorites, or see how far you can
survive and the high score system provides yet another goodie
in the bag. Too bad there’s no support for custom levels,
but with 53 action-packed and challenging levels there’s
very little to complain about.