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JadeDragon's reviews and playing tips: Palm OS games

Sega Action Games by Sega for Palm brand OS 5 PDAs, $19.95 (for each of these three games)
Reviewed April 2003

Originally released for the Sega Genesis, Shining Force II, Sonic The Hedgehog and Shinobi were among the biggest titles for this game console. It only makes sense for Sega to cash in on the fast growing PDA/mobile gaming market, and bring back these great games to live once more. The catch is the port of these Sega classics is only for the Palm brand Tungsten T, Tungsten C and Zire 71 running OS 5. While the games might look choppy sometimes on the Tungsten T, the graphics look noticeably better and plays much smoothly on the Tungsten C thanks to its kick-ass 400MHz processor speed!

Shining Force II

Long before Golden Sun, there was Shining Force and Shining Force II. As one of the most popular RPG games for Sega Genesis system, Shining Force II will call to the die-hard faithful like a foghorn. The Palm port is virtually unchanged from the original game. Fans will welcome back 18 of their favorite Shining Force members such as JAHA, SLADE, ERIC, LUKE and more; some of them are specializing in fighting, some healing, and others magic. Just as in the original game, your characters can be promoted to higher levels as they gain experience points in practicing their own special art and skills in fighting. For those who are unfamiliar with this game, fighting is the core of the game play even though you travel through a vast landscape. The game is entirely controlled by hardware buttons.

The unforgettable character animation and color landscape fares well on Palm devices. The graphics look sharp though you might experience choppy animation on the Tungsten T once in a while. The battle sequences however are very smooth and fighting animations are still fun and adorable. The almost corny dialogs are the signature of the game. You will learn the story as well as know each character through these dialogs.

If the graphics and game play haven’t brought back memories, the background tracks and signature sound FX will for sure achieve the goal. For now, the game only runs on Palm branded OS 5 devices, which include Tungsten T and newly release Tungsten C and Zire 71.

Sonic The Hedgehog

Sonic The Hedgehog has made his run on virtually every gaming platform and is considered by some as Sega’s Mascot. The Palm port looks decent and plays quite smoothly. In a 2D side-scrolling environment, your blue hero Sonic will race through the six memorable zones with his signature rolling and jumping skills. With many power-ups and enemies littered throughout these levels, you can either run through the level as fast as you can or take your time and make sure you pick up every ring and all power-up items. When rolling through a level at very high speed, the Tungsten C did a much better job of translating the speed than did the Tungsten T. Like in Mario games and the Rayman series, you will encounter many hidden danger and deadly traps that you won’t see until it’s too late. While it’s almost impossible to avoid hitting these dangerous spots, you can however save yourself from dying by always keeping at least one ring. The game is controlled entirely by the hardware buttons.

While Shining Force II didn’t loose its shining graphics, Sonic looks a bit pixilated on the Tungsten T and slightly better on the Tungsten C. The vibrant background colors and the moving objects and characters do come through nicely however. The music tracks are ported straight from the original game and they sound great on the Tungstens and Zire 71.

Even though Sonic The Hedgehog was a big hit for Sega when it was first released, the sequels often offered more bells and whistles to somehow make the game look better and more fun to play. For those of us who are spoiled with the latest Super Sonic titles, this first Sonic game seems a little short and bit too easy. But for those of you who’ve just joined us on this Sonic journey, let us wish you bon voyage and watch out for those spikes, Mate!

Shinobi

If your first Shinobi game was the 3D PS2 version, then you should know that Shinobi’s dashing red scarf came from this Shinobi sword master game for Sega GameGear. Though in this early Shinobi game, the scarf was a Ninja’s fashion rather than a deadly weapon. Shinobi for the Palm inherits the 2D side scrolling game play and color-coded Ninjas along with their unique weapons and skills. Although the graphics look dated, the locations where the Ninjas must fight still cast magic over gamers who crave challenge. Challenging Ninja fights are the heart of the game. You will need to fight enemies with guns and bombs on moving cars, jumping from log to log across rapids, beat impossible bosses, all the while keeping your cool and your mask intact. The game isn’t very long, but given the challenges you face, you will replay the levels and you will need to come up with different strategy when facing different enemies. There are a good number of life cubes and power-ups throughout each level. The game is controlled by the hardware buttons on the Palm.

The graphics are simple and has comic book like characters with rather smooth action and movement on all supported devices. While it’s hard to see anyone’s face in this game, each character’s style does come through in their movements and their way of fighting. The locations with lighter colors are much easier to see than the darker ones. I had no trouble or any slow downs in controlling my Ninja and fighting actions. The music tracks are catchy and sound FX is good enough to make fighting more interesting.

While the later Shinobi games have better graphics, the various fighting strategies and precise movements of the Ninjas in this game is still one of the best and most additive game-plays in the entire Shinobi franchise. If you’ve never experienced Ninja Magic before, this is your chance to see it in action!

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Shining Force II

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Shinobi

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Sonic The Hedgehog

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Shining Force II
Shinobi
Sonic

 

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics Even though these games are over 20 years old, the graphics still look pretty good.
Sound The music tracks and sounds might not be state of the art, but they will bring back some fond memories for gamers whose childhoods included these games.
Fun Meter By today’s standards, the game play might not be as flashy as Golden Sun or Crash Bandicoot. But the fun game play that made these games classic titles still has its momements.
Addictivity For faithful fans of these classic titles, having the games on a more portable gaming platform is a great reason to get hooked on them again. All three games presenting three different types of games will give you long gaming hours and good replay value.


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