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JadeDragon's reviews and playing tips: Sharp Zaurus Linux games

Tower Toppler by Interzon, Free
Reviewed October 2003 by Martin Szarski

In Tower Toppler, the player has to help a little green animal get to the top of a rotating tower. This style of gameplay is a twist on the usual side-scroller jump and run game because as you walk around the spiral stairs around the tower, you only see a portion of the tower at one time. The gameplay will be familiar to most people who have had either an Atari or a DOS based computer since Tower Toppler is a port of the Atari game “NEBULUS”, which has been re-implemented a number of times on numerous platforms.

The familiar gameplay doesn’t necessarily mean easy to master. Only seeing one section of the tower at a time adds challenges to the relatively mundane jump 'n' run genre. The main gameplay element of Tower Toppler is the strategy and planning in the path taken. It is not like most platform games, as fast hands wont help you here. It is all about planning and timing. You have little chance of outrunning a ball, however using tactics you could cause the ball to fall off the tower all together, or just not be there when you need to enter that particular door. This is what makes the game fun: The anticipation of what might be around the corner, and the strategy in avoiding it, and the suspense of entering a door not knowing what is on the other side. These simple gameplay elements combine to form a fun game that will keep you coming back just to try and get to that next door. Although the game doesn't actively try to stop you getting to the top of the tower in its placement of bouncing balls and enemies, one event that was definitely triggered by the player was the release of lethal flying objects at certain heights. Either outrunning or outplaying these things adds another thing to think about.

The game uses the Zaurus D-Pad for its controls, and this works well providing easy access to all the game's functions. The player can move left, right, up, and down using the direction buttons on the D-Pad, and can fire using the Action button in the middle.

The graphics impressed me with their clarity, but mostly with the frame rate. In the past I have been under whelmed by the speed at which some Zaurus games run, but this game while having simple graphics runs at full speed and even has a nice water ripple effect at the bottom of the screen. With 3d rendered objects, the graphics are of a high quality, but personally I don't really like the look of the green monster. That's just me though, and the graphics are of an overall high quality.

While reviewing the game, I wasn't sure if the game was supposed to have sound at all. The desktop version has it I believe, but the Zaurus port page is pretty light on information. I used 2 different versions of libSDL-mixer and still couldn't coax any sound out of the Zaurus. The game would definitely benefit from some sound. Even just a colorful MIDI playing in the background would add to the experience a lot. The game ran fine on my Zaurus SL-5500. I know that libSDL runs fine on the SL-C7XX series so I'm sure this game would work on those devices as well.

This game mixes simple gameplay elements to create an overall challenging but fun game. The game is easy to pickup but is challenging and will stay on my Z indefinitely. Tower Toppler is a fun game to play when you have a spare 5 or 10 minutes and if you like simple but challenging games, this is one to try. Especially with it being free, there is no excuse not to have this little on your Z.

 

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Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics Well rendered, nice graphics and a great frame rate.
Sound N/A No sound.
Fun Meter A very fun game that is simple but effective.
Addictivity A game that will keep you playing for a long while, but it has the potential to get tedious or frustrating at certain times.


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